Rereading that Sharlet piece

harpersReader TK had a fascinating comment on a previous post about the Haggard coverage:

One statement that he has made, repeatedly, concerned me:

Haggard: "Does a Christian need to ask forgiveness each day? No! A mature Christian should not be sinning on a daily basis, so may not need to ask for forgiveness on a daily basis."

The above quote came from a really interesting 09/12/2005 interview with Ted Haggard on the Issues, Etc. radio program hosted by Pastor Wilken. The interview was later rebroadcast, in two parts (part one and part two), on 9/13/05 with added commentary and listener call-ins.

. . . Now, with the allegations and his admissions of some guilt, I can't help but question his doctrine, his steadfast belief, that true and mature Christians no longer sin. The "best" Christians I know live in daily repentance and full knowledge of their capability to sin.

It will be very sad to follow this story because of the many, many families who've followed him to Colorado Springs. Along with the Wilken interview, I highly recommend a lengthy article, Soldiers of Christ, by Jeff Sharlet of Harper's Magazine from May 2005. In re-reading the article this morning about Haggard and those families who followed him to the "city of faith," I found this passage ironic:

"Pastor Ted soon began upsetting the devil's plans. He staked out gay bars, inviting men to come to his church."

I don't know what this says about me, but when I first heard the Haggard story, my thoughts immediately went to Jeff Sharlet. He runs The Revealer, a site that, like ours, analyzes media coverage of religion.

Jeff has written a few long-form reports on religious issues in his day. One, a detailed and insightful look at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, should, as TK says, be reread in light of this news cycle. He's reposted it with the following introduction:

I'm re-posting my original Harper's piece below not because I think I got the story right -- if Jones' story is true, I missed it by a mile -- but because I hope it'll help the journalists now on the job get the story right by not making the mistake I did. The downfall of Ted Haggard is not just another tale of hypocrisy, it's a parable of the paradoxes at the heart of American fundamentalism. I wrote about the role of sex in Ted's theology, but removed it from the final edit of the story (some of it I refashioned into a short essay on Christian Right's men's sex books for Nerve). I made the mistake of viewing Ted's sex and his religion of free market economics as separate spheres. The truth, I suspect, is that they're intimately bound in a worldview of "order," one to which it turns out even Ted cannot conform.

Perhaps some reporters will be able to get the religious angle to this story.

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