The former President of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) says that all are welcome to join him, whether they are “a Democrat, a Republican, gay, straight, bi, tall, short, addict, [or] recovering addict.”
Despite the air of inclusivity, he says he still holds up heterosexual marriage as God’s intention, and will not be performing gay marriages.
“Earth is not heaven. And here on Earth, sexuality is very complex and very confusing. … There is a complex process people have to go through between their personal beliefs and their own ideals that they themselves fail at, and I am a glaring example of that,” Haggard said in a press release.
In 2006, Haggard stepped down as Pastor of the 10,000-strong New Life Church when the media revealed details of his drug use and sexual encounters with gay escort Mike Jones. After three weeks of counselling, Haggard announced that he was “completely heterosexual.”
The husband and father of five has always denied being gay, instead characterizing his failures as issues stemming from childhood sexual abuse. In a 2008 documentary, he confessed he still struggles with his sexuality. In 2009, he began a home prayer group that he loosely described as a church, but said he had no intention of building another megachurch.
The announcement of a new, official church comes as no surprise. He has clearly been building up towards a return to this kind of ministry, and with a major documentary, regular news coverage and numerous media appearances over the last couple of years, the preacher’s publicity machine has remained consistently well-oiled.
For more coverage of Ted Haggard, see the Ex-Gay Watch archives.