In the United States the president of the National Association of Evangelicals has resigned after denying an accusation he paid a male prostitute for sex over a three-year period.

Reverend Ted Haggard, who is married with five children and been a supporter of banning gay marriage, said in a TV interview he had never met the prostitute in question.

Haggard is one of the most influential Christian leaders in the US and, according to CNN, holds a weekly conference call with White House staffers and other religious leaders.

The National Association of Evangelicals represents more than 45,000 churches and around 30 million members around the US.

I’ve never had a gay relationship with anybody. I’m steady with my wife. I’m faithful to my wife, Haggard told TV news station KUSA-TV.

He said he was stepping down from his position in his church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, pending an internal investigation into the matter by the church.

He said he could not continue to minister under the cloud created by the accusations made on Denver talk radio this morning, CNN reported.

The allegations were made by Mike Jones, who said he was a former prostitute and that Haggard had paid him for sex over a three-year period and also used methamphetamine.

I think I had to do the moral thing in my mind, and that is expose someone who is preaching one thing and doing the opposite behind everybody’s back, Jones, who said he is no longer a prostitute, told KUSA-TV.

Jones said he decided to go public because of Haggard’s support of an amendment to ban gay marriage in Colorado, which will be voted on next week.

It made me angry that here’s someone preaching about gay marriage and going behind the scenes having gay sex, Jones said.

He claimed Haggard visited him for sex around once a month in Denver.

Asked if he had proof, Jones said he kept several voicemail messages from Haggard on his answering machine.

A number of religious leaders have come out in support of Haggard.

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