by Geraldo Rivera | Nov 06, 2006
Almost fifty years ago, Burt Lancaster brilliantly portrayed a populist preacher named Elmer Gantry, a morally corrupt womanizer who realizes that his so-called religion brings unlimited opportunities to score money and babes galore.
Created in a 1927 novel by Sinclair Lewis, the fictional Gantry's hypocritical misuse of religion is mirrored in real-life by whore-mongers like the Reverend Jimmy Swaggart...and crooks like the Reverend Jim Bakker...both of whom used their television ministries to score chicks and live lavish lives, all while condemning so-called sinners.
But at least these tricksters didn't use their pulpits to accumulate political power and openly campaign against people whose life styles they condemned in public while emulating in private...like the Reverend Ted Haggard did, before he admitted to 'sexual immorality' after allegations about sex with a gay prostitute and crystal meth use.
"I'm a deceiver and a liar," says an apology letter by Haggard read Sunday to the thousands of parishioners packed into his New Life Super Church in Colorado Springs. "There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I've been warring against it all my adult life."
Then why make the lives of others so miserable? How could Haggard look in the mirror? He's a married father of three, who constantly promoted his own supposedly model family as the ideal.
Like many big-time evangelicals, Haggard was as much a media savvy politician as a preacher. For example, as president of the National Evangelical Association he was part of the White House weekly conference call to big-shots in the movement, and got advice there on how to promote the ban on gay marriage on the Colorado ballot Tuesday; and he did it at the same time he was visiting the body-building gay prostitute to buy hard drugs he says he didn't use, and get massages, which supposedly didn't have happy endings. Sure I believe that.
Remember when President Clinton parsed the word sex, saying famously that, "I did not have sex with that woman,"?
In claiming that oral sex wasn't real sex, at least the former president never claimed to be holier than thou. And wasn't it fun later to watch so many of those moralistic politicians who attacked him at impeachment later exposed as having mistresses and love children?
But back to the hypocrite Haggard, and others who pretend to represent one set of values, while living the opposite. At what point are we going to have the courage to pierce their insincere veil of religion and treat them as the politicians they really are? Is there a difference between Haggard and Foley? One self-hating, hypocritical, homosexual preached against gay marriage from the pulpit, the other from the halls of Congress.
And tell me again why we have to give tax breaks to these fakes whose real message is that we should do as they say, not as they do?