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Outed preacher abandons ‘restoration’ process
Truth Wins Out claims failure was ‘predictable,’ launches video campaign

by Will Billings . Contributing Writer
NEW YORK, N.Y. — The former pastor of a conservative Colorado Springs mega-church who was exposed in 2006 for having sex with a male prostitute has left his church and its “ex-gay” program.

Ted Haggard, former pastor of New Life Church, entered an intensive “restoration” process after he was fired from his senior pastor position and resigned as head of the National Association of Evangelicals amid allegations that he had an affair with a male prostitute.

“As far as predictions go, the failure of Haggard’s ‘ex-gay’ program was not exactly like picking the New York Giants over the undefeated New England Patriots in the Super Bowl,” said Truth Wins Out (TWO) Executive Director Wayne Besen. “It is pretty much a given that these [“ex-gay”] programs don’t work and we hope Haggard comes to a genuine place of love and self-acceptance.”

On Feb. 7, the disgraced pastor’s church announced that the Rev. Ted Haggard had quit the church’s five-year “spiritual restoration” process. He agreed to five years of ex-gay rehabilitation in January 2007 — with one of his mentors claiming just three weeks later that Haggard was “completely heterosexual.”

Haggard then embarrassed New Life leaders when he requested donations while he sought a degree in counseling. The donations were to be collected by Families with a Mission, a Colorado non-profit run by Paul Huberly, a twice-convicted registered sex offender.

Haggard will reportedly maintain an undefined “accountability relationship” with Phoenix pastor Tommy Barnett, who served on the New Life restoration team. Throughout the scandal, New Life has failed to explain how “ex-gay” prayer or counseling could turn Haggard — or anyone else — straight.

“It is time for conservative churches to admit that their approach to homosexuality is an experiment that has failed,” said TWO’s Besen. “How many lives will be shattered, families destroyed and careers ruined before the religious right accepts gay people for who they are?”

TWO is a non-profit organization that counters right-wing propaganda, exposes the “ex-gay” myth and educates America about gay life. The organization said Haggard’s inability to go from gay to straight is no surprise and a predictable ending to failed “ex-gay” programs.

TWO is also introducing a new internet video ad featuring openly gay former Major League Baseball player Billy Bean. In the video, Bean challenges the long-held “ex-gay” theory that playing sports will help to turn gay men to heterosexuality.

The ad begins the organization’s countdown to its March 3 launch of a “new, dynamic” website, featuring an extensive and unprecedented video catalog of “ex-gay” survivors and sexual orientation experts. Each week leading up to the site’s unveiling, TWO will present original videos on “ex-gay” therapy. In all, the group will showcase 14 videos.

“I am proud to work with TruthWinsOut.org to challenge the harmful myths and misconceptions spread by the ‘ex-gay’ industry,” said Billy Bean, author of “Going the Other Way: Lessons from a Life in and out of Major-League Baseball.” “The notion that playing sports makes one heterosexual is patently absurd and I am happy to dispute this bizarre notion. It is unfortunate that ‘ex-gay’ organizations continue to cynically prey on the vulnerabilities of desperate and insecure people.”

info: www.TruthWinsOut.org

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