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Ted Haggard Is Back: Gay Sex, Drug Scandal Can't Keep Evangelical Leader Down

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Christianity is all about second acts, and disgraced evangelical leader Ted Haggard is the latest conservative Christian to exploit that role to the hilt.

Haggard announced Wednesday that he is starting a new church in the same town -- Colorado Springs -- that he left in humiliation in 2006 following a gay sex and drugs scandal. And he says this church will be for people like himself, "a church for sinners -- for people who have hit rock bottom and people who want to help people who have hit rock bottom. ... It is not a gathering for the righteous, except those who are righteous by faith."

"Everybody is welcome: Democrats, Republican, independents, gays, straights, tall, short, addicts and recovering addicts," Haggard said at a news conference at his home, flanked by his wife, Gayle, and facing an array of camera and television crews, much as he used to do as a Christian power broker for years and then as the center of a media maelstrom.

"I think I am qualified to hold their hand," he said, according to The Denver Post account.

Gayle Haggard will also be preaching at the church, called St. James, which will operate on the grounds of their home, which is how they started New Life Church in Colorado Springs three decades ago. That home church grew into a megachurch with a membership of some 14,000, and served as a platform for Haggard, who became head of the National Association of Evangelicals, and one of the nation's most prominent Christian crusaders for conservative values.

But his 2006 campaign against a gay marriage initiative prompted a male prostitute to announce that he and Haggard had hooked up a number of times and also used meth. Haggard and his family dropped out of sight for two years -- he now says he is "a heterosexual with issues" -- and then gradually returned to preaching at churches around the country.

Last November the Haggards held two prayer meetings at their home in Colorado Springs, drawing more than 100 people each time to their living room. Subsequent assemblies were held in the barn on their property.

Ted HaggardOn April 29, Haggard and his wife incorporated a new church, called St. James, at their home address. Haggard insisted it was for accounting purposes -- in January, Gayle released a memoir, "Why I Stayed," and is also a sought-after speaker. But he also told The Colorado Springs Gazette that he could see St. James becoming another full-scale church with membership roll and choir.

"Sometime, somewhere we will do some type of ministry," Haggard said.

It turns out that sometime is now, and the type of ministry is much as he did before, and in much the same place. The name of the church, Haggard says, connects to the Epistle of St. James in the New Testament, and the famous passage that "faith without works is dead."

For an evangelical leader who was know as one of the bigger scolds in American Christianity, yet was found to have feet of clay, the Bible passage could resonate -- or fall flat.

"Locally it is being called 'Second Church of the Hypocrite'." a commenter at the Christianity Today website wrote when news of the incorporation broke in April.

Just as problematic could be the reaction of the leadership of Haggard's neighbors at the New Life megachurch he founded.

Haggard's scandal devastated and infuriated many in the church, which has suffered a drop in membership and donations. Haggard and New Life negotiated a severance package stipulating that Haggard would undergo counseling with a team of Christian leaders they appointed and that he would leave the area and not start a rival church.

But Haggard left the counseling arrangement before New Life said he was done, and they barred him from a future ministerial role there. Haggard was at one time reportedly selling insurance as he worked toward a degree in counseling, and he also began asking the public for donations to support him and his family.

In June 2008, when the conditions of the severance package expired, Haggard and his family moved back to Colorado Springs.

Last year the couple launched what some call a "repentance tour," appearing on Oprah Winfrey's show, with Larry King, and on Good Morning America and other national broadcasts -- even "Divorce Court."

Haggard also appeared in an HBO documentary about the scandal titled "The Trials of Ted Haggard," by Alexandra Pelosi, daughter of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Ted Haggard also announced Wednesday that he's being filmed by a documentary crew from Los Angeles for another show about -- Ted Haggard.

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hlloona

Ted,
In essence you are calling God a hater, you received proper scriptual treatment/judgement for your actions per your brother’s in Christ.
PS-You are deceived beyond measure to think you are “starting a new church”, Ted, there is only ONE CHURCH, it’s His and He’s building it. Matthew 16:18

I COR 5:9 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people;
10 I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world.
11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler–not even to eat with such a one.
12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church?
13 But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.

January 29 2011 at 1:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
wfarmerjr

As a recovering addict with 22 years clean, I am thankful that second chances are possible. It is only after I hit bottom and nearly lost everything, that I surrender to God and began the long road back to be human. I am a Christian but find it difficult to be member of church, although I do visit them on occcassion. Not all, but most churches I have come in contact with kill their wounded. I believe Ted will be a better pastor now that his ego has been checked and has learned true humility.

December 20 2010 at 11:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
minister4jc

This is what happens when men are exalted over the gospel of Christ. God, through Paul, rebuked the Corinthians for exalting men and boasting in their elocution and lofty speech. If professing Christians would boast only in the Lord and stop putting these fallible, sin-prone men in pedestals, half the battle would be won. The other half would to start living as Jesus did, starting with the leaders. And stop making excuses.... the grace of God leads us to say "No!" to ungodliness... see Titus 2:11-12

December 09 2010 at 12:49 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
normbirch

Blessings and strength for Ted Haggard and his wife as they start this new church. Remember it was Peter who after three years with Jesus denied even knowing Christ; Jesus not only forgave him... but used him as a rock to build HIS church. Let's never forget - it's HIS church, not ours. We're all sinners saved by grace. nb 9-22-10

September 22 2010 at 6:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
xxo1984

I would say with much confidence, that Most Evangelicals never heard of Ted Haggard before his "fall",
but "Thanks", David, for consistently attempting to make Ted the Poster Boy for Evangelical Christians.

And btw, Mr Gibson, do you happen to be Jewish?

I assume that you are.. but despite you, I still support the Jews and the Jewish State of Israel.

June 10 2010 at 6:38 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
crvos

I'm an Evangelical Christian but Ted Haggard is no leader of mine!
Ted may be a forgiven man but he has forfeited his right to leadership by his sinful actions.

June 09 2010 at 5:12 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
BLUEWHITEMARBLE

evil resides within and manifest itself among ourselves. no one is clean of it. do your part and obey and follow God not humsn beings.

June 09 2010 at 4:29 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Rhonda

I don't think he's a hypocrite at all. I think he has figured out that he is as much a sinner as the rest of us, and he is trying to give the people no one else wants a place to go to learn about Jesus. My husband lived 10 years of his life as a gay man, and he changed with God's help. BUT I believe Jesus loves all of us just as we are, gay people included. Have any of you ever thought about how difficult it is for a gay couple to find a place to go to church? I have a lot of gay friends, and some of them are more conservative than me! Anything that helps people from different walks of life to come together in understanding who Jesus is, has my support.

June 09 2010 at 3:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
chirho33

The only validity that Mr. Haggard could have possibly gained by doing this would be to repudiate the interpretations of the Bible that have poisoned the well of Christian faith (and all of the Abrahamic faiths) with their erroneous translations of what the Bible indeed says about same-sex love--which is NOTHING! One can only challenge the Christian believer to give the chapter(s) and verse(s) that might show Christ's condemnation of same-sex love. They will be unable to do so simply because there are none. As for the Old Testament's alleged condemnations of same-sex love, there are none. Yes, some will always point out the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, but the Bible is unclear (at least in most English translations as to what actually transpired) and the Bible itself clearly implies that the "sin" of Sodom was inhospitality to the stranger. More appalling is that Lot offered his daughters to be abused and tortured as a plea to spare Lot's guests the indignations of inhospitable and unruly behavior by some of Sodom's clamoring citizenry. One always must point out that the alleged condemnations of Levitican law are really admonitions against ritual impurity and even then, if one translates the passages honestly without bias, one does not even come close to a declaration that same-sex love is condemned by God. Some will point to the alleged letters of St. Paul ("alleged" meaning that is is an accepted fact by conservative, moderate and liberal theologians that possibly less than half of those New Testaments letters can actually be attributed to the same person, let alone a person named "Saul/Paul") and declare that, after the fact, Jesus condemns same-sex love (or even lust). It is somewhat like Jesus is saying: "Well, you know, I was SO busy healing and teaching that I forgot to mention one, very important thing and so without further adieu here is Saul/Paul to clear things up for ya". However, Saul/Paul's admonitions are also vague, usually mis-translated and mis-understood. In the end, if Ted Haggard were to REALLY have an impact since his re-emergence into the evangelical cesspool, it would make more sense for Ted to honestly declare that the Bible is very easily misused and misapplied when it comes to what the Bible actually says regarding same-sex love. Mr. Haggard might also have the opportunity to explore the conflicting and contradictory expositions of just what the Bible means regarding "marriage" and the differences between the Old and New Testaments when expounding upon that not-so-venerable "instituion". There also would be opportunities to debate the conflicts between the ideal of the Old Testament woman vs. the New Testament woman and Christ's liberation of the woman from patriarchal expectations and domination. Finally, what will Mr. Haggard gain from starting another "church"? Obviously, it is the only way he knows to earn a living, by exploiting the questioning faith of others and/or the acquiesent faith of others and persuading them to donate financially to show they support Mr. Haggard's vision of what the Bible teaches. One does not wish Mr. Haggard either success or failure. What one DOES wish for Mr. Haggard is that he at least come clean about himself, his true nature and whether or not he has learned anything at all since his fall from evangelical grace. One fears that Mr. Haggard has learned nothing and returns to his "calling" because he simply is unable to do anything else. That is sad, both for Mr. Haggard and those gullible enough to give him a second chance.

June 08 2010 at 1:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
vobox3343

The church is the sinner's hospital - all of them

June 07 2010 at 1:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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