Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Crucifixion of Ted Haggard

Last summer, Israel attacked Lebanon.  The American Christian Right immediately, and predictably, leapt to the defense of the aggressor.  There was one very prominent exception:  the National Association of Evangelicals.  The leader of that group, which represents almost 30 million people, was the Rev. Ted Haggard, who said:

“Our silence is not a rejection of Israel or even a hesitation about Israel. Our silence is to try to protect people. There's a rapidly growing evangelical population in virtually every Islamic country. Much of it is underground in the countries that are more radicalized, and many of the Christians survive based on their neighbors just ignoring the fact that they don't go to mosque.”

This failure to ‘stand for’ Israel drew the usual rebukes from the fruitcakes.  While the Southern Baptists also kept a low (or here) profile, it was the National Association of Evangelicals which made an issue out of rejecting the usual knee-jerk support for the Zionists. Most of the usual blow-hard Evangelical leaders made a big show of supporting Israel.

Israel has carefully built the unlikely coalition with American Evangelicals since the late 70’s, and there is a great fear that this alliance will fall apart, and with it American support for Israeli genocide.  The new alternative is called replacement theology or supersessionism, and it terrifies the Zionists (see here, for the kind of thinking it leads to).  Of course, the actions of people like Haggard were partly based on the fact that the main target of Zionist murdering in south Lebanon was Christian communities (in fact, the first Christian communities). 

Within a couple months of Haggard’s anti-Zionist apostasy, he was forced out of his church and his leadership roles on the basis of allegations of gay sex and drug use made by an accuser who failed a polygraph test (with an interesting background including a ‘run in’ with the law, and a recent bankruptcy).  While it is fun to mock the fact that Haggard is said to be now ‘cured’ of ‘teh gay’, it is worth noting that Haggard was relatively liberal (he supported gay ‘civil unions’, and thought global warming was an important issue, ideas that would have killed most of the fruitcakes).  The conspiracy theory was that Haggard was forced out by the Gay Establishment because of his opposition to gay marriage.  Given his very liberal attitudes towards homosexuality, at least by Christian fruitcake standards, he seems to be an odd target.  A far more likely reason for his crucifixion was that he was leading the beginnings of a rift between American Evangelicals and Zionism.