Ted Haggard Opens Up About His Past in New Documentary

In documentary, pariah pastor Haggard reveals sexual past, says still struggles.

ByABC News
January 7, 2009, 5:35 PM

Jan. 8, 2009 — -- Ted Haggard, the former evangelical megachurch leader who fell from grace in a 2006 sex and drugs scandal, is making efforts to redeem himself in an HBO documentary in which he reveals new details about sexual abuse he claims he suffered as a child.

Haggard, the former president of the National Evangelical Association, who two years ago admitted to a relationship with a male prostitute, will meet with television critics in Los Angeles Friday to promote "The Trials of Ted Haggard."

The film was directed by documentary filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi, the daughter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and will air Jan. 29.

Before the scandal broke, Haggard was a powerhouse and star in the evangelical world, rising quickly from the humble founding of Colorado's New Life Church in his basement in the 1980s. By 2006, the church was 12,000 members strong and Haggard, as president of the evangelical association, was exchanging weekly phone calls with President Bush.

In the new film, Haggard says he is angry with the New Life Church, but also begs forgiveness and blames his struggle with sexuality with being molested by his father as a 7-year-old.

"I had same-sex play in the second grade and then that all blew up when I was 50," Haggard says in a pre-released clip from the film. "I didn't know if I was heterosexual, homosexual, gay or straight. What are you?"

Though he had once damned homosexuality in the pulpit, Haggard tells Pelosi, "I have struggled and continue to struggle from time to time with same-sex attraction."

Pelosi documents Haggard's day-to-day life in Arizona and Texas, where he lived with his wife and five children after getting fired from the church he founded.

The film explores Haggard's attempts at personal redemption, with an early review saying he "careens from self-pity to self-loathing to self-aggrandizement in the documentary."

Brady Boyd, Haggard's successor at the New Life Church, told ABCNews.com that the film depicts a time when the outcast pastor was at a low point in his life and he is now "healing."

But Mike Jones, the male prostitute who ushered in Haggard's demise, said the film is Haggard's "last gasp trying to get back in the spotlight."

Haggard, 52, confessed in November 2006 to "sexual immorality" and buying methamphetamines from Jones, after Jones told a radio station he had known Haggard for two years as a client named, "Art from Kansas City."

At the time, Haggard said he was struggling with a "dark, repulsive side" and was "a deceiver and a liar."

Later, he tells Pelosi, he was afraid to tell the truth because he was "responsible" as president of the 30-million-strong evangelical association and pastor to 12,000.

Banished from the church leadership, Haggard recounts his struggle to find work as an insurance agent and keep his family together, telling Pelosi, "I'm a big loser," according to a review in the Colorado Springs Gazette.

Today, Haggard has moved back to a $700,000 home in Colorado Springs one mile from the New Life Church, and he continues to sell insurance, according to local press reports. Calls to Haggard were not returned, but his daughter-in-law confirmed the family would attend Friday's news conference.

The documentary and accompanying media event are not Haggard's only foray back into the public eye. In November, he took the pulpit as a guest at the 350-member Open Bible Fellowship in Morrison, Ill. There, he apologized for making his family suffer, acknowledged suicidal thoughts and chastised church leaders for missing an opportunity to use his scandal to "communicate the Gospel worldwide," according to local press reports.