Beard: An Ironman Who Played Satan

Day Two of the latest New Life Church sex scandal and nothing new by way of determining what brand of moral depravity led to the resignation of Associate Pastor Christopher Beard.

Late on Monday, the 14,000-member church in Colorado Springs issued a press release, indicating it “became apparent that Beard had displayed poor judgment in several decisions throughout his tenure. This poor judgment included one instance of consensual sexual contact with another unmarried adult several years ago.”

The lack of details has left Colorado Springs Gazette readers weighing in with wild speculation about just what kind of sex it was – and what other surprises may be in store in the post-Ted Haggard perversion purge.One thing is clear: Church leaders have said in the past that Beard was guilty of “poor judgment” when he was reprimanded back in 2002 after he coordinated a hostage training session on the grounds outside the church during which he “armed” 50 men and women with fake assault weapons. A passing motorist thought the training was real, resulting in a SWAT team being alerted. The situation ended peacefully.

Beard’s brief bio, which indicated he has a business degree from Oral Roberts University and a Masters in Christian Counseling – and has led mission trips to 53 countries – was immediately removed from New Life Church’s website.

However, in addition to running the church’s 24/7 ministry designed to train young adults, Beard is an Ironman marathoner who played Satan in the church’s production of The Passion of the Thorn, an annual production at New Life Church. The musical play, which has a similar storyline to Mel Gibson’s controversial movie The Passion, draws annual crowds of 20,000.

Here Satan is described, part of a long story about The Passion of the Thorn that appeared in the June, 2005 issue of Entertainment Design magazine.

Admittedly, most portrayals of Satan in church settings are less than scary. [But the director] insisted upon realism and enlisted nationally known artist Thomas Blackshear to design Satan’s make-up and individually sculpt his horns in classic form. In addition to the two large horns protruding from his head, Satan features spikes tracing the centerline of his head, on his shoulders, down his arms, legs, knees and spine. After a four-hour, full-body session – including a prosthetic mask, actor Christopher Beard, who is in real life, one of the church’s pastors and an Iron Man marathoner, is transformed into a sculpted serpentine demon resembling a nightmarish horned lizard. As the climax nears, Satan and his two dozen similarly horned demon-followers ascend from Hell using an 8’x8′ hydraulic lift and 17 traps in the center stage runway.

Cara DeGette is a longtime editor and columnist at the Colorado Springs Independent.