Ted Haggard: The Pagan Perspective

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When (the almost inevitable it seems) sexual/moral scandals fall upon conservative Christian leaders I generally refrain from comment. I don’t have a dog in that hunt. My interests in conservative Christian culture begins and ends (as far as this blog is concerned) with how it affects modern Pagan communities and interests. That said, some modern Pagan commentators and bloggers have stepped forward to give their two cents on the recent fall from grace of evangelical super-star Ted Haggard.

Pagan scholar and Colorado resident Chas Clifton doesn’t see the appeal Haggard had in the first place.

“My dislike for Haggard’s approach is more than theological. Maybe it is at base aesthetic. He does not understand the gods of the city, only the gods of the suburban shopping mall. As I wrote there, ‘Sharlet makes a good case for New Lifers as exurban parasites, taking the services that the city provides but being unwilling to pay for them, either financially or psychically.'”

Meanwhile Pagan columnist M-Taliesin lays out how Haggard had already violated even the most basic of moral codes that many Pagans live by.

“As a Pagan, I believe in ethical values that revolve around the concept “an it harm none, do as you will.” So I really don’t care if somebody wants to have sex with someone else of either sex. That should be private between those involved. But when one claims religion as justification to subjugate an entire spectrum of Americans and relegate them to second-class citizens in terms of their rights and liberties, including a Constitutional Amendment to marginalize them; that is harm indeed. And as a Pagan, I will speak for life, liberty and happiness for all! I believe, as our founding fathers did, “that all men are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights.” And I believe, as a Pagan, it isn’t the job of religion to deny or campaign against the rights and liberties of another who happens to be different. You’d think we learned something from the Civil Rights movement, when many of the same claims made against gay folks were hurled at people of color.”

Finally Nancy Green at Kmareka.com finds that sometimes, in the face of Christian scandal, it feels good to be a Pagan.

“It’s unchristian to enjoy someone’s discomfort when they’re caught practicing what they did not preach, but I’m a Pagan so – ha,ha,ha,ha,ha.”

From my perspective the sad thing about this controversy is that Haggard, within the world of evangelicals, was something of a moderate. He was known for helping move the evangelical community to embrace a larger political platform than abortion and gays, his support for environmentalism in particular could be in danger.

“Haggard’s push for action on global warming raised hackles among powerful leaders on the religious right. With Haggard discredited, those leaders may be able to swing the focus back to issues such as abortion. Or the evangelical movement — a solid GOP bloc over several election cycles – could splinter.”

So the real tragedy (from this Pagan’s perspective) isn’t the moral failings of one man. It is the idea that conservative Christian groups will “clean house” and remove such “pagan” notions as environmental responsibility from the table. A “back-to-basics” evangelical base is the last thing our country needs.