It’s probably not surprising if you don’t know who Ted Haggard is. I would bet that most Catholics outside of Colorado don’t. Yet to most Evangelicals, Haggard is a major leader of their movement. He is the senior pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, the center of Evangelicalism in the US, and New Life is his megachurch. He has also been president of the National Association of Evangelicals.
He is a leader of what some call the “Independent Christianity” movement or “Apostolic Christianity,” often defined as “post-denominationalist”. To give you an idea of the size of this movement, according to the World Christianity Encyclopedia, if it were a single denomination, it would be the second-largest Christian group after the Catholic Church. It is also the fastest growing religious body in the world, even faster than Islam. (This data comes from an unpublished article by Sherry Weddell, which I had commissioned for Catholic World Report before I left in May. I hope some Catholic periodical eventually publishes it because it contains a lot of information on Independent Christianity that Catholics need to know.)
All this is intended as a brief introduction in order to show what a bombshell is the news that Haggard has stepped down from his church duties and as president of the NAE amid allegations he frequented a gay prostitute in Denver. According to a statement from the church that is not yet on their web site, “It is important for you to know that he confessed to the overseers that some of the accusations against him are true.” They don’t say which details.
Why should Catholics care? Gay marriage.