Ted Haggard’s Re-Gifting: Documentary on Disgraced Pastor to Air on HBO in January

The Trials of Ted Haggard

In the midst of the controversy over Pastor Rick Warren delivering the invocation at the inauguration of President Barack Obama, the death of Paul Weyrich, the “Godfather” of the modern conservative movement, the torching of Sarah Palin’s Wasilla Bible Church, and the removal of Richard Cizik from his leadership post with the National Association of Evangelicals, comes this piece of news to brighten or, at the least, lighten up your day.

Are you ready?

According to the Associated Press, “The Trials of Ted Haggard,” directed by Alexandra Pelosi, daughter of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is set to air Jan. 29 on HBO. AP also reported that Haggard has agreed to promote the documentary.

Since Haggard’s story includes drugs and sex — I’m not sure how much rock n roll — think of the possibilities!

After all, it’s not television, my friends. It’s HBO.

Drugs and sex? Yes. Rock n Roll? Not so Much.

Haggard, resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals and was fired as senior pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs in November 2006 after a former male prostitute went public with allegations that Haggard paid him for sex and used methamphetamine.

He has said that while he bought the drugs, he never used them. And while he also bought the sex, he apparently participated in that transaction. According to the AP, Haggard “confessed to undisclosed ‘sexual immorality’ and has said, ‘I really did sin.'”

“The reason I kept my personal struggle a secret is because I feared that my friends would reject me, abandon me and kick me out, and the church would exile and excommunicate me. And that happened and more,” he says.

After getting tossed from his Colorado church, Haggard and his family moved to Arizona and then Texas. AP reported that he “He re-emerged last month at a rural Illinois church, where he delivered guest sermons and said he was sexually abused as a second-grader.”

The Colorado Independent’s Cara DeGette reported that Pelosi “first hooked up with Haggard when she was filming a documentary, ‘Friends of God,’ about Christian evangelicals in 2006 — before Haggard’s trysts with gay escort Mike Jones forced him out of the church that he had founded.”

DeGette pointed out that “one particularly tittilating exchange captured on film in ‘Friends of God,'” had Haggard “talk[ing] about having the best sex ever.”

“‘You know all the surveys say that evangelicals have the best sex life of any other group,’ Haggard says on camera, grinning from ear to ear.”

“Haggard then asks a church guy next to him how often he has sex with his wife. The man replies, ‘Every day.’ Pastor Ted goes on to note that evangelicals have a lot of love. ‘You don’t think these babies come out of nowhere?'”

Haggard now sells insurance and, in the documentary, says he isn’t successful.

“At this stage in my life, I am a loser,” he says.

In a post at sliceoflaodicea — “news and commentary on the contemporary church” — Ingrid Schlueter pointed out that it is expected that a tell all (or tell some) book might follow the documentary.

“After the book comes out,” Schlueter cheekily wrote, “there will be appearances on every major talk show in the country, probably including Oprah. After that, Ted can leverage his comeback fame, stop selling insurance and start hosting seminars and workshops entitled, ‘Comeback-the Haggard Method.'”

Schlueter continued: “There is something inherently repellent about a fallen pastor making money off his deceitful and immoral conduct with a sordid movie. Ted dropped out of accountability and counseling sessions set up by several Christian leaders and against all counsel, has already made an appearance at a church as speaker. He wants a church again, big time. In the meantime, as he rebuilds his following, HBO will help pay the bills.”

Is there a Colson-like redemption down the road?

Bill Berkowitz is a longtime observer of the conservative movement. His column, "Conservative Watch," documents the strategies, players, institutions, victories and defeats of the American Right. Read other articles by Bill, or visit Bill's website.

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  1. Jason Oberg said on December 21st, 2008 at 12:10am #

    All I can say is, none of this, from the film to the pastor on crack to Pelosi’s daughter directing the damn thing, is the least bit surprising. What—religious people exhibiting aberrant behavior? You’re kidding! Certainly news to me.I think I’ll pass on catching this program. I’m scheduled to watch the linoleum peel that night.