Saturday, November 4, 2006

Ted Haggard

"At the end of the day, this comes down to bringing Jesus into politics," he says. "Right now, it's not Ted Haggard on trial.  It's Jesus.  This is about the God he represents.  When you make yourself a public figure and you fall, you bring the perception of your God with you."  -- David Kuo, author of “Tempting Faith.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Kuo himself does not follow where his own logic should take him.

As has been reported in the last month, Rev. Ted Haggard has been accused by a self-described mail prostitute of having a three year homosexual affair while using illegal drugs, including methamphetamine (a.k.a. “speed”).

Oh yes, Rev. Haggard is a vociferous opponent actively campaigning against gay marriage in Colorado, as well as preaching to his large congregation that faith can answer any problem.

The accuser did “fail” a “lie detection test” and this fact has been widely reported in the media.  At the same time, the Reverend Haggard has admitted by the drugs and that he has indeed met this accuser at a hotel for a “message.”

What is one to believe regarding the facts?

First of all, it is not widely known that there is much scientific skepticism regarding “lie detector tests.”

CSICOP, a project of the Center for Inquiry reports:

“The secret of the polygraph-the polygraphers' own shameless deception-is that their machine is no more capable of assessing truth telling than were the priests of ancient Rome standing knee-deep in chicken parts.  Nonetheless, the polygrapher tries to persuade the unwitting subject that their measurements indicate when a lie is being told.  The subject, nervously strapped in a chair, is often convinced by the aura surrounding this cheap parlor trick, and is then putty in the hands of the polygrapher, who launches into an intrusive, illegal, and wide-ranging inquisition.  The subject is told, from time to time, that the machine is indicating "deception" (it isn't, of course), and he is continuously urged to "clarify" his answers, by providing more and more personal information.  At some point (it's completely arbitrary and up to the judgment of the polygrapher), the test is stopped and the polygrapher renders a subjective assessment of "deceptive response."  Even J. Edgar Hoover knew this was senseless.  He banned the polygraph test from within the ranks of the FBI as a waste of time….  The truth is this: The polygraph is a ruse, carefully constructed as a tool of intimidation, and used as an excuse to conduct an illegal inquisition under psychologically and physically unpleasant circumstances.  Spies know how to beat it, and no court in the land permits submission of polygraphs, even to exonerate the accused.”  (Go to http://www.csicop.org/si/2001-07/polygraph.html .)

Therefore it would seem to then go to the likelihood of the stories presented: the accuser’s and the accused.

Buying “speed” is no routine matter: it is one of the most addictive and dangerous drugs available and only illegally.  Furthermore, how did it come to pass that the drug was purchased from or in cooperation with a self-confessed male prostitute?  It is often claimed that “speed” and male (or female) prostitutes are often intertwined.  Drugs and prostitution DO have a relationship.

What may be concluded is that the accuser’s over-all story is more likely, but that it does not yet rise to the level of certainty that would be needed to convict a person in a court of law.  But it would be fair to conclude, and many will claim, that Rev. Haggard has some deep problems.

But many will not mention Rev. Haggard’s biggest problem: he like so many others, live in a world that denies reality.  Rev. Haggard lives in a world of denial.

Is the Bible really inerrant and without contradiction?  Is the earth and universe really 6000 years old?  Was Jesus really God?  Is homosexuality really immoral?  Is Rev. Haggard’s moral system really absolute?

The overwhelmingly likely answer is “no” to all the above about which Rev. Haggard is absolutely certain.

In fact it is easy to find contradictions within the Bible: one cannot for instance reconcile the key chronology of the crucifixion of Jesus nor the text of the sign placed on his cross by the Romans as obvious examples.

Further, there is no scientific evidence that points to a young earth; none whatsoever.

There is also no way to determine the “divinity” of a person, particularly one who is long dead, such as Jesus.  Any suggestions?

As far as morality goes, is there really a need for a moral system that does not relate morality to harm or help to others, but instead is based on supposed offenses taken by an invisible omnipotent and omniscient deity who created everything in the first place, including the human nature that some will claim leads to those very offenses?

And finally, on what basis does Rev. Haggard and all the other absolutists expect others to buy into their moral system and follow their leadership when it is clear that they are clueless?

Rev. Haggard’s absolute certainty about everything in life must be called what it is: delusional.  Although he called Richard Dawkins “arrogant” and “elitist” in an interview that Dawkins had with Haggard, (go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmNjfpoRZpE ) the plain truth is that there is nothing more arrogant than certainty or believing that one has been created in the image of a God.

Religious apologists such as David Kuo decry the mixing of religion and politics, and of hypocrisy; but will not deal with the facts: if the literalists and absolutists are wrong in the certainty, then indeed, the moderate interpretation is even more suspect.  It takes chutzpah to “compromise” or make judgments about the Word of God, does it not?  Who is David Kuo or anyone else to question or modify it – unless it cannot be proven to be the Word of God after all?  Agnosticism would seem to be the only approach with integrity and a failure to believe based on lack of evidence, or atheism, completely reasonable.

Although not all persons who claim certainty about the inerrancy, absolutism and accuracy of their Biblical belief system turn to illicit sexual affairs and drugs, they are also delusional.  The tragedy is their living of their only known and verifiable life in pursuit of a heaven there is no reason to believe follows.

This, of course, will NEVER be reported in the mainstream media, as obvious as it is.

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