In his second-story church office, with its spectacular view of Colorado's Front Range, Ted Haggard spars playfully with a reporter from The Philadelphia Inquirer. Established East Coast newspapers haven't always sent reporters to interview pastors in Colorado, no matter how big their churches got. Times have changed.
In February, Harper's Magazine devoted 14 pages to Pastor Ted and his New Life Church in Colorado Springs, depicting him and his neighbor James Dobson as the two most powerful (and therefore dangerous) evangelicals in America. The piece by Jeff Sharlet was mostly scary atmosphericshe made much of the muscular warrior angels that adorn Haggard's World Prayer Centerbut it helped draw reporters. Today, Haggard is talking to the BBC and an XM radio talk-show host, in addition to the Inquirer's Paul Nussbaum.
Since Harper's placed Haggard somewhere on the spectrum between the Grand Inquisitor and William Jennings Bryan, you might expect Haggard to treat the press stiffly. On the contrary, he speaks appreciatively of Sharlet and seems genuinely eager to talk to Nussbaum. Haggard and his staff tell reporters to go anywhere, film anything, and talk to anybody.
Early this year, Haggard did send a memo to his congregation, tutoring them in proper behavior with TV reporters. "If a camera is on you during a worship service, worship; don't dance, jump, etc. Jumping and dancing in church looks too bizarre for most to relate to. Don't talk about the Devil, demons, voices speaking to you. Instead, tell your personal story in common-sense language. Don't be spooky or weird. Don't switch into a glassy-eyed heavenly mode."
Haggard believes in territorial spirits, demonic oppression, visions, ...