By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country
I'm surprised this story didn't get more attention last week. Ted Haggard, the Colorado megachurch pastor and National Association of Evangelicals president who left both positions after a former male prostitute said he'd engaged in drug-fueled trysts with him, is the subject of a new documentary about his postscandal experiences and has signed on to promote the film.
"The Trials of Ted Haggard," directed by Alexandra Pelosi, daughter of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is set to air next month on HBO. Haggard has agreed to take part in publicity for the project, HBO said.
"We look forward to presenting the film, Ted Haggard and his family at a press tour in Los Angeles next month," a spokeswoman for the cable network said Wednesday.
This isn't the first time Pelosi and Haggard have worked together on a project. He appeared in her 2007 HBO documentary Friends of God: A Road Trip with Alexandra Pelosi, shot before the allegations against Haggard surfaced and released shortly after.
I happened to be in Colorado Springs, Colo., reporting on both Focus and the Family—James Dobson's huge parachurch ministry that is headquartered there—and on Haggard and his New Life Church when Pelosi was filming Friends of God in fall 2005. Pelosi's presence was just one sign of Haggard's growing celebrity. It was impossible for me to book an in-person interview with Haggard because, in addition to spending time with Pelosi, he was spending time in Denver for a photo shoot for the cover of Christianity Today. Someone at New Life told me that the church was waiting to hear from NBC about the schedule for airing an hourlong special about the church and Haggard that Tom Brokaw had traveled to Colorado Springs to tape.
Haggard was a hot commodity. And his church—and much of the wider evangelical world—was proud. Haggard was an attractive and articulate spokesman whose tone was more Rick Warren then James Dobson.
That's one reason I'm so eager to see how New Life and the broader evangelical community will greet The Trials of Ted Haggard. Will it be seen mostly as shameful self-promoting on Haggard's part, especially given that the liberal Pelosi's Friends of God was considered by many evangelicals to be a condescending portrait of born-again Christians meant to entertain elite liberal audiences? Or will Haggard be seen to have redeemed himself through his exile and participation in "spiritual restoration"?
Hat tip to Get Religion.
- Read more by Dan Gilgoff.