Haggard's Flock Keeps the Faith -- and Waits

ByBill Blakemore
November 12, 2008, 7:20 AM

Nov. 3, 2006 — -- "While we trust him, we don't put our trust in him," teenager David McNamara told ABC News in front of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo.

"Our faith is not based off of man, but in God's spirit and God's truth," he said.

Young parishioners in front of New Life Church today declared their faith unshaken, despite the scandal enveloping their pastor.

"I personally put my trust in Pastor Ted fully," said McNamara's friend Michael Dedman.

His evangelical pastor, the Rev. Ted Haggard, stepped down temporarily as leader of the 14,000-member church and resigned as president of the 30 million-member National Association of Evangelicals after a self-described former male prostitute alleged that Haggard had paid for sex over a three-year period, and that he had taken methamphetamines.

"I spent time with him at a wedding rehearsal Wednesday night," Dedman said. "I have some sort of relationship with him, and his desire to serve the body of Christ has created an environment in which I can develop."

One young woman on her way into the church acknowledged she doesn't have the full story yet but said her faith won't be shaken:

"I want to hear from the church what's happening," Ashley Bumann said. "You don't learn everything from the media -- but it doesn't matter what happens to the leadership. the church is the same."

"From what I've been taught, you can receive [the church's blessings] from people who aren't with everything necessarily in line," she said.

"When we put our faith in men is when we're in trouble," Michael Dedman said, paraphrasing Scripture.

Haggard's parishioners, young and old, are in limbo, waiting for the full story.

Publicly, Haggard has said that he has always been faithful to his wife, the mother of the their five children, and that he never had a gay relationship with anyone. Today Haggard admitted that he bought methamphetamines from the man who has accused him of paying for sex because he was tempted to try it, but he said he threw it out without using it.

Haggard parishioners young and old believe that whatever the truth, the timing of this accusation was clearly political because Haggard, who was one of the shining stars of the evangelical movement, is also a prominent supporter of an amendment banning gay marriage on the ballot Tuesday in Colorado. There are similar amendments in seven other states.

"It's political, right before the elections," said Brian Boals, who has attended New Life Church for 17 years, to The Associated Press.

"It's ridiculous. People are always saying stuff about Pastor Ted," said 25-year-old E.J.Cox. "You just sort of blow it off. He's just like anyone else in the public eye."

"Oh, I'm sure [it's political]," young Ashley Bumann told ABC. "We're such a big supporter against gay marriages."

Teenager David McNamara said he does not see the fact that Haggard stepped down temporarily as a sign of guilt.

"The reason he would resign is so the church doesn't have to deal with incredible pressures," Dedman said. "If he was around, people could say he was orchestrating things. If anything, his resignation proves his innocence rather than his guilt."

Two other young women at the church told reporters they couldn't believe the allegations:

"I feel horrible. I mean, my heart goes out to him and his family to have to deal with this. Because this is just so ridiculous. I can't believe he would even have to deal with something like this," one of them told Colorado Springs' KKTV.

"I totally believe in him and what he does. I don't believe that at all. I know that he is a good man, " the other said.

One Colorado Springs resident, walking the median strip of a nearby road and carrying a large sign for passing cars to see, is sure who's behind this scandal -- Satan.

"We all sin and we all have problems. We all have difficulties," Danny White told the ABC News team. "That's when Satan usually comes in, especially when someone's a prominent figure like Rev. Ted."

"Thou shalt not lay with a man as with a woman. It is an abomination," reads the biblical quote on White's sign.

"The homosexuals are just exploiting him. In our society, we're calling evil good and good evil," he said.

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