The Trials of Ted Haggard | Reflections

Posted on May 13, 2016


Alexandra Pelosi. The Trials of Ted Haggard. HBO (2009) Watch online.

the-trials-of-ted-haggard-300x450It’s hard to sum up the thinking that goes on in my head when I watch films like this. There’s the anger/disappointment that swells whenever you hear of “yet another,” and how it only confirms the hypocritical reputation that clergy have. There’s the fascination with the Evangelical sub-culture that is still very predominant in our day, and the desire to simply learn more about it. (e.g. When God Talks Back) There’s the frustration with “the church” and even the state of Colorado for “banning” him and his family, ostracizing him, and in the words of Jesus, “treat[ing] [him] as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:17b) Then there’s the gratitude to Pelosi for even producing films like this, to platform real life, a journalistic venture critical to our public discourse about anything, but especially important when the “privacy” of religion can often hijack that ethic.

But all of those thoughts and emotions are ultimately summed up in this sense/feeling: sad.

I remember when my friends and I first heard about this scandal, and a good friend of mine said to me, “Whoa. Well, we didn’t see that one comin’!” It was, to all of us, a “what the h*ll is going on here?!” moment. Watching the news, and reading the reports took us through that slow fade from DEFCON nah to DEFCON WTF. As is par for the course of humanity, people began polarizing to either hatred or dismissiveness. I, however, could never get on board with either of those voices, the condemnation that demonized Ted, nor the sympathetic acquiescence that said his mistakes really don’t matter. I simply felt sadness, and compassion, and a wrestling with how we can in this situation, “tithe our mint, dill, and cumin” without “neglecting the more important matters of the [Torah]—justice, mercy and faithfulness.” (Matthew 23:23)

I’m sad for Ted and his family, and the transition to “downward mobility,” literally moving from house to house without a home.

I’m sad for the Evangelical community who had yet again to navigate the waters of our light and salt being muddied by darkness and spoiling.

I’m sad for the church, New Life…ugh, it’s just painful.

I’m sad for all of the clergy in America who have, by default, opted in to carrying these burdens by mere fact of vocation.


Happy [Blessed] are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)