Exclusive: Ted Haggard Breaks His Silence

Two years after sex scandal, preacher said he was "suicidal" with despair.

ByDAN HARRIS and LEE FERRAN via via logo
November 12, 2008, 7:18 AM

Nov. 12, 2008 — -- Ted Haggard, the disgraced former evangelical leader, recently broke his silence on the second anniversary of the scandal that brought him down.

He gave a pair of sermons at a small church in Illinois where the pastor is an old friend of his.

"The first thing I want you to know is I sinned," Haggard began.

Haggard's comments were quite revealing. They were recorded on audiotape and put on the Internet at www.tedhaggard.com.

Haggard told the congregation that a sexual incident with a man when he was 7 years old may be related to the scandal involving a male prostitute and crystal meth use that cost him his job two years ago.

"My dad was pretty successful," Haggard said. "He had a lot of workers. One of those workers had a sexual experience with me. I was 7 years old."

Haggard said that incident stayed with him throughout his life.

"There I was, 50 years old, a conservative Republican, loving the word of God, an evangelical, born-again, spirit-filled, charismatic, all those things," he said. "But some of the things that were buried in the depths of the sea from when I was in the second grade started to rage in my heart and mind."

"I'm very, very sorry that I sinned," he said. "My wife -- all my sin and shame fell on her. People treated her as if she had fallen. And my children -- they all went through carrying my shame."

But Haggard did not specifically discuss how he'd sinned, but said that some of the allegations against him from former gay prostitute Mike Jones concerning sex and crystal meth use were exaggerated. He revealed how devastating the scandal was.

"There came a moment in my life when we were so alone and there was so much despair that I was suicidal," he said. "And I'd figured out how I was going to kill myself and rid the world of the horrible curse of Ted Haggard."

But now, he said, he has been transformed with the help of God and his wife.

"I'm a stronger Christian than I've ever been in my life. I have a stronger marriage than I've ever had in my life," he said.

Haggard then issued an emotional critique of church leaders for not using his scandal to present Christian love.

"I believe that he [God] gives us opportunities every couple of years to communicate the gospel worldwide through secular media and we consistently blow it," he said. "A congressman in trouble, that's the time. A family member gets himself in horrible trouble, that's the time. A preacher gets himself in awful trouble, that's the time."

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