Ted Haggard is senior pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs and president of the National Association of Evangelicals. The author of several books, Haggard's most recent isFoolish No More!: Seizing a Life Beyond Belief, in which he takes a new look at Paul's epistle to the Galatians.

Foolish No More!: Seizing a Life Beyond Belief
by Ted Haggard
Random House, 2005 224 pp.; $16.99

Why did you decide Galatians is something you wanted published right now?

This book reflects the crisis that America is in right now. Right now it's trying to decide what to do about the law, and how to use the law to encourage people to be more moral or whether the law should ever be used to encourage people to be more moral—or example, the Lawrence decision that outlawed anti-sodomy laws across the country.

That was the discussion of Galatians, whether or not the law can be used to help people be better people. I don't want to take a purely spiritual argument and try to impose it on civil law, but I do think Christians have to wrestle with it, because the easiest way for us to appease our own conscience is to pass a civil law. That is the argument of the Judaizers when they came from Jerusalem and said to the church at Galatia that they needed to have higher standards. The apostle Paul shot back, and he said, "No, these are Gentiles that have been saved; they don't live according to the same standards as the Jews that have been saved."

As a church pastor and the head of the NAE, where do you come down on it?

I think some issues should have rules within the church. For instance, we believe within the church that sexuality should be only between a married man and a woman. But in civil law, I would never want that inculcated.

There are many things that I teach in the church that I would never want integrated into civil law.

Do you think there's a need for the Federal Marriage Amendment?

Yes. And the reason we need the Federal Marriage Amendment is for the sake of children. All the research shows that children have the greatest opportunity to be successful in life if they're raised by their biological parents. And so my argument for the Federal Marriage Amendment is not a biblical argument.

The biblical argument could be made, but not in this particular case. In Washington, D.C., our argument has to be the fact that the greatest benefit to society and to our culture and to the children of our nation would be to instill in our Constitution that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. It would be devastating for the children of our nation and for the future of Western civilization for us to say that homosexual unions or lesbian unions or any alteration of that has the moral equivalence of a heterosexual, monogamous marriage.

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So that needs to be inculcated into the Constitution, otherwise we run the risk of a Supreme Court decision that will say that a gay couple living together and a heterosexual couple living together have the same standing under the law.

What are some other issues that you would teach in church but shouldn't be made the law of the land?

I think one of them probably is the Lawrence decision. Two consenting adults in a bedroom is not really the role of the state. All over the country, these sodomy laws had not been enforced for many years. So, even though I don't believe in activist judges, and I wish that would have been corrected in the legislature, I think that was probably a good decision.

On the other hand, something that I teach in church that should be made into law is the fact that a fetus is a human being. Since a fetus is a human being, that human being should have state protection. I don't think that should be a random choice by a mother. The human being inside the mother should be protected just like the mother is protected.

So, if you can make a case for something outside of a strictly biblical argument, then you would support a law on that case?

Yes. We are in a pluralistic society. It is a secular society, but it is not an atheistic society. An atheistic society means that you can't use any biblical arguments at all. A secular society means that you can use biblical arguments, but you also have to have a compelling reason for the state to impose those values on people that don't believe the Bible. You can't just randomly say, since it's in the Bible, then it applies to everybody. Christ doesn't even do that. He lets people choose whether or not they respond to the wooing of his grace (I'm an Arminian).

Where do you stand on the Supreme Court nominations?

The NAE does not have an official position, but I've had correspondence with several of the senators that have written to my personal e-mail address, saying how do you want to manage this Supreme Court thing? At first, I was going to give them my list of what I would really like to see, a strict constructionist, somebody that has a much higher view of the Constitution than Sandra Day O'Connor did. But then I decided that maybe the NAE doesn't need to be saying that. Maybe what we need to be saying is that we want order. We want the hearings and the debate and the vote. I said, we don't want a filibuster, and we don't want disrespect. We want the Senate to rise to its highest dignity level and ask the appropriate questions and then let the senators vote.

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Where is the NAE on environmental issues?

We've released a document, "For the Health of the Nation," that talks about environmental issues. And we hold that, along with several other items, as very important issues for evangelicals. Our position on environmentalism is that God created the heavens and the earth, we are human beings made in the image and likeness of God, and we have domination, control over the earth right now. That makes us responsible for it.

We think there needs to be a strong environmental voice that believes that human beings are superior to animals and that human beings are not animals. We are the image and likeness of God on the earth. We are his representatives. We're salt and light. We are the church. So because of it, we can eat cows and chickens, and we can swat mosquitoes with no guilt. But we also have a responsibility to endangered species and to the forests and to the oceans to make sure that we are stewards of the earth.

So, how have the environmentalist groups taken to what you say?

We don't respond to them. They've all tried to reach us and communicate with us, but we are so diametrically opposed to some of the traditional environmentalist philosophies that we don't return their phone calls, because we think this should be an evangelical Christian issue. We think the environmental solutions should come from our philosophy of human responsibility and dignity, because we're in the image and likeness of God, rather than we're a fellow animal in the animal kingdom.

We think that our approach is a pro-business, pro-free market approach to environmental problems, where their approach is typically anti-business and anti-free market. Their solutions will never work. It's going to require our approach to improve some of our environmental problems. I think our strategy is better. Our strategy is more thoughtful.

Ultimately, since God created it all and God is sovereign and God will judge it all in the end, it's only God-type solutions that will work. All the other attempted solutions that various human beings will try will fail.

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You're using biblically-based arguments to say we should protect the environment. Should Christians impose that reasoning on the rest of society?

There's nothing wrong with the biblically based argument as long as there's also a compelling state interest for people who don't believe in the Bible. The environment is everybody's concern. Everybody breathes the same air, everybody swims in the same ocean, everybody drinks out of the same water. Right now all we're doing is heightening the awareness among evangelicals that it's okay to be like me. I am a white, heterosexual, conservative Republican evangelical, and I am an environmentalist. And that needs to be okay. But in some circles, they would assume a white, heterosexual, conservative Republican evangelical can't possibly be an environmentalist. That's the switch we want to make.

Are you pro-business and conservative out of pragmatism or out of theological conviction?

I am pro-business and pro-free market because we have 6.4 billion people on the face of the earth, and that is the only way we're going to be able to create enough wealth, provide enough goods and services and meet the needs of enough poor people.

It's a pragmatic approach. We have a responsibility to the poor and needy. There is no way we can give enough cans of peas and give away enough toys at Christmas time to meet everybody's need. We have to stimulate wealth. We know from the 20th century which government policies and economic policies create poverty and which government and economic policies create wealth. And so, all we have to do is apply those.

In my recent discussions with Prime Minister Tony Blair, we had an in-depth discussion about how the West can implement policies in poverty-stricken areas like portions of Africa, so they can start creating wealth. Hong Kong and South Korea and Singapore and Australia and New Zealand and the United States are not wealthy countries because we took wealth from somebody else. We're wealthy countries because we learned how to create wealth. And so, we want that exported all over the world, and I think Christians should be pro-free market and pro-free trade because we have an obligation to help poor people have their needs met.

What are you trying to accomplish at NAE?

We're trying to broaden the umbrella. NAE is the largest evangelical group in America already. We just had a huge group of Hispanic evangelicals join, and right now we're working with a lot of African American evangelicals to join. And so what we're trying to do is increase the representative voice of evangelicalism and demonstrate the unity there is in the body.