In the run up to the election today, an individual that was not pleased by Pastor Ted Haggard’s political positions publicly detailed some of Haggard’s embarrassing activities. These activities are inconsistent with Haggard’s professed and outspoken beliefs. My exposure to Haggard is limited to an interview by Barbara Walters where he explained an Evangelical view of Heaven. He was the president of the National Association of Evangelicals (no doubt he has a fondness for Mormonism).

I was impressed by his congregation’s response to the affair. As reported by The Times:

After the service, some of the congregation knelt and said a prayer for Mr Haggard, including Patty Erwin, who has been attending the church for 15 years.

“We all love him because he’s a part of our family. You don’t just throw away a sister or a brother,” she said. “Desperately, we love him, and we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t.”

Most of us know someone in the Church that has fallen. Leaders even. Granted, we no longer live in the times of Joseph when he could hardly keep a first presidency together, but we see those we admire and trust betray us. Sometimes they betray us for unbelief and sometimes it is for meth and a male escort.

I think part of the trauma from this is that leaders in the Church are to be counted upon for revelation over their stewardship. We are relying on each other to give our community structure. If the Bishop was cheating, does that mean all the counsel he gave was bogus? The structure shakes. And I think that there are ways to fall that present more of a trial for others…because we are human.

I remember the first time I felt betrayed. Oddly, after praying that God would heal my pain, I found that I had a greater and deeper respect for the person who I thought was perfect but wasn’t.

I truly believe that the vast majority of our leaders are “worthy” to hold their office, i.e., they are worthy to hold a Temple Recommend by any general consensus of what that means. We are blessed to live in a time when we don’t have the challenges of apostasy that our progenitors experienced. It has been 63 years since an apostle was excommunicated. But we have revelations where the Prophet is told that he can be replaced and so the possibility remains.

I don’t know what all the ramifications of the unfaithful steward are. I don’t know that I particularly care. I do know that they are insignificant when placed in the perspective of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The atonement is available for all who turn to Jesus, even the hypocrite.


  1. J,
    You are clearly far more forgiving in this post than you are in real life. I’ll never trust you again.

  2. There is a lot that is unsaid in this post. For example, “I remember the first time I felt betrayed”

    should read,

    “I remember the first time I felt betrayed by STEVE.”

  3. Good post, J. One of the things I like about our Church is that guys serve as bishop maybe 5-7 years and as stake president maybe 9-10 years, which usually isn’t enough time to egregiously aggregate power or exercise unrighteous dominion. Heck, who wants to be in longer than that when there’s no paycheck for it? And even before their calls to serve as judges in Israel, these future bishops and stake presidents have usually been thoroughly vetted for several years in other callings and as temple recommend holders. By contrast, a guy like Haggard can just decide by himself to start a congregation, and if he’s good at it, he can stay in indefinitely and make a whole bunch of money until he messes up, and sometimes, like in Haggard’s case, it’s a BIG mess-up that also causes great damage to his church, the faith of the congregants, and the larger Evangelical cause. We don’t see much of that in the LDS Church, because we don’t pay, we don’t let guys decide for themselves what calling to be in, and we release them before they think they own the calling.

  4. Very true. One of my favorite quotations on the topic, that may well apply to some people from pastor Ted’s flock.

    Do not, brethren, put your trust in man though he be a Bishop, an Apostle or a President; if you do, they will fail you at some time or place; they will do wrong or seem to, and your support be gone; but if we lean on God, He never will fail us. When men and women depend on God alone and trust in Him alone, their faith will not be shaken if the highest in the Church should step aside. … Perhaps it is His own design that faults and weaknesses should appear in high places in order that His Saints may learn to trust in Him and not in any man or woman.

    George Q. Cannon, Millennial Star 53:658-659, 673-675.

  5. 63 years since an apostle ws excommunicated? I thought John W. Taylor and Matthias F. Cowley were the last apostles on the out. Looks like I need to do some homework…

  6. MikeInWeHo says:

    Do you seriously think Haggard had a “fondness for Mormonism” ?? I don’t see any evidence for that, even if he was willing to form political alliances on certain issues. The organization he led is firmly in the Mormonism-is-a-cult camp, as is the church he pastored.

    A case like this leads me right into the sin of schadenfreude (it is a sin, right??). It made me smile to see this lying, hypocritical homophobe brought down from his position of leadership. I feel terrible for his wife and kids though.

    Should anyone care to indulge in a little schadenfreude with me, here’s Jimmy Kimmel’s take on the Haggard situation:

    NOTE: Contains explicit language.

  7. Matt W., in 1943 Richard R. Lyman was excommunicated for “co-habitation.” Basically he had a secret polygamist relationship that was found out about when he was in his 70’s. While John W. Taylor was excommunicated, Cowley was only disfellowshiped.

    Schadenfreude. Yep, I think that is the tendency for any of Haggard’s opponents (including Mormons, the comment in the post was tongue-in-cheek). I am tempted, for sure. But, I think that is not consistent with the Gospel of Jesus…you know – there, but by the grace of God go I.

  8. Mike, I am sure J. was being sarcastic and that what he was really saying was that he was sure that Haggard detests Mormonism.

  9. Mark L. Robinson says:

    I hope I’m not being too cynical or casting stones here, but it smacks just a little of posing for the cameras by some of the congregants to say how much we “love dear old Pastor Ted” and “let’s get together and pray for dear old Pastor Ted”…rubbish. This guy duped his congregation and lied with a straight (pun intended) face to his devoted wife and children and before the living God who will not be mocked! Isn’t anyone outraged? I want them to stand up before the cameras and shout “shame on him for taking our money and our trust.”

  10. Too true, J. All of us are sinners, and there but for the grace of God goes each of us.

  11. MikeInWeHo says:

    I say “there but for the grace of God go I” when I see someone with cancer or who’s been injured in a car accident. I say it when I hear of some poor soul who made a bad decision and reaped a terrible reward. I say it when I see good people in other countries struggle in poverty.

    I don’t say it when a lying, hypocritical homophobe gets caught with a male hooker. I don’t say it when Ken Lay gets busted for bilking thousands of their life savings.

    Mark Robinson is right. There is a time for righteous anger.

  12. Amen, Mike.