|Disgraced Pastor Promoting Documentary
By Eric Gorski
The Kansas City Star
December 18, 2008
Disgraced evangelical leader Ted Haggard has agreed to help promote a new documentary following his life in exile after a 2006 sex scandal - no longer bound by an agreement with his former church that prohibited him from talking publicly about the events that led to his downfall.
"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.
Haggard's latest return to the public eye comes after 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.
Haggard, 52, resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals and was fired as senior pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., in November 2006 after a former male prostitute went public with allegations that Haggard paid him for sex and used methamphetamine.
A married father of five, Haggard said he bought the drugs but never used them. He confessed to undisclosed "sexual immorality" and has said, "I really did sin."
In February, New Life Church announced that Haggard prematurely ended a "restoration" process designed to help him heal.
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 was not excommunicated, but rather dismissed as pastor by a church oversight board. Under a severance deal with New Life Church, Haggard agreed to leave Colorado Springs and not talk about the scandal publicly, church officials said. He received a year's salary, or about $130,000.
The deal expired at the end of 2007, which allowed Haggard to move his family back to their Colorado Springs home, the church's new pastor, Brady Boyd, said earlier this year. But Haggard continued to tell reporters last summer and again this fall that he was forbidden to talk to the press.
Boyd said Wednesday that church leadership decided in the last few weeks to release Haggard and his wife, Gayle, from any legal obligations. He said they can do as they wish, including promote the documentary.
"They are not acting outside any parameters we set for them," said Boyd, who recently met with Haggard. "We want them to be free to move forward with their lives the way New Life has really moved forward."
Haggard moved his family to Arizona after the scandal, and also lived in Texas. He is now selling insurance. At the Illinois church last month, he was introduced as a "Christian businessman," hinting at a possible future speaking to churches and organizations about his experiences.
His public return was criticized as premature by a former counselor and church members who think his sins cost him any public role, but allies say Haggard has a gift and calling that cannot be suppressed.
Haggard was prominently featured in the 2007 HBO documentary "Friends of God: A Road Trip with Alexandra Pelosi," which was filmed before the scandal.
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