Hey everyone, this is Ron Gold from The Invisible Pink Unicorn blog. Hemant has graciously invited me to do some guest posts. It’s a pleasure to be writing here.
I just saw the new HBO documentary The Trials of Ted Haggard – it follows the former evangelical megachurch pastor’s life after he was exiled for having trysts with a methamphetamine peddling gay prostitute – and I have to say it changed my opinion of him. Before his downfall, I loathed Haggard for his homophobic and socially conservative viewpoints. However, what bothered me most was the extreme smarminess that he conducted himself with, exemplified in the movie Jesus Camp. So when he was caught in an embarrassing scandal, I celebrated, feeling that a hypocrite was getting what he deserved.
But in The Trials of Ted Haggard, we see that the once proud pastor is now a self-described loser who struggles to provide for his family. He is seen failing as an insurance salesman and unhappily drifting between motels and apartments. The church he had founded has turned its back on him, and you can’t help but feel badly for the man.
For most of his life, Haggard owed a great deal of his success to his evangelicalism. He seemingly thrived in the evangelical world, and became widely admired and influential among his many followers.
But after seeing his documentary, I have to wonder if he isn’t really a victim of evangelicalism. From a young age, his religious beliefs taught his that it was not okay to be gay. Many of us have seen cases where sexually confused youths embrace religion, hoping it will turn them into good heterosexuals, though they are destined to fail. I would not be surprised if this were also the case with Ted Haggard.
I feel if he had never become an evangelical, there is a good chance he would have accepted his homosexuality, and never would have felt compelled to live a lie to the point where he resorted to hiring a male prostitute. I’ll probably never like Haggard, but he doesn’t deserve to live in the personal hell that is depicted in the movie.