Evangelical Scandals: Who Matters Now?
At The Revealer, Jeff Sharlet, who knows what he's talking about when it comes to Ted Haggard, has an insightful post about why today's Times article noting the declining membership of the fallen preacher's New Life Church, and resulting staff layoffs, has less to do with Haggard's john and meth than it does the cult of personality. Jeff says:
But I don't see the staffing troubles of a megachurch that no longer possesses national political power as national news. Especially when there's another political preacher who could use some press scrutiny, Pastor Mac Hammond of Minnesota, a rising star in the mold of Ted Haggard. The Minnesota Monitor has been doing good work sifting through Hammond's seemingly shady finances, which apparently include his church's purchase of a stunt plane for their pastor, not to mention a lot of questionable loans.
But outside the Minnesota press, the story has received almost no attention -- probably for the same reason Ted Haggard avoided scrutiny even as he moved into the first tier of evangelical GOP power brokers. The national press can't see the politics of the new model of evangelical politics: younger, regional bosses like Haggard, Hammond, Ohio's Rod Parsley, and Seattle's Mark Driscoll, all of them hipper in style than dinosaurs like Falwell and James Dobson. They talk nice, and they play local, but that doesn't mean that their impact is limited, as Haggard proved before he became the latest poster boy for fundamentalist hypocrisy.