I'm afraid I've been all deer-in-the-headlights on the ex-Reverend Ted Haggard story. I haven't brought myself to write about it because the facts of Haggard's case were so obviously, jaw-droppingly ridiculous that I felt no commentary was necessary. I've snapped out of it now, thanks to the ex-reverend's announcement yesterday that he's "completely heterosexual" after just three weeks of "restoration." The man just can't stop raising the bar.
To refresh your memory, Ted Haggard was the founder and senior minister of New Life Church, a Colorado Springs mega-church, who was fired in early November in response to allegations that he had a three-year relationship with a male prostitute. Haggard's stumping for an anti-gay marriage initiative on the Colorado ballot was what apparently pushed the prostitute, Mike Jones, over the edge. Jones, being a civic-minded American, contacted the media in the days leading up to the mid-term elections with information about the relationship and Haggard's alleged purchases of methamphetamine.
Bringing Haggard down was no small feat. He was at the apex of the evangelical mountain, serving as president of the National Association of Evangelicals and preaching to a congregation of 14,000. He also was the author of a dozen books on Christian themes and was a leader of President Bush's prayer network. He had a long way to fall.
Haggard recently retreated to Arizona where, under the stern eyes of a group of pastoral "overseers," he sought healing from his wicked ways in an intensive three-week program. Although in his November resignation letter to the congregation he noted that "through the years, I've sought assistance in a variety of ways, with none of them proving to be effective," somehow he's managed this time to fully recover from years of homosexual behavior and desires in only 21 days.
Does this guy have Cliffs Notes or what? Clearly an overachiever, I predict Haggard will easily dominate the sprawling ex-gay ministry industry (see www.exodus.to for a peek at the biz) with the fast-track straightening techniques he's developed. I can see the infomercials now.
The most frightening aspect of yesterday's announcement, however, was the assertion that Haggard would soon take up studies to earn a master's degree in psychology. Anticipating public concern over this new career choice, his overseers were quick to mention that they told him he'll have to stick to secular counseling. My admonishment is more academic in nature: Ted, no more crash courses. In any reputable graduate program, they'll make you read the entire book before you go telling everybody that you know which way is up.
Jennifer Morales is an elected member of the Milwaukee Board of School Directors, the first person of Latino descent to hold that position. She was first elected in 2001 and was unopposed for re-election in 2005. In 2004, she ran for a seat in the Wisconsin state senate, earning 43% of the vote against a 12-year incumbent.
Previously, she served as the editorial assistant at the educational journal Rethinking Schools; as assistant director of two education policy research centers at UW-Milwaukee; and as the development director for 9to5, National Association of Working Women.
She became the first person in her immediate family to graduate from college, earning a B.A. in Modern Languages and Literatures from Beloit College in 1991.
In addition to her work on the school board, she is a freelance editorial consultant and a mother.