Pastor Ted eBay Auction Nixed

The auction of the Ted Haggard Massage Table was abruptly cancelled after a Delaware ministry threatened to launch a boycott of eBay.

Male escort Mike Jones was selling the massage table where he claims “it all happened” during his alleged three year sex-for-money relationship with the fallen pastor. EBay representatives have said the massage table was removed from the auction block because the proceeds were to go to charity, which is a violation of policy. The bids for the table were up to $1,275 when the item was removed.Jones had said he planned to donate the proceeds from the sale to Project Angel Heart, which delivers meals to people with HIV/AIDS and other illnesses.

It is unclear exactly how much influence Transforming Congregations had in the decision. At its Website the Delaware-based ministry noted that the auction was not cancelled “because of moral or ethical concerns.” Transforming Congregations supports the theory of the ex-gay movement, that is, that homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching” and gays and lesbians can walk away from the “lifestyle.”

“Mike Jones has indicated he may try to list the item again,” according to the posting.

The following is the full posting from the ministry, urging supporters to threaten a boycott if the item was not removed, including a sample letter to eBay.

TED HAGGARD MASSAGE TABLE ON EBAY

I recently discovered that Mike Jones, the gay prostitute that “outed” Rev. Ted Haggard, is selling his massage table on eBay. Even though Jones claims the proceeds will go to an AIDS charity, this act is reprehensible.

It is very difficult to register a complaint with eBay, and almost impossible to do so through their website. I called the corporate offices in California and was given a fax number to use. It is 408-376-7401. I have sent a message (which follows at the end of this report) that can be used as a model for you to fax eBay with your concerns. The auction ends on Sunday, March 18, so keep that in mind if you respond. And be sure to include your eBay user name if you are a registered buyer/seller.

I asked them to remove the offensive item and I will follow up with how they respond. If the item is not removed, I also intend to write to their corporate officers, whose addresses are:

Pierre Omidyar, Founder and Chairman of the Board
Meg Whitman, President and CEO
William C. Cobb, President, eBay North America
eBay Inc.
2145 Hamilton Avenue
San Jose, CA 95125

MEMO TO EBAY

From: Rev. Karen Booth
To: Customer Relations
Re: Offensive Listing

To Whom It May Concern:

I want to draw your attention to eBay item 290092184603 “Ted Haggard Massage Table.”

This item is not only offensive to any person in the eBay community who might be personally connected to Mr. Haggard, but is also highly offensive to Christians, particularly conservative evangelicals. I think it is a violation of eBay’s stated Community Values and I ask you to remove the listing from the eBay website.

I have put an alert on my ministry’s national website and have also informed other national Christian ministries, including the American Family Association. (The auction is also being discussed on several Internet blogs.) If the offensive listing is not removed, I will encourage my supporters to boycott eBay, which I also intend to do.

Thank you for your consideration.

And this is the follow-up post on the ministry’s Website:

The eBay auction for the Ted Haggard Massage Table was cancelled as of 3/18/2007. If you contacted eBay to express your concerns or register a complaint, please do so again to thank them for doing the right thing.

Further follow up – In a newspaper article, eBay stated that they cancelled the auction for charity listing violations and not because of moral or ethical concerns. Mike Jones has indicated he may try to list the item again.

Cara DeGette is a senior fellow at Colorado Confidential, and a columnist and contributing editor at the Colorado Springs Independent. E-mail her at cdegette@coloradoconfidential.com.

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