Progressive Revival

HBO will be airing a new documentary about Ted Haggard, the evangelical pastor and former President of the National Association of Evangelicals who fell from prominance when it was discovered that he was having extra-marital gay sex with a male prostitute. The documentary The Trials of Ted Haggard, by Alexandra Pelosi has sparked a lot of comment as Haggard has made the rounds on the talk shows.  

Beliefnet blogger Patton Dodd, who worked with Haggard offers a heartfelt and compassionate reflection on the man and wonders why he would put himself through a documentary.  

I was hoping–against hope–that “The Trials of Ted Haggard” would document his walking into the light. It doesn’t. It captures his attempt to re-enter the limelight. It’s agonizing to watch Haggard gather the pieces of his life, shuffle from temporary home to temporary home, and learn how to make an honest buck. It’s terrible to watch him suffer. But what’s most painful is the question the documentary doesn’t ask: Why? Why, just a few months after Haggard and his family suffered an unspeakable tragedy in public view, would he invite the cameras back? Why would he want his story documented and sold in this way?

Joan Garry breaks down the truth on her post ending with this critical note on Haggard, and ultimately on anti-gay rhetoric from religious leaders.

4) Ted is part of the problem. I beg of you. Watch this documentary with a critical eye. Beware of sympathetic homophobes. He is promoting this film (which I have not yet seen) because it no doubt tells the sad tale of Haggard’s journey. Please remember: he abused his power in the evangelical church and was dismissed. Sounds about right to me. Please remember: when he sympathetically talks about selling life insurance now, remember he should feel lucky he has a job. And please remember: his anti-gay rhetoric has been fanning the flames of prejudice and discrimination against gay and lesbian people for years. His sermons give permission – for name calling and gay jokes at the water cooler. Then it ramps up. Employment discrimination, violence. But it all starts with the words of people in positions of power, often those with pulpits.

Finally, Sam Greenfield hopes that Haggard will be the first convincing gay evangelical preacher

One day Haggard may become a transcendent force. One day he may be the first gay evangelical minister. One day those of his faith may come forward and open the closet door and find peace. I wish all this for him.

I wonder.  Two other people who were married and are now major gay religious figures come to mind – Mel White, and Gene Robinson.  But neigher of them was famous until after they came out.   Rev. Haggard has a harder road.  Pray for him.   

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus