In an HBO documentary set to air Jan. 29, disgraced evangelical leader Ted Haggard says he never claimed to be heterosexual, as was once reported, and he continues to struggle with same-sex attraction. But he’s committed to living a heterosexual life because he believes it’s better for children to be raised by a mother and a father.
In “The Trials of Ted Haggard,” a film crew documents his and his family’s day-to-day life in Arizona and Texas, where they lived after he was fired from New Life Church in November 2006 following a sexual relationship with a gay prostitute. Along the way, Haggard opens up about his lifelong battle with his sexuality and how he’s drawn to the biblical passages about suffering since his relationship with prostitute Mike Jones became public.
Haggard, a 52-year-old father of five, careens from self-pity to self-loathing to self-aggrandizement in the documentary. Anger about his dismissal from the church he founded bubbles just below the surface.
“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.
He also criticizes New Life’s handling of his firing. “The church has said go to hell,” Haggard says in the documentary. “The church chose not to forgive me.”
Two of Haggard’s children show up in the documentary, as does his wife, Gayle, who talks about why she stayed with her husband after the scandal.
“I know to restore the honor to our children is to help restore honor to their father,” she says.
A spokesperson for HBO Media Relations said Wednesday that Haggard did not ask HBO to make the film and doesn’t know if Haggard was paid.
Haggard will be part of an HBO press conference on the film Jan. 9 in Los Angeles, the HBO spokesperson said.
To read a review of “The Trials of Ted Haggard,” go to “The Pulpit” blog at gazette.com.
Haggard’s plans still unclear, but one thing’s sure: He’s back, The Gazette.
Haggard, 52, resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals and was fired as senior pastor of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in November 2006 after a former male prostitute went public with allegations that Haggard paid him for sex and used methamphetamine.
Haggard, a married father of five, said he bought the drugs but never used them. He confessed to undisclosed “sexual immorality” and has said, “I really did sin.”
Neither Pelosi nor Haggard responded to requests for comment on the documentary, which is scheduled to first air Jan. 29. However, a Web site for a Toronto-based entertainment company that promotes HBO and other television projects describes it as “a behind-scenes-look at the rise and fall of Pastor Ted Haggard.”
The 41-minute documentary “follows Haggard and his family as they move from houses to motels as the excommunicated pastor tries to redeem himself and support his loved ones,” it says.
Haggard moved his family to Arizona after the scandal, and also lived in Texas. He is now selling insurance.
Haggard was prominently featured in the 2007 HBO documentary “Friends of God: A Road Trip with Alexandra Pelosi,” which was filmed before the scandal.