Haggard was born in Indiana. His father, J. M. Haggard, a practicing veterinarian in Yorktown, Indiana, founded an international charismatic ministry featured in the PBS Middletown documentary series. In 1972, at age sixteen, Haggard became a born-again Christian after hearing a sermon from the late evangelist Bill Bright in Dallas, Texas. He was educated at Oral Roberts University, a charismatic Christian university in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
In 1978, Haggard married Gayle Alcorn. The couple have five children: Christy; Marcus (1984), who is also a pastor in Colorado Springs at the Boulder Street Church; Jonathan (1989); Alex (1992); and Elliot (1995).
In November 1984, he was associate pastor of Bethany World Prayer Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana when, according to Haggard, missionary to Mexico City and Haggard confidant/mentor Danny Ost had a vision of Haggard founding his church in Colorado Springs. Haggard moved to Colorado shortly afterwards and founded New Life Church. Initially, the church space was Haggard's own basement, growing to rented spaces in strip malls. At the time he was removed from his job, New Life Church operated from a campus in northern Colorado Springs, reporting a membership of fourteen thousand people.
HAGGARD ADMITS MEETING A GAY ESCORT
PASTOR'S ACCUSER SPEAKS OUT
ACCUSED PASTOR ADMITS HE BOUGHT METH
Mike Jones, the 49-year-old Denver man who raised the allegations this week, quickly refuted Haggards denial.
Shortly after Haggard told reporters outside his home, "I bought it for myself but never used it. I was tempted, but I never used it, Jones told MSNBC-TVs Rita Cosby that Haggard snorted meth in front of him about once a month for two years.
Haggard said he received a massage from Jones after being referred to him by a Denver hotel, but Jones told MSNBC, He always came to my place.
Haggard, 50, said he never had sex with Jones. On Friday, as he was leaving his home with his wife and three of his five children, he said he bought the meth because he was curious.
Haggard stepped down as president of the 30 million-member association Thursday and also gave up leadership of his 14,000-member New Life Church pending the investigation into allegations he had sex with Jones over the past three years.
"It is important for you to know that he confessed to the overseers that some of the accusations against him are true, Ross Parsley, the acting senior pastor at New Life Church stated in an e-mail to church members.
He has willingly and humbly submitted to the authority of the board of overseers, and will remain on administrative leave during the course of the investigation, the e-mail stated. A copy was obtained by KMGH-TV in Denver.
Haggard, who has been called one of the most influential evangelical Christians in the nation, denied the allegations late Wednesday, telling NBC affiliate KUSA-TV of Denver: I've never had a gay relationship with anybody, and Im steady with my wife, Im faithful to my wife. So I don't know if this is election year politics ... or what it is.
Alleged voice mails
It certainly sounds like the same person, Sanders said, adding that he expected to have a final report later Friday.
KUSA-TV reported excerpts late Thursday.
Hi Mike, this is Art, one call began. Hey, I was just calling to see if we could get any more. Either $100 or $200 supply.
A second message, left a few hours later, began: Hi Mike, this is Art, I am here in Denver and sorry that I missed you. But as I said, if you want to go ahead and get the stuff, then that would be great. And Ill get it sometime next week or the week after or whenever.
Jones said Haggard, whose middle name is Art, was referring to methamphetamine. Theres some stuff on there (the voice mails) thats pretty damning, he said.
Jones said he also has an envelope he said Haggard used to mail him cash.
AN ACCUSER'S STORY
Jones: I went though hell deciding what I wanted to
I wanted the story out before the electionEd
Andrieski / AP
Haggard denied the charges in a TV interview on Wednesday, but late Thursday night, New Lifes acting Pastor Ross Parsley wrote an e-mail to the church staff, obtained by The Denver Post, alerting them that he confessed to the overseers that some of the accusations against him are true." Friday morning, Haggard told a KUSA reporter that "I called [Jones] to buy some meth, but I threw it away." Haggard continued to deny using methamphetamines or having sex with Jones, whom Haggard said he contacted for a massage after getting a referral from a staffer at a Denver hotel.
NEWSWEEKs Andrew Murr spoke by phone late Thursday night with Jones, 49, at his apartment in Denver. Friday morning, Jones failed a lie detector test before making an appearance on a radio station that arranged for the test. The administrator of the test said Jones might have failed because of stress or because of his inability to sleep.
How did you meet Ted Haggard?
How did you determine he was Haggard?
Youre sure the man you had a relationship with is Ted
What kind of evidence do you have that it is him?
What made you come forward now?
Then I was listening to Peter Boyless talk show last Friday, and it was about gay marriage. I was getting pissed listening to the callers, so I e-mailed Peter and I said, Im over the hypocrisy from [the religious groups in] Colorado Springs. You want a big story? Give me a call.
I didnt talk to anyone. I am not active with any groups. It was a decision I made on my own. I went though hell deciding what I wanted to do. But I wanted the story out before the election. People are accusing me of doing this for money. I could have blackmailed this guy. I really could have. But I didnt. It could possibly have an effect. It may not change one vote, but I thought I have to do it. I cried many nights thinking about it. I knew that the hypocrisy needed to come out.
You claim that you last saw Haggard in August 2006, so youd
known who he was for months. Did you ever confront him?
Ive read you say that Haggard used crystal meth.
Was Art frequently asking you to get drugs?
On the voicemail messages that you say were left for you by
Art, he seems to think you had methamphetamines.
Obviously, your credibility is on the line, and people will
look into your background. Have you ever been arrested?
How often did you see Haggard?
What were you charging him?
Haggards church is investigating. Will you talk to them?
Tom Brokaw interviews Ted Haggard, President of the National Association of Evangelicals, representing 45,000 churches, and New Life Church's pastor.
IN GOD THEY TRUST
Welcome to New Life Church, in Colorado Springs. Every year,
this evangelical church marks the Easter holiday with an elaborate
staging of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The cast and crew of 750 are drawn largely from the church membership.
Christ is personal, he says. He loves you and he loves me... and wants to be there for everyone. Were just trying to get the message out.
Lowman is a 41-year-old former Air Force captain. For Leon, his wife, Venezia, and their four children whose ages range from 4 to 16, life revolves around church activities. New Life offers a sanctuary where the family can find others who share their values.
My children go to public school, so theyre not sequestered in some catacomb-type environment, says Lowman. And so they encounter a lot of different things. By coming here to new life and being involved in the kids programs, that gives a balance and they have a positive peer pressure, if you will.
The entire family is involved in the Easter play Leon plays the part of a Roman centurion.
In the crowd is Karen Monroe, a 43-year-old mortgage loan officer, invited to the play by an acquaintance. While Karen is a born-again Christian, her husband Tom is not, and they have never belonged to the same church. Thats something Karen would like to change.
My husband is the head of the household and really I would like to see my kids to see him in that belief, she says. She is hoping her husband will be moved by the playand the stirring sermon of Pastor Ted Haggardmoved enough to start attending New Life Church.
The message of New Life Church also resonates with Brandon Bernadoni, a 22-year-old U.S. Air Force Academy cadet. Although he was a varsity athlete, a self-described party animal, and popular with girls, Brandon says he only found true fulfillment in his new faith.
Its incredible to know and wake up and feel the light of day just come through the curtains in the morning, and just to feel the presence of God as I walk to class, says Bernadoni. To feel that I have meaning and purpose, and to know for a fact why Im here.
The New Life Church is one of the phenomenally popular and successful mega-churches in America, with a membership of 11,000. They can seat 8,000 here in what they call the living room. They dont have pews or stained glass, but this is the new wave in the evangelical movement.
On a typical Sunday, tens of thousands of worshippers attend services at a sports arena at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, at TD Jakes Potters House in nearby Dallas, and at Rick Warrens Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. The number of mega-churches in the U.S. has tripled in the last decade.
At New Life, when the parishioners are through worshipping, they can come out to the coffee bar, the child care center, to the book store, or to the prayer center nearby. This is a community in every sense of the word.
Evangelicals have created their own highly profitable pop universe, including Christian rock, video games, and books such as Rick Warrens phenomenal world wide best-seller The Purpose Driven Life. And the New Life Church embraces that culture, opening its services with an hour of Christian rock-gospel.
Ted Haggard, New Life's pastor, is a 49-year-old graduate of Oral Roberts University. New Life Church is a non-denominational, with an emphasis on the Holy Spirit, exuberant prayer style, and a belief in angels and demons.
After the music, Haggard takes the stage for a Bible based lesson in how to be a good Christian.
Tom Brokaw: A traditional Catholic who comes here or an Episcopalian may walk in and walk out and say, thats more a concert and pep rally.
Ted Haggard, New Life pastor: Thats right. Actually, it really is a rally atmosphere. But we teach the scriptures. We have a worship, which are the fundamentals of Christian worship for the last 2,000 years. But I like the lights. I like the fun. I like it fast moving.
When I stand up and teach I try to make the Biblical principles real. So that it applies to how they relate to their husbands and wives and bosses and co-workers that week. I remember, as a little boy, my dad leaning down and saying into cute little Teddy Haggard's face; if you get into trouble at school, you're into twice as much trouble at home.
Brokaw: Most of the churches that I know of, and certainly the ones I attended, at some point, you out loud acknowledge that you were a sinner or that you came face-to-face to guilt that you may feel.
Brokaw: I didnt see any of that here.
Haggard: Well, we do talk about sin. But, see, the issue is Jesus took care of our sin. And Jesus removes guilt from our life. So the emphasis in our church isnt how to get your sins removed because thats pretty easy to do. Jesus did that on the cross. He emphasis in our church is how to fulfill the destiny that Gods called you to.
Brokaw: Youre making it easier for them.
Haggard: Making it easier for them just like Jesus did, just like Moses did.
Ted Haggard believes that America is entering a new period of religious intensity that will alter both souls and society.
Brokaw: Whats the biggest misconception in the media, in the country about the phenomenal rise really of the Evangelical movement in America?
Haggard: Its not political. It is authentically a spiritual renewal. And people are responding to the goodness of the scripture and the goodness of gods love, the assurance of eternal life. And so its a spiritual renewal thats taking place and leading to the growth of churches that has political ramifications.
Brokaw: What are the political ramifications?
Haggard: Well, once people make a decision that God created them, then all of a sudden they value life. And they have a higher moral standard.
And as the Easter season turns to summer, a decision by the president becomes a focus of the Evangelicals for spreading their values through the federal judiciary.
Spreading the word
U.S. Air Force Academy cadet Brandon Bernadoni attends a prayer group on campus, and then spends his Friday nights at New Lifes church services aimed at 20-somethings complete with a DJ, a live band, and smoke machines. Its a complete transformation from his former hard partying ways, a change he credits to a former classmate and football buddy.
Brandon Bernardoni: The decision for me to come to this church was based on one of my friends from the academy. He was reading some scriptures to me. And he was just kind of opening my eyes.
Tom Brokaw: Did you have a moment where you felt like you were born again in effect?
Bernardoni: Actually, the moment was that night. And we went pretty late into the night. The next day when I woke up, all of a sudden I wasnt bitter at the world anymore. All of a sudden I felt like I had purpose. All of a sudden I knew exactly why Im on this earth. Scripture, truth and life sunk into my heart.
Brokaw: Did some of the cadets say to each other, Hey, did you hear about old Brandon? He found God. Can you believe that?
Bernardoni: Lots of em say that, actually. To tell you the truth, it did hurt. It hurt me quite a bit at the beginning.
But some of Brandons friends are intrigued by the new direction in his life, especially his roommate, Paul Hollrith.
Paul Hollrith: Hes just going down a different path. And thats what kind of appealing to me, is that it might be overall it might be better than where I am right now.
Brandon often discusses his new found faith with his friend, and he hopes with all his heart that Paul will experience a similar conversion to his own.
Bernardoni: If he never feels a personal relationship with Jesus, I think hell be just kind of missing out on some of the paradise that is to be seen. And I will kind of be torn apart inside a little bit.
Brandon brought his friend to see the Easter play and the story of Jesus suffering and resurrection had a real effect on Paul.
Hollrith: The real question for me is where to go next, because I know that I want to learn and know more.
Leon Lowman also had high hopes for the plays power of persuasion. Were hoping that people will actually decide to become a Christian and that would be the ultimate outcome, says Lowman.
Pastor Ted Haggard encourages New Life members to write down on a prayer card the people whose lives they hope to change.
The Lowmans have won several members of their immediate family over to their beliefs and they hope that Venezias older brother, Rudy, who works in the computer industry, will be next.
Like Brandon, Leons motivation stems from the depths of his own belief. He wants his brother-in-law to know the certainty that he finds in religion.
Leon Lowman: I try to share this with my brother-in-law, Rudy. I was alone. I was by myself. And just crying out to God. You know, Lord help me. Give me some direction; some guidance. And it was just revealed to me inside my heart and inside my mind. You know, the Bible is true, and it was so real. And so there for me that I just wish everybody could experience God like that.
A paycut for faith
Venezia Lowman: The financial side of it was very hard, but the other benefits that came out of it have been a huge blessing for us.
Leon Lowman: What its turned out to be is an increase in every aspect of our lives in terms of personal relationships, family relationships. Being able to participate with the events at the kids schools. All those things have been a big increase for us.
Venezia Lowman: We had to explain to our kids sometimes we cant do what everybody else can do because we just cant afford to go do that. But God is opening up other doors, and giving us other ideas of what to do to try to help our situation. And were not in a terrible situation. Its just different than how it was in corporate America.
Leon and Venezia started a small spa business on the side, but its not working out exactly as they had hoped.
Venezia runs the spa with the help of her mother but the family still is financially stressed by their risk and they are not sure they can stick with it.
Brokaw: The two of you invested so much of your life in this movement. And I know that its not been without financial sacrifice. What happens if you hit that intersection, would you have to make some choices? Which way do you go?
Venezia Lowman: Well, what weve done is that weve stayed on the course where we pray, and we ask God to put us into his will. And we do what he wants us to do.
Tom Monroe: I walked in here sweating bullets. I didnt know what to expect. But it was good. I really enjoyed it.
While Karen already considers herself deeply religious, Tom is more skeptical a spiritual seeker.
Tom Monroe: You know, I try and live my life as well as I can. I think Im a good person. Do I sit there and pray on a regular basis? Probably not. But do I look for something else? I do.
Tom was raised a Baptist, and Karen a Catholic, but like many Americans they arent that concerned with religious affiliation. More than a third of modern churchgoers now go to a different kind of church from their parents thats up from just 4 percent in 1955.
Karen Monroe: I think as long as the belief is there in Jesus Christ and they are teaching the Bible. Im not as concerned about it being Catholic.
The Monroes especially like the fact that New Life offers many activities for their children, 9-year-old Teresa and 5-year-old Josh. And Karen loves the fervor of the young people she sees worshipping at Church.
Karen Monroe: You sit and watch those teenagers down there jumping up and down and worshiping God. I think that is so phenomenal.
Although the church uses modern technology, the text of Pastor Ted Haggards sermons recall a simpler easier time in America. Tom Monroe feels they relate to his daily life. Tom also enjoys the close study of the Bible at New Life.
Tom Monroe: Its very easy just to go in and read the scripture and interpret the Bible. I like that aspect of it. This past year has been very tough. And Ive struggled with it. Just trying, you know, questioning myself is there more to it. Is there more to this life than what im looking forcan God help? Probably. Can I find some solace in, you know, the Bible? I probably could.
But as the family becomes more involved in the church, Tom will find himself struggling with some of his doubts... including what the message means for the larger society.
Mixing politics and religion
Evangelical Christianity is about more than saving souls. For many, it's also about changing society here and now. How much effect are conservative Christians having on the political landscape?
Mixing politics and religion isnt new in America. Democrats have long relied on black churches to rally the faithful.
President George W. Bush came of age politically and spiritually as conservative Christian groups such as Jerry Falwells Moral Majority and Pat Robertsons Christian Coalition were forging powerful new combinations in national politics. Evangelical voters have been central to the presidents success.
Karen Monroe: I thought it was wonderful when President Bush openly came out and expressed his beliefs.
Tom Brokaw: Is that a big part of the reason that you were drawn to him?
Karen Monroe: Yes, absolutely. As much as I stay out of politicsI dont read the paper, I really dont watch the news since I dont have time. The kids come first. And that still was important. Because at least I knew that he is going to preach the word of God. And hes going to make sure they dont strike Gods name out of In God we trust.
President Bush stays in close touch with the new generation of Evangelical leaders and they move easily between the church and the political pulpit.
Phone calls from the White House
Along with other religious conservative leaders, Haggard belongs to an association called the Arlington Group, the members push for common goals such as banning gay marriage and restricting abortion.
Brokaw: Let me read you what Senator John Danforth, an ordained Episcopal priest, a Republican says, Many conservative Christians approach politics with a certainty that they know Gods mind and they can advance Gods will through government. Is he talking about you?
Ted Haggard: Well, I think all of us have a responsibility to advance Gods will through government. But we are in a pluralistic society. Were not talking about theocracy. Were not talking about some group of religious leaders dictating to the government how to write law. Im not a power broker. I dont call presidents. I dont harangue the White House.
Brokaw: You dont have to call him. He calls you.
Haggard: Ill be talking to the White House in another three and a half hours.
Brokaw: About what today?
Haggard: I dont know the subject today. We have a regularly scheduled conference call.
Brokaw: They reach out to you?
Christianity plays an increasingly visible role in Washington. The outspoken Republican Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who speaks often and openly of his strict Catholic faith, is a rising star in his party. The newly-elected Republican Senator from Oklahoma Tom Coburn advocated the death penalty for doctors who perform abortions. And conservative Catholics joined with conservative Evangelicals this spring when Congress took the extraordinary step of intervening in the fight over the death of Terri Schiavo.
I think the country is more comfortable talking about their beliefs and how it impacts them and the system and in their attitudes and actions on a daily basis, says Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kan.). "You have a very faith-oriented nation."
And Evangelical Christians are expanding their agenda. This spring, the National Association of Evangelicals put together a much broader manifesto and some of the movements best known leaders signed it. It included economic justice and the environment.
Haggard: Bible-believing Christians need to be concerned about the environment.
Brokaw: But you also say that concern should be pro-business and free market. Where in cleaning up the air or cleaning up the water in America, did business lead the way without government mandates?
Haggard: Well, Im not against government mandates. I think the Republicans are missing it on the area of the environment, and I think if the Evangelicals nationwide would communicate that, the Republicans would be interested instantly.
Religious leaders have also urged the Bush administration to intervene in Sudan, to protect Christians in China and North Korea, and to combat global poverty. Still domestic social values remain the focus for most Evangelical leaders and their constituents. In a memo to his organizations board, Haggard listed the NAEs number one priority as getting rid of what many see as activist judges.
Brokaw: The order of urgency promoting judicial integrity and restraint, protecting traditional marriage and family, affirming a culture of life, fighting for the hearts and minds of the next generation. And then number five is combating poverty and improving the human condition.
Haggard: Uh-huh. (Affirm)
Brokaw: Thats down on the list. A lot of Christians will say that ought to be number one.
Haggard: Well, thats not a priority list. Thats an urgency list for that day. That particular day, the most important issue was whats going on with our activist Supreme Court.
Conservative Evangelicals have been enraged about state court rulings on gay marriage. In a church service, Haggard said: "The Supreme Court of Massachusetts think of this, ordering the legislature that they need to do this or that, unheard of, its lawlessness everyone."
Haggard: Our justices have run amuck in some situations. And, so I feel very responsible to do what we can to get people on the bench that believe in the rule of law.
In August, conservative Christians staged a rally, simulcast to hundreds of churches, to show their support for John Roberts, the presidents choice later for Chief Justice of the United States.
But the evangelical community was divided over the nomination of Harriet Miers to the court. Some supported it. But other evangelical leaders questioned her conservative credentials and pressured the president to withdraw her name. At the heart of the battle over the Supreme Court is one of the nation's most divisive issues abortion.
Brokaw: Is that your primary objective to overturn Roe v. Wade?
Haggard: Its not my primary objective. But it is one of them. I do believe we have a responsibility as Christians, as Evangelical Christians, to protect the poor and the needy, those who cant defend themselves, those who cant protect themselves.
Fighting same-sex marriage
Last November, Parsley canvassed the swing state of Ohio, urging Christians to register to vote and to support the states amendment banning same-sex marriage. The initiative passed.
While Evangelical voters are only one of many politically active interest groups in the country, they are unified, theyre increasingly well-educated and affluent, and energized by their recent victories.
That makes them a powerful force in electoral politics. In 2004, 3.5 million more evangelical voters turned up at the polls than in 2000 - and they voted overwhelmingly for President Bush.
Rod Parsley, Ohio minister and televangelist: Thats what I told folks when they walked into the booth in Ohio to cast their vote and as I traveled across the country even here in Colorado -- I told folks, When you go in that voting booth and you pull back that curtain, remember Gods still watching.
Parsley says he is not committed to any one party or politician, but his sermons are strongly pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, and pro-Christian.
Among the sentences in his sermons include, I will also raise my voice watch me against the agenda of Americas tortured and angry homosexuals and I will raise my voice against the murder of the old and the unborn alike.
Imposing their beliefs?
Parsley: You have to understand that were not on the attack. Were not on the offensive. It was the Supreme Court in Massachusetts that suddenly found same-sex marriage in the constitution. Its a federal judge that moves to the forefront after the people say stop partial birth abortion. Were not in essence picking these fights, but were ready to fight them when they are waged.
Among those in the audience for Rod Parsley was the Lowman family.
Brokaw: When you come to vote, and think about the people that you would like to have represent you, how important is it, to you, that they share your faith, and share your views on the matters that are important to this church, for example?
Venezia Lowman: Well, its very important to me. I dont vote based off someones political party. I vote based off of what their views are if they align with my views.
Brokaw: And your Christian views?
Venezia Lowman: My Christian views primarily.
Brokaw: Are central to that?
Leon Lowman: Definitely.
Venezia Lowman: Definitely that is what its based offmy Christian views, yes.
The Lowmans also support the campaign against what they see as liberal judges.
Brokaw: Do you think judges should meet the test of the Evangelical movement?
Leon Lowman: I think the Evangelical movement has a right to voice their opinion on what kind of judges they would like to have represent the people.
Brokaw: Where do you think the civil rights movement would have been without activist judges?
Leon Lowman: I think that the civil rights movement would not have gotten off the ground without Christians. Christians and Christian belief, are the ones that ended slavery. Are the ones that actually pushed through civil rights. And so I would not want to pull Christianity out of the public discourse ever.
Bringing faith into politics?
Brandon Bernadoni: I never thought this before. Before I couldnt care two licks about it. As I read more and more, I want to learn more. And then I want to get more involved and make sure that we stay true to the things that were written on that original document, the constitution. You know, our Bill of Rights.
Pastor Ted Haggard believes that bringing faith to bear on politics is simply democracy at work.
Haggard: We should not be discouraged because of lively debate. And we should not be discouraged or fearful with religious infusion of ideas into that debate. Because thats the way it should work so that we overall come out with the best idea.
Brokaw: With all due respect, Pastor Ted, people will say that the mega-churches, the charismatic leaders that they have like pastor Ted and othersand their strong involvement in American politicshave put an overlay of religious orthodoxy on American politics. Because they only support those candidates who meet all of their tests, which are very often quite narrow.
Haggard: Yes, and that would be a problem if we were a unified group. Evangelicals dont have a pope. Evangelicals dont have a Vatican. Evangelicals are as diverse as the general population of America. Theres no reason to be fearful of the religious community here. There is no government-ordained state church in America. So let the debate continue. Its that debate that protects all of our freedoms.
At the moment its a debate the Evangelicals are winning in the political arena.
The obvious success of New Life Church depends not only on the charisma of Pastor Ted Haggard but also on those who have joined the church and become evangelists, spreading the word. It is an essential part of their commitment.
United States Air Force cadet Brandon Bernardoni spent months trying to get his roommate Paul to attend New Life Church, but in the end, Paul renewed his commitment to his Catholic faith.
Paul Hollrith: I would say that it made me like re-think a lot of things. Some minor things are just realizing that I do want to be Catholic. That is my religionits who I am and I like it.
Brandon says he supports Pauls decision.
Brandon Bernardoni: To me whats important is seeking God. And if hes doing that at a Catholic Church, if hes doing it in New Life, if hes doing it at a Protestant Church just down the road. Wherever hes doing, thats fine. All I care about is that Paul is seeking God.
Paul and Brandon are aware of the religious controversies at the academy and believe that theyre exaggerated.
Bernardoni: I get excited about coming to church. And i just want people to know my excitement, to know how I feel you know. Sometimes, I think that gets misconstrued into the fact of them thinking that were trying to force something that they dont want at all.
Brandon still sees evangelizing as an essential part of his own beliefs, beliefs that he feels will last far beyond his academy graduation.
Tom Brokaw: What will be more important to you going forward your military career and your academy training or the transformational experience that you had here?
Bernardoni: Definitely, the transformational experience. Because its who I am. Its the very core essence of my being and thats how I live my life. And that will never change, regardless of the jobs that I get, regardless of the people that I meet. So that is by far the closest thing to my heart.
As for the Lowmans, they have a dual challenge to be good Christians, and keep their small business going.
Venezia Lowman: God is faithful. Hes keeping it going, weve been open a year. Wwere stressed but were real blessed in the stress, so its I think itll work. I think its gonna go it just takes time.
Their other goal is to bring Venezias brother Rudy to their church is another struggle. Its not happened. Rudy says the family get-togethers are much more harmonious when they dont discuss religion at all.
Rudy: Im no where near prepared to join the church they belong to and join the belief system that they have. Im just not heading down that same path at this point in my life. It is frustrating to me because I could be a lot closer to my family if we all believed in the same in the same thing. I think there is some you know we are somewhat distant just because we dont have the same belief system.
The family will manage to continue to get along, without either side changing their beliefs.
Brokaw: Venezia, what sends you over the top when you read comments about the Evangelical movement?
Venezia Lowman: What makes me angry is when that its misrepresented. Im a Christian, and I love the Lord. And thats what its all about. When its misrepresented like were fanatics, that is so not true.
Leon Lowman: Hate mongers.
Venezia Lowman: Yeah, were hate mongers that is so not true. I mean and, in my own personal life, I have many friends who are not Christians. Ive worked with many people who arent Christians and that is not at all how an evangelical Christian really is.
Despite Toms concerns, the Monroes continue to embrace New Life Church. Tom has started reading the Bible. He even bought one for Karen as a gift.
Tom Monroe: Im feeling a lot more comfortable everyday that I do it. I think its a good foundation for my family.
New Life pastor Ted Haggard sees even more growth for his church and for his beliefs.
Ted Haggard: In the Christian community, people vote every Sunday morning by where they go to church. All right, so right now, during this particular era in my lifeI dont want to say this boastfully, but I am winning this election right now.
In the meantime, Haggard will continue to consult with the White House and press for a Supreme Court that will outlaw abortion and gay marriage, insisting hes not interested in a religious take over of the government.
Haggard: Theres no one thats leading the mega-church movement or involved in the mega-church movement that is in favor of a theocracy. None of us are for that. Were all defenders of freedom and liberty for all.
Brokaw: Wouldnt you like to have more members of congress and a senate, however, who adhere to the list of priorities of the NEA?
Haggard: Sure. Absolutely. We would like more representation in the House and in the Senate. We lobby for it. We work for it. We do what we can. And the reason we do that is of course because we believe were right. But so do the other groups and thats why theres debate in the Congress and debate in the House. So we want to give our best argument. And other people will give the opposite argument. And then somebody else will say, I think hes right on that. And I think hes wrong on that. Thats the way it should work. Its a wonderful country.
In fact the Evangelicals dont have some kind of secret formula. They play by the old rules, they organize around their common beliefs, and theyre highly motivated to advance those beliefs in their communities and at the ballot box. If theyre successful, and they gain control of the presidency and the Congress, they wont need a theocracy.
© 2006 MSNBC Interactive