I felt bad for Ted Haggard after watching the new documentary about him called The Trials of Ted Haggard. His is a pathetic broken man. It is human to feel for others when the are hurting. And the need to feel for Ted came across loudly yet superficially. I do not subscribe to the kick a man while he’s down school of thought. Ted Haggard’s been reduced to delivering door hangers to make a few bucks. I get it. His life is shit. But… I still don’t know why.
I also understand that Haggard has not come clean. He brushed over his drug use and the real nature of his sexuality. When filmmaker Alex Pelosi had a chance to dive deep, she pulled her punches. Her treatment of Haggard was sympathetic and shallows. Her focus limited to his lamentable daily life. The documentary is truly about the shit pie he must eat each day as he goes about trying to put a life back together for himself and his family.
I understand why his mega church turned its back on him, or at least I think I do. To the holy, he is a pariah. They will not forgive him, nor well they let him back into the lucrative church enterprise he founded. His exile is partly to save the church, and partly to punish him for being gay (or whatever he chooses to label himself).
I have a few reasons to dislike Haggard. I was angry for the way he treated Richard Dawkins, and his comments about atheists, but that was small beer. I was deeply upset over how Haggard treated the gay community. It was wrong on so many levels and contributed to the climate of hate that drove issues like Prop 8. His hypocrisy was of the worst sort. He preached something he did not believe because it buttered his bread. Plus, he’s a liar. I have no tolerance for liars. Life is too short.
His church and former friends will not forgive him. The gay community will forever loath him. And atheists will continue to hold him accountable for his lies and hypocrisy. After seeing the documentary, my heart has softened. I’ve tasted shit pie in my life a few times. It is a taste I would not wish on anyone.
Ted Haggard, if you read this please know that in my heart I forgive you for the enormous mistake your life has been up until now, or at least the part of it that I have noticed. Please live honestly going forward. If you do, I won’t write about your old hypocrisy and lies any more.
Honesty starts by telling the truth about what happened. The whole truth. Don’t try to spin it to make yourself look noble or to play the victim. Own what you did and who you are, and then get on with your life. To do so without becoming a media whore would be nice too. But call me a cynic… I know you see dollar signs attached to the media coverage of this documentary and another chance for the limelight. And we already know what you are willing to do for money.
Oh, and one piece of advice. Stop trying to sell stuff. Only a fool would ever buy anything from you. Go buy yourself a pair of work gloves and a shovel. There is plenty of work out there for men who are willing to step up. And nobody will care that you were once famous.
And one last parting thought. I liked the documentary. But I liked it in the strange way one likes a freak show. I could have been much better. It could have been deep and meaningful, and even spiritual. We are at our best (or worst), when tested. It would have been nice to see the best (or worst) of Ted Haggard. I hate to say that I think I could have done a better job, but I think I could have done a better job.