Before allegations of a three-year relationship with a male prostituee in Denver were made public in November 2006, Haggard was one of the most prominent evangelical leaders in America. He was the founder and pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, which had 14,000 members. Haggard rose to national prominence as New Life became one of the most powerful churches in America during the 1990s. In 2003, Haggard was named president of the National Association of Evangelicals, an umbrella group that calls itself the largest evangelical group in America. Over the next three years, Haggard traveled frequently for the NAE, often meeting with heads of state internationally and other top political officials. Haggard developed a close association with the Bush White House, reportedly meeting with the president and other administration officials on several occasions. Because of his outspoken conservative views on political and moral issues, he was commonly quoted in--and covered by--the media. In 2005, he was named by Time magazine as one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in America.
Haggard, 52, is married and has five children.
What is the National Association of Evangelicals?
The NAE claims a membership of 45,000 churches and 30 million individuals. It provides support to churches and other Christian organizations, engages in political and legal activity on behalf of evangelicals, and runs an international relief organization, World Relief.
Why is New Life Church significant?
Haggard founded the church in 1984, with 20 people meeting in his basement. Today, with 14,000 members, it is one of the largest churches in Colorado, with a campus on the outskirts of the city.
Why is Colorado Springs significant for evangelicals?
Partly because of Haggard and New Life Church, the city has during the past decade become the epicenter for American evangelical life. Haggard has saidd that when he arrived in Colorado Springs, only 10 percent of people went to church; he called it a "pastor's graveyard." Since then, the city has become home to evangelical publishing houses such as NavPress, mission groups including Youth With a Mission, and other prominent evangelical organizations such as Focus on the Family and the World Prayer Center (which is affiliated with New Life Church).