Just how honest has Ted Haggard been with himself and the media as he tries to repair his public image? He's been on a number of TV shows to coincide with the debut of the HBO documentary called "The Trials of Ted Haggard." I'd give him a C- for effort. He's figured out that deceiving his wife, his children, and his church wasn't the way to go, and he no doubt he feels lighter, freer, and happier as a result. But he's still in the dark when it comes to understanding that the part of himself that loves men is just as good as the part that loves his wife.
Using my well-honed personal lie detector, I sensed a fair amount of self-deception, and yes, he was trying to delude us too, when he was confronted with the clip of Grant Haas, who said Haggard had forced him to watch him masturbate. In an interview with a Colorado Springs station, Haas said he told Haggard that he had been kicked out of bible school for his "struggles with homosexuality," and "his eyes lit up and his whole attitude towards me changed." Haas is still angry, despite the money paid to him by the church to stay quiet, saying Haggard also sent him explicit text messages.
Haggard tried to minimize it by reverting to sound bites about "how Grant was in therapy at that time"--as if being in therapy somehow made it okay to have done what he did. In fact, forcing the poor guy to participate passively in Ted's masturbation was really more about power than sex. Ted's interest in gay hookers was likely just as much about power as it was about sex. Mike Jones, the former hooker who had a three-year, cash-for-sex relationship with Haggard, said it was strictly physical and not about love.
I also sensed a whitewash when Haggard was trying to convince himself and America that he and The New Life Church are bosom buddies again, a real lovefest. I'm sure he's a real thorn in their side and they wish he'd disappear. But just like Lazarus, he keeps coming back to life. They don't want to look bad, with this documentary airing, so they're being "Christian" and forgiving him, as he forgives them. Bullsh*t. There's a tremendous amount of ill will between them. He tore them apart and they threw him out (although with a year's $100 grand salary based on his promise to stay quiet for the year), to wander in the desert, the proverbial testing ground of both testaments.
Now he wants his power back. He's aiming to make money on the talk circuit as a redeemed sinner and to get accepted back into the public's graces. He doesn't care who he has to mow down. He's more of a power junkie than a man of the church.
The fact is, Ted's church and churches like his are far more compatible with the eye for an eye of the Old Testament than the radical message of Jesus. How many would run out of their churches if Jesus actually showed up in the flesh? I can picture Him hugging every HIV positive and AIDS-infested gay there, and wanting to unite same sex couples in Holy Matrimony. After all, that's what Jesus stands for: compassion for the most marginalized, the most downtrodden among us. In his day, it was the prostitute at the well and the lepers. Today's lepers, let's face it, are those with HIV/AIDS.
Ted will get an "A" for honesty when he's ready to admit that he really misses the power of the pulpit and will go to any lengths to regain it.