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USA: Preacher now

Wed 7 Feb 2007 In: International News

The disgraced evangelical preacher Ted Haggard has emerged from three weeks of intensive counselling convinced he is "completely heterosexual". Mr Haggard, 50, resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals in November and was fired from the church he founded after a male prostitute alleged Mr Haggard paid him for sex during a three-year relationship. Mr Haggard broke a three-month silence at the weekend to email select members of his former church in Colorado Springs, the 14,000-member New Life Church. Ross Parsley, the church's interim senior pastor, forwarded an email message from Mr Haggard to the wider church on Monday. In the message, Mr Haggard revealed that he and his wife, Gayle, intended to leave Colorado and pursue master's degrees in psychology through online courses. He mentioned Missouri and Iowa as possible destinations. Mike Ware, a member of the church oversight board dealing with Mr Haggard's case, said the board had recommended the move out of town and the Haggards had agreed. "It's hard to heal in Colorado Springs right now," Mr Ware said. "It's like an open wound. He needs to get somewhere he can get the wound healed." Another member of the four-man board, Tim Ralph, said that the board had strongly urged Mr Haggard to go into secular work instead of Christian ministry. Mr Haggard admitted to "sexual immorality", and a long battle against feelings contrary to his beliefs, but told the board his sexual contact with men was limited to his accuser, Mike Jones, a former male escort. He also admitted buying methamphetamine but said he never used the drug. Mr Ralph said that three weeks of counselling at an undisclosed Arizona treatment centre helped Mr Haggard immensely and left him sure of one thing. "He is completely heterosexual," Mr Ralph said. "That is something he discovered. It was the acting-out situations where things took place. It wasn't a constant thing." Mr Jones said he revealed his relationship with Mr Haggard after he learned that the man he knew as Art, who paid him for sex on a monthly basis for three years, was a prominent preacher who publicly condemned homosexuality.     Ref: The Denver Post (m)

Credit: News Staff

First published: Wednesday, 7th February 2007 - 12:00pm

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