Filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi first met megachurch pastor Ted Haggard while making Friends of God, a documentary about evangelicals, some five years ago. Self-described as "not a really religious person," Pelosi met many Christian leaders at the time, but found Haggard to be the most cordial of them all; she and her husband ended up as friends with Haggard and his wife, Gayle.
When the news broke about Haggard's sex-and-drugs scandal in late 2006, Pelosi was stunned: "It was just a total disconnect from the Ted that we knew," she told CT. But Pelosi also said that considering the severity of the offense, Haggard, forced to resign as pastor of Colorado Springs' New Life Church, "deserves what he got."
Pelosi, daughter of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, hung out with Haggard quite a bit in the last couple of years … with the camera rolling for a documentary about a broken man and his family trying to find hope and healing amid the ashes of self-destruction. Pelosi says the Haggards have mostly found healing — primarily through the power of Scripture, a development that genuinely impressed the filmmaker.
Her new documentary, The Trials of Ted Haggard, debuts on HBO Thursday night (8 p.m. Eastern). CT editor David Neff spoke with Pelosi about the film — and Haggard's trials — earlier this week.
You included Ted Haggard in your earlier film Friends of God. What gave you the idea to do this follow-up documentary?
It's a long story. When Bush got reelected in 2004, there was a lot of talk about how powerful evangelicals were at the ballot box. As someone who had done political documentaries, I was fascinated by this, so I thought I should go meet some evangelicals. I went out and I met Jerry Falwell, Joel Osteen, ...