The other church
Like Shakespeare’s impact on the English language, the extent to which we reference the Bible (whether consciously or not) on a daily basis is immeasurable.
From scripture that has developed into common sayings to passages that now define the most basic rules of our modern and democratic society, the impact of Judeo-Christian values in the world today extends far beyond the realm of religion, having instead become a tenet of our everyday lives.
That being said, religion remains a powerful force from politics to ethics, and it sure is nice to have the Bible on your side, especially in countries like America with large and influential populations of devout practitioners. Sadly, many influential religious figures use their power for their own gain instead of for the greater good, catering to the truly faithful on campaigns of hate for the single purpose of self gain.
And, just like their political counterparts, many of these religious figures, often men, are actually living shocking double lives. Forced to lie about their true identities and emotions, it is a bittersweet moment of irony whenever an anti-gay religious leader turns out to be gay themselves. And it happens so very often.
Married with children, George Rekers is a psychologist and ordained Southern Baptist minister known for founding the Family Research Council and for strongly supporting conversion therapy. In his work, he refers to homosexuality and transsexualism as “gender disturbances,” thus recommending behavior therapy as well as physical punishment to help stop “gender identity disorder.”
His intolerant history certainly made things awkward in 2010 when he was caught returning from a European vacation with a 22-year-old rent boy named Jo-Vanni Roman, who was available for hire on Rentboy.com. At first, Rekers alleged that he had merely hired the boy to help him carry luggage; he later claimed that he was trying to help Roman abandon his homosexual ways. “I deliberately spend time with sinners with the loving goal to try and help them,” he would later write in a statement.
Roman soon came forward to clarify that the two had engaged in sensual massages and body contact during their time together and that Rekers had constantly requested nude photographs of him. “It’s a situation,” Roman explained, “where he’s going against homosexuality when he is a homosexual.”
Rekers continued to deny that he was gay or aware of Roman’s career, but he was still removed from the board of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality.
Reverend Matthew Makela
Michigan-based Lutheran Reverend Matthew Makela had a history of spreading anti-LGBTQ sentiment, such as saying that transgender people aid “opportunistic sickos in preying upon children and others.”
But that didn’t stop him from actively looking for some fun on the gay hookup app Grindr. In one message that was later published, Makela had written to one man saying “I love to make out naked. Oral and massage. And I top” as well as “I would love to mess around with a bi-curious guy.”
Haggard was the founder and former pastor of the New Life Church in Colorado, as well as a founder and leader of several other religious and evangelical groups. He petitioned to ban same-sex marriage in Colorado in 2006.
His facade came crumbling down that same year after a male escort and masseur came forward to reveal that Haggard had been paying him for sex for three years and that the pastor had also purchased crystal meth from him. “It made me angry that here’s someone preaching against gay marriage and going behind the scenes having gay sex,” the escort remarked. “I had to expose the hypocrisy. He is in the position of influence of millions of followers, and he’s preaching against gay marriage. But behind everybody’s back [he’s] doing what he’s preached against.”
Although he immediately denied all charges, Jones later confessed and resigned from his religious leadership positions. Other evangelical leaders met with Jones and determined that he was gay, and they worked with him to move forward from his sin. Other allegations later revealed that Haggard had been involved in nonconsensual sexual contact with a young volunteer at his church who was later paid for his silence.
Though he claimed in 2010 that he was no longer attracted to men, Haggard has come to support same-sex marriage as a civil institution.