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Evangelicals Pray for Haggard Amid Gay Sex Allegations

Evangelicals Pray for Haggard Amid Gay Sex Allegations

Prominent evangelical leaders are praying for Ted Haggard, the recently resigned president of the 30-million-member National Association of Evangelicals, amid allegations that he had paid a male prostitute for sexual favors.

“We are praying for the Haggard family and all those involved in the situation,” said Geoff Tunnicliffe, International Director of the World Evangelical Alliance, who said he was “certainly shocked by the accusations.”

Other evangelical leaders also expressed their prayerful concern for Haggard through strings of email conversations related to the topic.

“We pray that the charges will totally be dismissed as totally false,” wrote Bill Taylor, the past Executive Director of the World Evangelical Alliance Missions Commission.

On Tuesday, a former prostitute, 49-year-old Mike Jones of Denver, went public with accusations that Haggard had paid him to have sex nearly every month over three years. According to the Associated Press, Jones said that he had advertised himself as an escort on the Internet and that a man who called himself Art contacted him. Jones said he later saw the man on television identified as Haggard.

Jones also claimed Haggard snorted methamphetamine before their encounters to heighten his experience.

Haggard, a father of five, immediately denied the accusations, saying he “never had a gay relationship with anybody” and that he is “steady with my wife, faithful to my wife.”

He also released a written statement announcing that he is “voluntarily stepping aside from leadership” of the 14,000 member New Life Church, which he founded, because he could “not continue to minister under the cloud created by the accusations.”

“I hope to be able to discuss this matter in more detail at a later date,” Haggard wrote. He also temporarily resigned from the NAE, where he served as president since 2003.

A four-member panel from the New Life Church is expected to investigate the allegations. The board has the authority to discipline Haggard, including by removing him permanently from his position as Senior Pastor.

"This is really routine when any sort of situation like this arises, so we're prepared," Carolyn Haggard, spokeswoman for New Life Church, told AP. "The church is going to continue to serve and be welcoming to our community. That's a priority."

The allegations come as voters in Colorado prepare for a vote over an amendment banning gay marriage. Jones said his decision to go public is closely tied to this vote.

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