Ted Haggard’s Effect on Evangelical Minds

There’s been lots of comments on the hypocrisy of Ted Haggard for his public attitudes towards homosexuality. Amy Sullivan, writing at God’s Politics, is more interested upon the effect of the evangelical community:

The idea of any finger-wagging, “that’s what you get for going on about the ‘radical homosexual agenda'” schadenfreude really holds no interest for me. There are plenty of “hypocrite!” cries going around as it is. But I am fascinated to see how this plays out in the evangelical community. The Mark Foley scandal was one thing–it confirmed fears among many voters that Republicans didn’t share their values; they tolerated homosexual behavior among their colleagues and staff while condemning it in front of their base voters.

This, however, is a scandal involving a shephard of the flock itself. If it turns out there is truth to the allegations, the story will reverberate further and longer than any of the scandals of the 1980s (Swaggart, Bakker, etc.) because it involves not just personal behavior, but an issue that conservative evangelicals have made extremely clear is one of their two top priorities. And I wonder how or if this will affect the condemnation of homosexuality in general within conservative evangelical circles. After all, we know that people’s attitudes change once they learn that someone they know is gay. A lot of evangelicals know (or at least know of) Haggard. If indeed he has been involved with a gay man, that could blow a lot of evangelical minds.

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