Breaking News: Ted Haggard Back in the Pulpit

The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.  The Lord of the Rings   Haldir, Chapter 'Lothlórien'.



One of theç purposes of this blog is to monitor breaking news in the world of faith.  Although we intend to stick to a series format as much as possible, we will deviate from this when a news story is relevant to the intent behind this endeavor.  Tomorrow we will continue with our series on spiritual abuse.


The Charlotte Observer ran an article on April 28, 2009, about Ted Haggard being invited to speak at a church called Charlotte’s Elevation.  You can read about this church at:


According to the website, the church is theologically conservative, while attempting to relate to today’s culture in an aggressive way.


Tim Funk, of The Charlotte Observer, wrote the article about Haggard’s visit to this church.

As you may know, Haggard lost his position as Senior Pastor of the 14,000-member New Life Church in Colorado and resigned as President of the National Association of Evangelicals after it was revealed that he had a long-term relationship with a male prostitute and was using drugs.  During this period, Haggard also admitted to having been sexually molested as a child.,1299,DRMN_15_5112770,00.html


Haggard now claims he is fully healed and ready to resume his ministry.  You may read his side of the story at:


Both of us had the misfortune of knowing about a group of young teenage boys who were sexually molested by a pedophile at a church.  Some of these boys had not received in-depth counseling after the incident.  As we researched the long-term effects of molestation, we were shocked by the statistics indicating how many of these boys may go on to become molesters themselves.  Furthermore, statistics show that a significant number of victims may have issues with drug abuse, severe depression, other sexual deviations, broken marriages, and suicide. 


We discovered that there are many resources available, including SNAP, a national organization dedicated to stopping sexual abuse and providing help and information to those abused in churches.  The lack of training for clergy in this area is appalling, and most church attendees are clueless as well.  In case you would like to learn more, we have included a few resources just to get you started.


Our point?  What makes Ted Haggard think he is healed?  Although he is sorry for his dalliance with a male prostitute, “Sorry” does not constitute a healing.  The fact that he claimed he was told by God that he was to return to Colorado to begin a ministry is highly suspect.  This man loves the limelight and is actively seeking out attention.


Oprah and Larry King, who have interviewed Haggard on their shows, have exploited him in their effort to boost ratings.  This man CRAVES attention.  Although somewhat charming and apologetic, Haggard is not to be trusted.  He kept the relationship with the male prostitute secret for three years.  One has to wonder whether there have been other relationships or illicit use of drugs.  This man needs long-term help and counseling and does not belong in a pulpit telling others what to do.


Finally, Tim Funk, of The Charlotte Observer, asked him whether he still believes that homosexuality is a sin.  His answer is equivocal and worrisome.  He said that everyone has to read their Bibles and determine that for themselves.  (Charlotte Observer, April 28, 2009).


Ted Haggard is the poster boy for the long-term effects of sexual molestation.  We have great empathy for the struggle that was foisted upon him as a boy by a narcissistic pedophile that thought only of his own pleasure.  However, our sympathy does not include restoring Haggard to the pulpit.  Many may say, “It isn’t fair”; however, Haggard knows full well that life is not fair.  Just look at the story of Job.


All churches must become cognizant of the effects of sexual abuse on children and teens.  This is a complex issue that involves the whole person: mentally, physically and spiritually.  We must take the abused under our wings and help them receive the help they need when they need it.  However, it is very difficult to determine if someone has truly overcome this problem, and statistics indicate that full healing in this area is rare.  We believe that three years is way too soon to determine whether Ted Haggard has truly recovered.  He should stay out of the pulpit, continue long term counseling, and be held accountable for his day to day actions.  We believe he is not ready to be a leader of thousands, hundreds, or even two.  Ted Haggard just needs to show that he can lead himself.


Breaking News: Ted Haggard Back in the Pulpit — 3 Comments

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    Tough call here. I also have a, “proceed with caution,” sentiment. But, he has done extensive counseling, came clean all the way, after his initial denials within the first week, and submitted himself beyond what he probably should have to the hyperauthoritarian, “leaders,” you so often write about. He also seems to have ordered his life to provide accountability for himself. I believe in the full restorative power of God in our lives, while I remain sceptical of human nature. So, let the guy preach and consider whether or not it is the good news of Jesus Christ. Just don’t leave him alone with another man.

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    First, thank you for your comment. I appreciate that you took the time to do so.

    I am a nurse who once worked in a hospital that helped people detox from alcohol and drugs. Remember, Haggard was also taking amphetamines which are highly addictive. Do you have any idea about the recidivism rate even among those who want to recover? It’s around 80%, some would say higher.

    I am not one of those folks that believes Jesus magically takes away our sin issues. Note Paul’s thorn in the flesh. Life usually is hard with day to day struggles that might last for a lifetime. In fact, I think it is those who are always looking for a quick cure that get hurt the most within the faith.

    Now let’s add a problem like same sex tendencies. This situation involves a deep-rooted identity problem that will take years, if ever to resolve. Haggard made some comment that some doctor told him that he wasn’t a homosexual. No competent physician would make such a statement based on a Haggard’s issues. But, one can always find a doctor who will say or do anything for money – see Michael Jackson’s “cardiologist” for an example.

    Haggard has no business leading a church or ministry. There would be nothing wrong in letting him work, under close supervision, within a Christian ministry. He would need to have surprise drug testing and full accountability, day and night, as to his schedule.

    But, Haggard demonstrates an egotism that causes him to seek out a a starring role. This characteristic portends poorly for his recovery. Humility and admission of frailty is a good start, but he had not demonstrated, in my opinion, these characteristics. It is most concerning.

    As for hyper-authoritarian supervisors, in this situation close accountability is warranted. Take a look at treatment programs that specialize in restoring those to the workplace. The supervision is intense because the recovery is difficult and the temptations are many. There are very few who can do this alone.

    Many years ago, my husband was involved in a medical practice (not his current one) which decided to take on a superstar doctor who had completed a treatment program for a narcotics addiction. This man was a fine physician and had published many papers in his young life. Both of us were opposed to his hiring because we both had experience dealing with those who have addictions. We felt it was too soon for him to be in a practice environment and that a more restrictive medical practice within an institution would have been advisable.

    But, my husband’s partners believed his treatment program had been intensive and that he had a good chance of overcoming the odds. Well, thank goodness for the hyper-authoritarian medical board which demanded unannounced drug tests. This man, who by the way was very involved in church, was caught taking drugs again within 5 months. Last I checked, this man is working in a Home Depot.

    Michael, I hope you are right and that I am wrong. But, I would say, that as things stand, Haggard is still poised for a fall.

    Once again, thank you for commenting.

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    Thanks for you response. I mostly agree with you. I believe scepticism and accountability are in order. I think it would be prudent to give it more time. I don’t think he needs to be leading a ministry either, right now.

    Your first post referred to a guest speaking engagement in a church. I was reponding to that. I don’t have a problem with him preaching/teaching as a guest. If he has repented, which I believe he has, and he has submitted to a restoration and reconciliation process, which he has, and has been in counseling, which he has been and continues to, and if he is living a life of accountability, preventing himself from even getting into compromising situations, which I believe he has, then I don’t have a problem with him in the pulpit, as long as he shares God’s word accurately. The bible says that the gifts and callings of God are without repentance.

    I have yet to meet a pastor or teacher who did not have some sin or temptation that was an issue in his life and who wasn’t a mess in some way. I have traveled all over the U.S. singing in hundreds of churches, and I know what a mess our, “leaders,” are.

    I share your scepticism and I appreciate it because so many of our church members have their heads buried in the sand. They are clueless. That is why I appreciate your blog so much. You articulate with great logic a wake up call to these asleep-at-the-wheel members who do need to wake up. Thanks.