The Trials of Ted Haggard

HBO Documentary Films

Available on DVD and on HBO On Demand. Upcoming broadcasts: 7:15 tonight (Feb. 12) on HBO2; 10 a.m. Saturday (Feb. 14) and 5 p.m. Feb. 20 on HBO.

A fall from grace is always striking. Not only is it a stark side of humanity, it proffers lessons in hubris and humility. And when the person involved is a high-powered preacher … well, it rises (sinks?) to a whole other level. Such is the story of Ted Haggard, who founded the New Life Church in Colorado and, during the height of the Bush administration, had the ear of the president as leader of the National Association of Evangelicals. Filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi (Journeys With George) interviewed Haggard for her documentary Friends of God mere months before a sex-and-drugs scandal cost him his ministry. Sent on an “exile” that took him to Arizona, Haggard let Pelosi capture the vagabond existence his family led over the following year—moving from borrowed home to borrowed home, then a hotel and an apartment, all the while looking for a job and praying prospective employers wouldn’t Google him. He comes across as a sympathetic figure, mainly because of his candor; Pelosi asks painful questions that evoke pained answers. Whether you love or hate this polarizing persona, you’ll gain insight from his Trials.