Holy Crap: Ted Haggard Begs For Our Forgiveness

Ted Haggard was here last week, begging for our forgiveness. No really, people. Ted Haggard was HERE as in HERE – East Tennessee. Apparently, some local church paid Ted and the Mrs. to come and speak to them. Well, they paid Ted to come and beg for forgiveness; Mrs. Ted spoke about said forgiveness, which you may also read about in the book she just recently “wrote.”

Ted’s speech was very Christmas Sweater-y. In fact, Glenn Beck is going to be really pissed when he finds out that Ted is totally stealing his redemption schtick. And as we all know, Glenn Beck will mock your miscarriage on his radio show, so imagine what he will do to poor Ted.

And yes, I DO mean “poor Ted.” I find people that insist that homosexuality is “wrong” to be sad and generally loathsome. That said, I have some sympathy for Ted (due in large part to Alexandra Pelosi’s documentary) and wish very much that he had the ability to accept himself as he is. Which OF COURSE does not absolve him of all the damage that he has done; but neither does it cost us anything to acknowledge his suffering.

Yes, he is responsible for perpetrating many ills and fanning much bigotry in the name of religion. But it would also serve us well to remember that this is a man who hates what he is.  And while he personally is responsible for his perpetuation of hate and fearmongering, we must also recognize that he is also the product of such hate and fear.

You see, I believe that people are not born bigots. I believe that bigots are created. Unlike the bigots who believe that people “choose” to be gay, I do not believe that people “choose” to become bigots – although I do believe that at some point they do choose to continue being bigots. But in some unfortunate cases, people are so insulated in their bigotry that their hate and fear is affirmed by everyone and everything in their life at every turn. Like Ted.

Ted and Mrs. Ted both suggest that true Christians should not be so judgmental, but at no point does anyone even suggest that Christians should rethink the whole rejection thing. Forgiveness and redemption – but absolutely no mention of acceptance. And Ted so firmly and absolutely believes that being gay is wrong, that it is something he can choose or reject, that “choosing” acceptance is almost entirely impossible.

Ted considers his “sin” of being gay so awful and so great that he is going around the country begging the forgiveness of any and every judgmental fuck who attends a church that has paid Ted to come and beg for forgiveness.

Pardon me, but I think there is something very sick and very sad about this.

Here are some experts from the KPT Times-News article:

In 2005, Haggard was listed by Time magazine as one of the top 25 most influential evangelicals in America. He is the founder of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., which at the time of his crisis had 14,000 members.  In 2006, Haggard resigned from all of his church leadership positions after admitting to soliciting a male prostitute for sex and methamphetamine. “I need to know, are you willing to forgive me?” Haggard asked the congregation. His question was met with applause.

He described the crisis as a “moral failure involving sex and drugs.” “There’s incredible shame and pain, and in this Internet age, nothing ever goes away,” he said. “There’s not time, nor is there distance because of the Internet.” Haggard noted that the Lord will always forgive our sins, but people here on Earth aren’t always so forgiving. He added that the forgiveness he has received, especially from people close to him, created an atmosphere in which he could be healed. It’s a lesson that everyone can learn from, he added.

Haggard said, “When the crisis happened she (his daughter) said ‘I am so relieved. I have always seen you as so perfect. Now I can relate to you.’ Before, people thought so highly of me that when they met me they’d be disappointed. Now they think so poorly of me when they meet me they’re relieved.” Gayle Haggard said that when she was told about her husband’s involvement in a drug and sex scandal, she felt as if her life — which she described as perfect to that point — was over. She’d lost her husband, the dignity of her children, and the church she loved.

She added, “We’re really missing it when we think that Christianity is about our own righteousness. I love the way Martin Luther says we’re at the same time saints and sinners. When Ted and I were pastoring we tried to be as compassionate and merciful as we knew how to be — as much as we understood. But what we did not know was what it felt like to be the person who needed mercy and compassion, until we walked through this.”

Haggard noted that Jesus died on the cross for a reason, and the reason is all around us every day. “We all equally need the Lord,” he said. “That’s not to minimize my sin. My sin is great and severe. I need all of the blood of Jesus that’s available to me, and there’s an adequate amount available. But so do all of us.”

Sad. So freaking sad. How can you love something that utterly rejects who you are? Worse still – how can you continue to promote and support such a stance, when there really are other options?


  1. Jonathan said,

    December 15, 2009 at 12:09 am

    Fantastic piece. I so wish this church would have promoted his appearance beforehand. That would have been a hilarious show of local nut-wing organizations coming together in the spirit of hate and rejection.

  2. SevenCell said,

    December 15, 2009 at 11:53 pm

    This story has stuck with me for years: A daughter (a friend) recounted a childhood episode, the family driving home from the Catholic church in the old station wagon with the wood panel doors. Now the father, a protestant, attended the church with the mother, a cradle Catholic, and the two kids so everyone could be together. This particular Sunday morn, the father simply could not abide the priests prior utterances. So he proceeded to complain the whole way home, “That $#!@#$ priest! He doesn’t know what he’s talkin’ about. Stupid @#$%@#$%…” The mother, naturally, was consumed with visions of purgatory and began signing the cross feverishly, “Oh, daddy, you can’t say things like that! You just can’t say things like that!!!”

    So the father, even more determined to make his point, pulled the car off the shoulder and stopped it, “Oh yes I can!” And he wheeled around with his arm across the seat so he could turn to the back make eye contact with the children. “Kids! God gave ya a brain so you can use it! Find a church where you can agree with 70 percent of what they say. And the other 30 percent….Just keep your mouth shut!” And then he shut up, turned, and drove home.

    I believe, very slowly, we see more and more acceptance and tolerance in churches as a whole over time and that is possibly due to the strength of the central values/messages of sacrifice and love. They can’t be quelled by even the stupidest preachers over decades and centuries. The real truths just keep bubbling to the surface no matter how hard we try to crush them. For what its worth, I don’t think all churchgoers agree with everything a preacher or priest says. I think an awful lot of people listen quietly and only take what is worthwhile home. Thanks for another awesome post and topic (as usual)!

  3. Celeste Peck said,

    December 16, 2009 at 9:17 am

    Brilliant reflection, SFL. You spoke straight from my heart.

  4. Celeste Peck said,

    December 16, 2009 at 9:19 am

    Thanks also for the Glenn Beck material.

  5. staghounds said,

    January 8, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    I sure wish I could choose my sexuality!

    Being attracted to ugly, old, rich women would make life SO much easier.

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