By Colleen Slevin – Associated Press

After initial denials Haggard admits to drug use, “‘sexual immorality’

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado Members of the New Life Church were stunned and brought to tears by the Rev. Ted Haggard’s confessions of “sexual immorality,” then accepted his plea for forgiveness with open arms.

Haggard, who had been a leading evangelist and vocal opponent of gay marriage, apologized Sunday in a letter read from the pulpit of the 14,000-member church he founded.

Some in the standing-room-only crowd wiped away tears and embraced each other as they heard Haggard’s words read by a member of the board that fired him a day earlier.

“The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality. And I take responsibility for the entire problem,” Haggard wrote. “I am a deceiver and a liar. There’s a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all of my adult life.”

The scandal has disappointed Christian conservatives, whom President George W. Bush and other Republicans were courting heavily in the run-up to Tuesday’s election.

Many were already disheartened with the president and the Republican-controlled Congress over their failure to deliver big gains on social issues even before the congressional page scandal involving former Rep. Mark Foley, a Florida Republican.

Focus on the Family founder James Dobson will be one of the people overseeing counseling for Haggard, a senior official of Dobson’s organization said.

The counseling process, called restoration, could take years, said H.B. London, vice president for church and clergy at Focus on the Family.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, November 10, 2006. сайтвнутренняя оптимизация сайта цена