Wednesday, August 24, 2005

And Now to Haggard

I turned on my computer tonight to find a very nice comment on my post calling out Ted Haggard from Andrew, who writes:
Maybe you missed it, but Haggard was on CNN, ABC, and radio several times yesterday doing exactly what you asked for. He said plainly that Robertson doesn't speak for evangelicals and that, though Robertson has a right to free speech, his suggestion of assassination is illegal and ill-advised.

I agree completely.
Since I have so few readers, (this is still an unannounced blog, all of my readers except for my wife and one friend, who is on vacation this week and so not reading, stumble here), I always check to see who is looking at the blog and especially who the commenters are. I found it interesting that Andrew was posting from a ISP address registered to New Life Church, perhaps not coincidentally the place where Ted Haggard is the pastor. Nice to see you have your pastor's (boss's?) back, Andrew.

Wanting to honor Andrew's comment, I took a look at what Haggard had to say. In the LA Times article quoted in the earlier post he said:
"if this dictator starts to think of evangelicals as people who are gunning for him, that could be difficult for missionaries there."
This is not exactly what Andrew said he said, and somewhat, uh, beside the point, so I looked further and came across a great article from Ted Olsen at Christianity Today, in which he covers the responses (and press coverage) of many Evangelical leaders. Olsen quotes from Ted Haggard's appearance on CNN at length, and I'll give it to you here:
I think you have to understand the context of it. You know his program has one section of it that's a Christian exhortation, and then another section where he's a political pundit. And I think what he was saying was, we have a looming problem down south, and there are several bad options there. And he's saying maybe the least of the bad options is to do something about the dictator. Â… The First Amendment is wonderful. People have free speech privileges. He wasn't writing a memo to the White House recommending a public policy decision. He was not recommending something to the State Department. He was not exposing himself sexually on the platform the way Janet Jackson did. Instead, he was having a political discussion, where they were randomly working with some ideas. For Jesse Jackson [who called for the FCC to investigate the remarks] to exaggerate it this way is just as appalling as what Pat Robertson said, I think. Â… We're addressing it, we're not taking it lightly. Nobody is taking it seriously as a policy issue. So the system is working. Everything is fine. Nobody's going to assassinate this man. But we do realize he is a major problem. Â… Pat Robertson was wrong in recommending this. He was wrong in saying it. But he was not wrong in being able to just openly discuss it the way political pundits do all the time. Now, if you take his words as from a religious Christian leader, as a recommendation, then we have a problem. But I don't think that's what he did And so you have to sort through that just a little bit, but I think what he was saying was, if our choice is a major war or the some way to deal with this military dictator, then we need to deal with the military dictator rather than have another Islam on our hands. Â… What [Robertson] said was not illegal. What he recommended was illegal.
Oh Ted, this is not good. I have trouble with a number of things you said:
  • You can't have it both ways, saying at this moment Pat's a commentator and this moment he's a minister. It is disingenuous to suggest otherwise, and I'm not sure even Robertson makes this distinction.
  • Why bring up Jesse Jackson and Janet Jackson in this? Do you really think Janet's momentary exposure is worse than this? Really?
  • Chavez is not a "military dictator". He would have liked to have been, but his coup failed, and after several years in jail, he went on to be elected President. Elected is the key word here. Yes, he's a clown, and maybe a threat to the US, but he was elected, twice. He is not a dictator.
  • Why do you feel you have to minimize what Robertson said? Isn't minimizing just a slightly nicer form of excusing?
  • Which political pundits, especially political pundits who have run for President themselves and who have access to the current President, "openly discuss" politiacal ssassinationtion "all the time"? I know that people like Ann Coulter and Bill O'Reilly call for the death of political opponents from time to time, is that what you mean?
So Andrew, thanks for commenting, but after reading this, I'm sorry to say that Ted Haggard didn't do what I was hoping he would. I wish he'd just said what Al Mohler, dean of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary said (also in Olsen's article):
"He has brought embarrassment upon us all. With so much at stake, Pat Robertson bears responsibility to retract, rethink, repent, and restate his position on this issue. Otherwise, what could have been a temporary lapse of judgment can become an enduring obstacle to the Gospel."

See Ted, it's not that hard.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

That's the problem with looking at an interview second-hand. You miss so much. Jesse Jackson brought up Janet and Justin. Not Ted. Ted was saying exactly what you're saying: "Why are you bringing this up in the Robertson context?" It really didn't make any sense.

When Lou Dobbs asked him point-blank if he condemned the assasination call, Haggard said, "Absolutely." It was only when Lou was asking questions trying to understand why Robertson would say such a thing that Ted offered the explanations you posted. Any time he got the chance, he emphatically stated that Pat's position is not representative of evangelicals.

Here's a nifty one-liner from Knight Ridder (It's listed on the page you link to citing your incomplete transcript from CNN...You seem to have missed it...):

"Pat doesn't speak for evangelicals any more than Dr. Phil speaks for mental health professionals." - Ted Haggard

The reason Ted is minimizing the statement is that he is not out for Pat's head on a platter. Shooting a guy when he's down is no more Christian than the foolish remark Pat made. Ted's trying to strongly condemn the sin while loving the sinner--isn't that what we all try to do as Christians?

By the way, Pastor Ted is meeting with Hugo Chavez' people tomorrow in Mexico to help smooth things over and clarify Evangelicals' position. I really think he's doing as much as he can to do the right thing here...

And, for the record, I do work at New Life Church. I happen to like Pastor Ted (shock!) and when I notice a site like yours which writes only part of the story, I like to help the whole picture be seen. Sorry if I have bothered you by it...