Tuesday, December 19, 2006

'Have you had sex with our pastors?'

Originally uploaded by nojam75.

Originally uploaded by nojam75.

Yesterday, Blogtown PDX posted a hilarious article (NSFW) by Dan Savage about New Life Church, Ted Haggard's former church. New Life Church's "overseers" are basically soliciting information about any other lingering sex and other scandals remaining:

"To assist in both the process of Rev. Haggard's restoration and the protection of the Church itself, the Overseers are open to receiving current information relevant to either Rev. Haggard's recovery process or any concerns about New Life Church staff or its leaders. While they cannot promise confidentiality, the Overseers will handle any such information discretely."*

Apparently the overseers are expecting so many tips that they even set-up a webform to collect all of them.


While I think the "overseers"' efforts are probably sincere, their webform is really awkward. After all, if I had been personally involved in a sex (or other) scandal, I don't think I would fill-out a webform that requires name, address, e-mail, phone, a 500-word limit, and states that information will NOT be handled confidentiality and does NOT promise a reply:

"While the Overseers will review any information submitted, please understand that there are a variety of reasons that you may not receive a response, including the fact that they may already be aware of your concern."*

Who is overseeing the overseers? Would it have it been too difficult to set-up a telephone number or even a person to contact? This certainly confirms my doubts about the ability of megachurches to provide meaningful fellowship and to minister to its members.

UPDATE: I stand corrected. The "overseers" had good reason to expect numerous tips. Over a week ago, a second New Life pastor resigned. According to a press release (PDF) issued last night:

". . . On Friday, December 8, 2006, the Director of New Life Church's 24/7 ministry resigned his position, and the Church accepted his resignation. The 24/7 ministry is a young adult leadership training program. This Director resigned because, in meeting with the Overseers, it became apparent that he had displayed poor judgment in several decisions throughout his tenure. This poor judgment included one instance of consensual sexual contact with another unmarried adult several years ago. . . ."*

While the gender and type of sex is really not relevant, it is interesting that New Life seemed to go out of its way to not refer to whether the consensual sex was same-sex or opposite-sex behavior. However, "unmarried adult" implies that Beard had a heterosexual affair since New Life believes marriage is for heterosexuals only.

BTW, according to Gazette.com, another one of Beard's poor judgments calls at New Life probably occured in 2002:

". . . Beard previously made headlines in 2002, when several law enforcement agencies — including a SWAT team — were put on alert after Beard led a 'training exercise' in the church’s parking lot. . . ."

(* Underlines added to quotes.)

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