A gay media watchdog has urged news outlets to be wary of their reporting of their coverage of the Ted Haggard scandal as it risks portraying the gay community in a negative light.
Reverend Ted Haggard, Senior Pastor of the New Life Church in Colorado, resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals last week amid allegations that he had sex with a gay rent boy.
The revelation has created a media frenzy in the US and Mr Haggard has been keen to avoid questions instead stating in a letter to his church that, “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 Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation claims that his comments are offensive to gay and lesbian Americans and is urging media outlets to avoid using the cleric’s description.
Talking to reporters outside his house, Mr Haggard denied the sex allegations but said he did buy drugs from the man because he was curious, reports the Associated Press.
“I bought it for myself but never used it,” he told the AP.
Mr Haggard’s tortuous explanation came two days after the male escort, Mike Jones, stepped forward to allege that Haggard was a monthly client for the last three years.
On Thursday, Haggard had resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals and stepped down as pastor of his 14,000-member Colorado Springs church, pending an investigation of the charges.
According to the New York Times, Mr Jones failed a polygraph test that he had volunteered to take, but the man who administered the test said the results may be skewed because Mr Jones had slept little and was suffering a migraine headache. The escort insists his accusations were true and said he would take another lie detector test.
Members of Mr Haggard’s 14,000-member mega-church were stunned. “It’s political, right before the elections,” Brian Boals, a New Life member for 17 years, told the AP.
Mr Jones told reporters he decided to go public because he was upset when he discovered Haggard and the New Life Church had publicly opposed same-sex marriage.
He said: “It made me angry that here’s someone preaching about gay marriage and going behind the scenes having gay sex.”