Prominent evangelical leader Ted Haggard confessed some of the accusations against him are true.
Dismay and shock roared over evangelical leaders after hearing allegations that Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, had gay relations with a former prostitute. Following immediate denial of the accusations, Haggard told his church staff at New Life that Mike Jones' claims were not all false.
In a memo to staff members of New Life Church, acting senior pastor Ross Parsley wrote, "It is important for you to know that he confessed to the overseers that some of the accusations against him are true," after the board of overseers had met with Haggard.
The evangelical leader admitted he bought drugs (methamphetamine) and received a massage from Jones, but he denied having sex with him, according to recent reports.
Haggard recently resigned as president of the 30-million member NAE and placed himself on administrative leave from New Life.
"He has willingly and humbly submitted to the authority of the board of overseers, and will remain on administrative leave during the course of the investigation," said Parsley, according to Christianity Today.
Parsley had not known precise details and told Colorado Springs television station KKTV, "I just know there has been some admission of indiscretion.
"Not admission to all of the material that has been discussed. But there is an admission of some guilt, and that's what we're working with, with outside overseers who are working with Pastor Ted and his family to investigate what's happened here."
Meanwhile, Jones, 49, failed a polygraph test early Friday morning about the accuracy of his accusations. Jones said Haggard had paid him to have sex nearly every month over three years. A man who called himself Art had contact Jones, who had advertised himself as an escort on the Internet. And later Jones saw the man on television identified as Haggard.
The polygraph test was taken at 5 a.m. this morning and the test administrator, John Kresnik, said Jones' score indicated "deceptions" in his answers. However, Kresnik said he doubted the accuracy of the test he administered because of the recent stress on Jones and his inability to eat or sleep, according to the Denver Post. He suggested a re-test early next week.
Evangelical leaders meanwhile have expressed shock and sadness at the breaking news while extending their prayers to Haggard.
Dr. Charles Nestor, National Clergy Council's Senior Fellow for Public Policy, spoke for the council saying they are "saddened" by Haggard's stepping down.
"Many have already rushed to raise charges of yet another evangelical clergy hypocrisy. Evangelicals teach that homosexual behavior is proscribed in the Bible and is therefore to be viewed as a sin in all cases," he said in a released statement. "Many are raising the charge of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is the playing of a role, i.e., as an actor, without the inward conviction that it represents the truth. Pastor Haggards swift resignations indicate to us that while he failed to live out the truth he taught, he recognizes that his conduct was clearly wrong."
The accusations came as Colorado voters will vote on a same-sex marriage ban in Tuesday's elections. Jones said he went public with his story because Haggard supported the constitutional amendment against gay marriage.
"I had to do the moral thing," he said, according to CNN.
Many are remaining optimistic of Haggard.
"Ted Haggard has denied the allegations made against him. So far, there is only one accuser," said a statement by the Rev. Bob Schenck, president of the National Clergy Council and chairman of the Committee on Church and Society for the Evangelical Church Alliance. "The Bible says no man is to be condemned on the testimony of a single accuser. We must prayerfully wait out the investigative process and continue to judge by the evidence."
"We pray that the charges will totally be dismissed as totally false, said Bill Taylor, the past Executive Director of the World Evangelical Alliance Missions Commission, in an e-mail.
Richard Cizik, vice president for governmental affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals, told CNN that "the accusations do not comport with the person that I know."
If the accusations turn out true, some leaders hope it doesn't paint a different picture of evangelicals.
"Should this accusation prove true, it will only be another in a long history of human failure," said Schenck. "The Bible says if we say we have no sin, we lie and the truth is not in us. Evangelical Christianity does not rest on frail and sinful human beings, but on a just and righteous God in who 'changes not."