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Rewriting History: Haggard Now Denies Wrongdoing in 2006 Scandal That Ended His NAE Presidency

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Ted Haggard, the former head of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), who left it and New Life Church in Colorado Springs in 2006 after a sensational scandal involving a male escort and methamphetamines, now denies any wrongdoing in that case as he defends himself against new sex charges at his second church, which closed earlier this year.

“The people who know me know these things are ridiculous,” said Haggard in a sermon delivered to a few dozen members of his third congregation, Storyhouse Church, which he launched this summer after closing down St. James Church. 

“I hate the fact that the public record of me has been established by people who never met me or don’t know me,” said Haggard in a July 31 sermon entitled, “Ted Haggard Responds to News Article Accusing Him.”

Haggard’s latest problems were reported by Debbie Kelley of The Gazette in Colorado Springs on Sunday, Aug. 28. She first reported about allegations against Haggard on July 24, and he denied them in a sermon he delivered that day. 

“Every time they’ve investigated one of these things, they’ve investigated them and determined them not to have merit,” said Haggard, who failed to explain why he left NAE and New Life at the peak of his career if the charges made against him then were false.

In 2006, after Mike Jones said he had sexual encounters with Haggard over several years, Haggard signed a $200,000 severance agreement with New Life that required him to leave Colorado Springs and undergo counseling. Haggard refused to complete his regimen of counseling and restoration, which he complained was too harsh, and returned to the Springs, claiming he had been miraculously healed.

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He now blames the 2006 scandal on the news media, which he claims “wanted a narrative that we preachers are bad guys.”

Earlier this year, an elder at St. James publicly alleged Haggard was still involved in drugs, gay porn, and inappropriate touching with males at the church. Haggard closed the church, sold its building, and started Storyhouse Church at his home near New Life.  

In his sermon, Haggard acknowledged that he’s not perfect but pointed to his premier rating as a Lyft driver.

While pastor of St. James, Haggard asserted his personal failures had provided him insights into sin and grace that other pastors lacked. He now denies that.

“In 2006 I was accused, and they accused me of things I never even dreamed of, but then it became my national reputation. So I decided to use it,” said Haggard in an Aug. 14 sermon.

“I’m the chiefest of sinners, and I use it. When I meet people, I say, ‘Hey, Jesus died on the cross for a reason, and I am it.’ I have no hesitation in using what is dished out to me.”

Brady Boyd, who has led and grown the congregation at New Life in the 16 years since Haggard left, told The Gazette that Haggard was a “moral failure” who “still has those problems today.” He said Haggard had been “purged” from the church. 

“He has nothing to do with our church, and New Life has nothing to do with him,” said Boyd.

The recent reporting on Haggard has surfaced new reports of his misbehavior. A gay man from New York told The Gazette that Haggard befriended him then pressed him for nude photos and a chance to see him naked in person.  

“Every time I said no, he would then apologize and say that was the devil taking over,” said the man.

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Steve Rabey

Steve Rabey is a veteran author and journalist who has published more than 50 books and 2,000 articles about religion, spirituality, and culture. He was an instructor at Fuller and Denver seminaries and the U.S. Air Force Academy. He and his wife Lois live in Colorado.