Pastor Who?

Now that Pastor Ted Haggard has admitted to buying meth and getting a massage from a male prostitute, the White House is downplaying the disgraced religious leader’s connections to the Bush administration.

“He had been on a couple of (conference) calls but was not a weekly participant in those calls,” White House spokesman Tony Fratto was quoted saying in Saturday’s Rocky Mountain News. Fratto maintained that Haggard, who resigned this week as president of the 30-million strong National Association of Evangelicals, has been to the White House “one or two times.”

“But there have been a lot of people who come to the White House,” he said.

Um, Yeah. Right. Anyone can show up and hang out with the president.

Haggard was certainly lying when he initially denied, denied, denied even knowing Mike Jones — (Oh wait! That was the guy I bought meth from and who gave me a massage!) — but his close ties to the White House are no fabrication.

Photo from MSNBC

Here is a portion of Haggard’s Nov. 7, 2003 e-mail to his congregation describing just one trip to Washington DC — at the personal request of the George W. Bush himself — to witness as the president signed the Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2003 and then hang out with him for nearly an hour in the Oval Office.

“Well, on Monday I was in the World Prayer Center and my cell phone rang. It was one of the special assistants to President Bush calling from the White House. It turns out that when the President was reviewing the list of those attending the signing of the partial birth abortion ban, he asked why I wasn’t attending and asked that they call me. So the White House staff got onto the phones and were calling the NAE Washington office, our church office and my cell phone at the same time trying to see if I could come to the signing.

“Of course I could. So I rearranged my schedule (thank you to those of you whose appointments got changed) and flew to Washington on Tuesday to be at the signing on Wednesday. I sat with those from the Senate and House who voted for the bill, and afterward was escorted to the President’s motorcade and taken to the White House. I and seven others were able to spend 55 minutes with the President in the Oval office discussing any issue we liked. It was incredible. I’ll tell you about the discussion in church.”

Others attending that private meeting with the President included Rev. Jerry Falwell from Liberty University, Janet Parshall, author and host of the nationally syndicated radio broadcast “Janet Parshall’s America,” Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) President Dr. Jack Graham, former SBC President Dr. Adrian Rogers, American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, National Religious Broadcasters President Frank Wright, and Dr. Richard Land, the President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

Haggard’s complete e-mail to his congregation can be read here.

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