As an atheist I find neither joy nor solace in Ted Haggard's removal from his position as Senior Pastor of New Life Church, the largest Evangelical organization in the United States. On the contrary, I feel sympathy for a man who had a deep sexual attraction to other men but was forbidden from being honest about who he was.
The statement released by Pastor Ted (as he liked his congregation to call him) reveals someone who was tortured for many years by the double life he'd been living. "The fact is," Pastor Ted wrote, "I am guilty of sexual immorality, and I take responsibility for the entire problem. I am a deceiver and a liar. There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I've been warring against it all of my adult life."
The conflict Pastor Ted must have gone through was undoubtedly intense. The book he lived his life by, the Bible, was decidedly harsh on this subject. Leviticus 20:13 states that "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death."
Pastor Ted believed this heart and soul, and yet he couldn't deny who he was. Of course, a few chapters before this oft-quoted verse (Leviticus 11:10-12), the Bible also states that eating shellfish is an abomination. So either homosexuality isn't as bad as fundamentalists assert, or everyone who's been to Red Lobster is already condemned. But if there's any justice in the humiliation he's now experiencing, it's that for twenty years he publicly condemned homosexuals who were seeking nothing more than to live their lives openly and honestly. For that he should seek forgiveness.