//US evangelical pastor admits sex 'immorality'

US evangelical pastor admits sex 'immorality'

Rev Ted Haggard speaks at the World Prayer Center on the New Life campus in Colorado Springs. Photo: 2002

Mr Haggard denies having sex with a gay prostitute

BBCNEWS, 5 November 2006

Disgraced former US evangelical leader Ted Haggard has confessed to his followers that he was guilty of "sexual immorality".

"I am a deceiver and a liar," Mr Haggard said in a letter – a day after his New Life Church fired him for what it called "sexually immoral conduct".

A vocal opponent of gay marriage, he earlier admitted buying drugs and having a massage from a gay masseur.

But he denied using the methamphetamine or having sex with the man.

"I am so sorry for the circumstances that have caused shame and embarrassment for all of you," Mr Haggard said in the letter that was read out to New Life Church followers in Colorado Springs.

"There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark and I've been warring against it my entire adult life," the letter said.

'Pastor Ted'

The row erupted last week, after Mike Jones told a Colorado radio station that he had been paid to have sex with Mr Haggard nearly every month over the past three years.

Mike Jones

Mr Jones said stepped forward because of the gay marriage issue

Mr Haggard denied the claims but said he did receive a massage after being referred to Mr Jones by a Denver hotel.

Mr Haggard, 50, who on Thursday stepped down as the head of the 30m-strong National Association of Evangelicals, also admitted that he bought methamphetamine but "never used it".

The issue is being played out against the backdrop of a vote in Colorado and seven other US states on Tuesday on whether to ban same-sex marriages.

Mr Haggard, who is also known as "Pastor Ted" and has five children, has close contacts with the White House.

Full Text of Ted Haggard's Statement in PDF