The Advocate: Can You Forgive Ted Haggard?
One of America’s most controversial pastors has returned to the pulpit—and he’s trying to change the way evangelicals treat gays and lesbians. Is Ted Haggard for real?
When speaking to reporters about the establishment of his new church, St. James, an embattled Ted Haggard noted that congregants “gay, straight, bit, tall, short, where you’re an addict, a recovering addict, or you have an addict in your family” have a home there. The Advocate’s Andrew Harmon now visits Haggard and the St. James Church, examining the evolution of a man and ministry.
Haggard’s a fall from grace came in 2006 when, as head of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., he denied any involvement with Mike Jones, then a gay escort in Denver, who now works as a nursing assistant. Reinvention after a public sex scandal is a tough road, and Haggard has already begun making his way. His church now consists of a few hundred people, including some who are openly gay.
And, like President Obama’s, his view of marriage equality seems to be “evolving.” Back in 2006, Haggard supported Colorado’s Proposition 43, which banned gay marriage under the state constitution, although he supported a failed proposition that would have granted domestic-partnership rights to gays and lesbians.
Now Haggard wants to be clear: He supports civil marriage rights for gay couples. “The word marriage is a big deal to people of faith,” he tells The Advocate. “We’ve made it sacred. That’s why I believe that churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples should have total freedom to have whatever types of unions they believe as godly.” [ KEEP READING ]
Haggard also renounces the evangelical powers that be, those who he always thought were out to get him. “They’ll always think I’m a closet homosexual. And they hate homosexuals, that crew,” he says. “The number 1 way they can raise funds is not to encourage people to be more loving, not to encourage people to be less greedy, or to encourage people to be more kind. It’s to say there’s a homosexual agenda to siege America, and fund us so we can battle this agenda, to save the family.”
Jones, the man who brought Haggard down, still has plenty to say as well. When he tried to tell his story on Oprah, the show’s producers told him he was irrelevant. “When my world was collapsing, when the media was knocking at my door, I really felt abandoned by the gay community,” Jones says, adding that he’s not looking for any pity. “I have fought for gay rights all my adult life. People said I did this for the money. What money? I’ve been dirt-poor since this happened. I regret I ever said anything. It has simply not been worth it.”
Read the full cover story at Advocate.com.
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