Let me digress for a moment…
A few days ago, I watched an HBO documentary by Alexandra Pelosi entitled “Friends of God.” (The video showing an evangelical anti-evolution seminar that I blogged a few weeks ago was from this documentary.) Ted Haggard is featured prominently in the documentary. His downfall from high influence due to his meth-and-gay-sex scandal broke just as the documentary was wrapping up filming, if I recall correctly. In one interview, he speaks passionately of the need for religious leaders to be moral exemplars, not just for the sake of their own flock, but for everyone. Notably, he said that — with earnest sincerity and perfect ease — while actually indulging in his own dark vices.
Ted Haggard could not have said what he said in the way he said it — not if he valued moral honesty. I don’t think that mere repression would allow a person to become so very comfortable with that gross contradiction between his own preached ideals and his own behavior. More would be required to seem so sincere, particularly a positive pleasure in the capacity to deceive anyone and everyone. Any guilt he felt was thoroughly suppressed in public; he assumed a persona of his own creation, based on the expectations of others. And that’s why he was so very charismatic.
When exposed as a moral fraud, the enormous evil of Haggard’s actions probably crashed down on him — at least for a time. I don’t think he just regretting getting caught, as so many criminals do: Haggard wasn’t that kind of deliberate con artist. He was a sincere believer in Christian ideals, at least at one time. However, I’m sure that three weeks of therapy can’t even begin to scratch the surface of his twisted character, meaning that Haggard’s self-excusing and/or self-righteous facade will soon return. A person cannot live in the face of utter moral failure; unless he conceals himself with self-deception, he would be driven to suicide.
I mention the case of Ted Haggard in this post for one simple reason: I suspect that his psychology is fundamentally like that of Nathaniel Branden. Despite the radical differences in the ideals in question, the basic pattern is strikingly similar. If that doesn’t seem plausible to you, then you might wish to read Jim Valliant’s The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics. It’s very revealing, to say the least.