City Desk

Ted Haggard Comes Clean About Man-Love

In light of Barack Obama's decision to include Bishop Robinson in the Inauguration, as well as Dan Savage's quest to come up with a sex definition for "Saddlebacking", I thought I'd post a little update on Ted Haggard, the gay-bashing pastor who resigned from his church in 2006 after he was caught trading meth for man-love. The news comes courtesy of Andy Dehnart, a television critic and the founder and editor of Realityblurred.com, who spent last weekend in Los Angeles at a press conference for television journalists:

"You can call me Ted. I sell life insurance, if you need some." That's Ted Haggard, the former evangelical preacher who was fired and/or resigned from his posts after having an affair with a male prostitute and buying meth, talking to TV critics Friday here in Los Angeles.

Haggard and his family were promoting Alexandra Pelosi's 45-minute HBO documentary "The Trials of Ted Haggard," which debuts Jan. 29. "Now that we've got the freedom to answer questions, we want to answer questions," he said. Pelosi, daughter of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, revealed that "Ted had an agreement with the church that he would not tell his story, and he was recently released from that."

As to his "trials," the life insurance salesman and former National Association of Evangelicals president said, "I now know more about hatred than I've ever dreamed. And I know it doesn't help. And I know about judgment, and I know it doesn't help."

Haggard said "I made the wrong decision" and that "my hope was always that I could deal with my issue on my own," he's "grateful now for [gay escort] Mike [Jones]'s decision to expose that, and I'm grateful for my family's decision to be faithful to me when I wasn't faithful to them." His wife, Gayle, told critics that "our marriage was strong and is stronger now because of the honesty and the transparency and our ability to communicate about these things."

As to the drugs, Haggard said, "I'm not sure what I bought. And it conflicted me. It was, I love it; I hate it. I don't really know what to do with this." But he said he's convinced that "without this scandal, I had the potential of becoming dependent and increasingly compulsive, and probably really ruining my life. I certainly lost my career and my reputation."

While Ted called his behavior "hypocrisy," he sidestepped repeated questions about sexual orientation, including his own. "I think sexuality is confusing and complex," he said, vaguely referencing the "very positive, constructive process" he's going through, adding later, "I am thoroughly and completely satisfied with my relationship with my wife." He also insisted that "all people are in equally desperate need of redemption, love, inspiration, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, those things. We are in a world that's short on love and high on hatred and judgment, and I've gotten it from every side. I get it from the religious side as well as the unreligious side, and I just think we can all improve."

Haggard's daughter Christy — who appeared in front of critics along with her brother, Marcus –was more direct. While she said "there was a lot of misrepresentation which resulted in a lot of confusion, a lot of unnecessary hatred towards our family," she said later, "We were more judgmental than we are now, and people were hurt by us. And I know that a lot of people deserve a very sincere apology from our family because we are all the way we are for a reason."

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  • Dave

    This is extremely pedantic, but I think saying that Ted Haggard traded meth for man-love is inaccurate. Didn't he purchase both meth and man-love? That doesn't sound like a trade; it sounds like an acquisition.

  • http://washingtoncitypaper.com Mike Riggs

    @Dave: I thought he bartered for booty, but I'll check out the NYT archives and make any necessary corrections.

  • mike jones

    Why don't you read my book "I Had to Say Something" by Mike Jones then you can write the facts of the story correctly.

  • Rej Knight

    I feel rather sorry for Ted Haggard. Our society makes it VERY difficult for white males to even QUESTION their sexuality. That's because there is an ENORMOUS advantage given to straight white males in our society. They don't have to do anything to get it, that's simply the way it is. People of color, women and other minorities KNOW from a very early age that there is NOTHING they can do to overcome this advantage. Conversely, straight white males also know they HAVE this advantage and coming out of the closet puts them, for the first time, in a less advantagous position. Many of them are unable to contemplate losing that advantage and so we get situations like this.
    I am willing to take Haggard at his word, but I also know that the human mind is able to commit amazing twists and turns of illogic in order to believe something it wants.
    One of two things will happen to Ted Haggard, he will either continue to fool himself into believing he's 'cured' or whatever, but he will start to experience growing dissatisfaction in other aspects of his life. He will end up being unhappy about a great many things and won't be able to admit to himself why. Or he will tackle and examine his sexuality, come to an honest answer -- which HAS to include the possibility that he is gay -- and then deal with THAT reality.
    If that happens, in the short run, it will be painful, but not nearly as destructive as living a lie.

  • Robert

    As a gay Christian, I struggled with the issue of being "gay" for years. My first solution was "don't ask, don't tell"...but hiding in the closet did not work. My straight roommate found out by going in my room and when he found a gay magazine, he threw it away...not cool.

    But my real life-changing experience came when I read "The Blind Watchmaker" by Richard Dawkins. It explained why the "monkeys banging away on typewriters" was just nonsense; that evolution is not only possible and likely, but inevitable: the theory of cumulative evolution. I was able to admit that Christianity is a child's fairy tale...the REAL truth.

    Finally, I met this gay person in a wheelchair...I couldn't understand why someone that could not have sex would bother to let people know he was gay. But it inspired me not to hide any more. If Christianity was an unscientific fairy tale, then the condemnation of homosexuality as "wrong" is part of the fairy tale as well.

    I still attend church. I am still somewhat in the closet. But I have accepted that for most, the painful reality...that there is no God and no Heaven and when we die, we cease to exist...is too painful for most to admit. Christianity is a drug. I have come to realize that religion is a crutch; they NEED it because it helps them avoid having to face the ugly truth, and that is death. So I have come full circle. I now empathize with them. And I am inspired by the words of Jesus the philosopher: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

  • stefanie

    The point is he was a minister. He was a hypocrite. He made people feel guilty and bad about who they were every Sunday, but he lived his own life filled with lusts. He is not better than anyone else, but was put on a pedestool as a pastor, dangled in front of people as some great thing.
    I don't care who he slept with, or even if he did drugs. His life, his decision, but don't do it as a minister, espousing biblical things and do and don'ts when your own life doesn't follow what you preach.
    I think a lot of churches big and small have hypocrites as leaders.

  • Jo Marks

    Ted Haggard...A hypocrite...A lier...A wolf in sheep's clothing(the bible warns about people like him).Ted Haggard did the very thing he preached against-how low can a person go?Judgment is far worse for people like him.A person can live the life they want but don't pretend to be a great man and condemn others for the very same thing you are doing.This is a perfect example of why I don't go to church.However:I do believe in God---not man.

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