The Rant 

Some weeks are better than others for those of us who write a column. A couple weeks ago, we hit the mother lode. First, we had the astro-nut in the diaper who drove 900 miles to confront her love rival. Then we had Anna Nicole Smith's tragedy. Since I have recently filed an application, along with 38 others, saying that I am her baby daddy, my attorneys have advised me not to write on the matter. Then, finally, we had Reverend Ted Haggard's revelations.

Recently I wrote about Haggard's admission of a three-year relationship with a male prostitute (while buying crystal meth with church funds) in a column entitled "Ministers Do More Than Laypeople." Now, as a follow-up to that groundbreaking and award-eligible column, it is my journalistic duty to tell you that all things worked out in the end for Reverend Ted.

After three weeks of intensive counseling with a team of pastors who oversaw his "restoration," Haggard has proclaimed that he is now "completely heterosexual." Yes, meth and male-hooker enthusiasts, Reverend Ted is now all fixed.

Steady yourself.

I think what they are saying is that there is now not a gay bone in his body -- at least not for the past few weeks. The clergy tells us that Haggard had an isolated three-year incident and will no longer get his gay on.

It is my hope, given this success, that those amazing pastors who worked on this "restoration" project turn their ample skills next to Richard Simmons or Little Richard. Get Simmons out of those pink candy-striped short-shorts and into squirrel hunting, then you got something.

The pastors maintain that they have only a 30 percent recidivism rate once they work their magic on a gay man. I researched the faith-based, gay-gene-reversal data and found scientific studies that show that not only are 30 percent still gay after treatment, the other 70 percent are too.

I do wonder, however, just how they restored Reverend Ted? I can only surmise that on his final exam day (for which I hope he did not cram), he appeared before the other ministers and was asked a series of questions: Name Liza Minnelli's last three husbands and the names of this year's Tony and Oscar nominees. If he didn't know the answers, he passed. Perhaps, they suddenly piped in some ABBA music from the Broadway hit Mamma Mia!. He was probably allowed to tap his toe to the music, but dancing, and certainly jazz hands, would be strictly forbidden.

Sadly, we win some and we lose some. Just when we were celebrating the news that Haggard had taken the cure for gay, NBA basketball veteran John Amaechi revealed his homosexuality. Amaechi, a center who played for four different NBA teams, made the courageous announcement on the coincidental publication of his new book. Yet it came as no surprise to some. Many in the NBA had long been suspicious of his sexual orientation since he had no illegitimate children.

In conclusion, I want to say just how much all this nonsense surrounding the Reverend Ted affair sets back the cause of legitimate religion. When flaky ministers seek to perform self-aggrandizing acts that defy logic, science, and nature, it repels many empirical-thinking folks from the church. The services provided by ministers less given to grandstanding -- those who feed the hungry and selflessly work in our communities -- represent religion's true values. These snake-handling mega-church hypocrites, like Reverend Ted and his ilk, on the other hand, must just think we're stupid. Ron Hart is a columnist and investor in Atlanta. He worked for Goldman Sachs and was appointed to the Tennessee Board of Regents by Lamar Alexander. His e-mail: RevRon10@aol.com.

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