And so the saga of Ted Haggard moves from the press and kitchen tables of America into the world of reality TV.
HBO will release a documentary on the troubled ex-pastor this month, and the sad story of a closeted gay man who marries and becomes a vocal opponent of gay rights will be brushed up and spun for TV.
The really sad story is the truth, which Haggard has not faced: that he is homosexually oriented and no amount of "ex-gay" therapy is about to change that.
Proof of this came as another bombshell was released, conveniently in time for extra publicity for HBO, that a younger male church volunteer also had an ongoing tryst with Haggard, and that the church paid hush money to the young man to make the issue go away.
Haggard had no comment since apparently he signed his rights away to HBO, whose spokespeople had no comment.
Haggard, if you don’t remember, was the pastor of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., and was brought down by a gay sex scandal with a male escort.
The sordid tale of sex and drugs ended Haggard’s career and he checked into a spiritual retreat to "get cured" of his gayness. After an intensive "treatment," Haggard emerged and claimed he was all better now. He moved from Colorado Springs and now sells insurance.
My problem with this whole story is one of honesty and reality.
If Haggard is truly gay in his sexual orientation, no amount of therapy will cure him. It’s not a disease, so there’s nothing to be cured of.
Sure, he can "behave" like a heterosexual. He probably can even have straight sex. But deep down inside he will still have the desire and proclivity for intimacy with men.
It is my bet that Haggard will again have trouble with this issue and find a way to fulfill his natural and God-given sexual desires with other men. If his time at New Life Church is any indicator, he was quite busy fulfilling that in Colorado Springs.
A letter to the congregation of New Life Church, written by new pastor Brady Boyd, tries to deny the payoff was hush money. The payment was made "not as an attempt to conceal wrongdoings, but to protect him from those who would seek to exploit him."
The letter said the church "received reports of a number of incidents of inappropriate behavior" after Haggard’s fall, and that, "In each case, we have tried our very best to do the right thing each time, including disciplinary action when appropriate."
I suspect money was involved in those cases as well, but time and the courts will see. I would not be surprised to see the congregation file some sort of lawsuit to oust the current church leadership for inappropriate use of funds.
Meanwhile, Haggard will be on TV, parading his sordid affair on HBO and reaping whatever publicity and cash he can from it.
I would hope Haggard would someday reconcile his true self with this public persona and admit that he is either gay or bisexual and get on with his life. He would be happier, his family would be happier, and I wouldn’t have to watch him dragging his duplicitous face across my TV again and again talking about being cured from being gay.
His story would be even better if he just admitted it and came out.
Perhaps that is what HBO is keeping under wraps?
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 30, 2009.