Last spring, I was speaking at my friend Mark Hurst’s great GEL conference about The Unlikely Disciple. I thought it was a cool opportunity to tell my story to an audience of media/tech-centric New Yorkers who wouldn’t know much about Liberty University, Jerry Falwell, or the evangelical world in general.
So at the post-conference reception, I was surprised when another attendee came up to me, told me that he knew the world of evangelical Christianity intimately since he had grown up in Colorado Springs (which, as you probably know, is sort of to churches what Manhattan is to cupcakes), and introduced himself as Marcus.
Son of Ted Haggard, the pastor who was booted from his 14,000-member megachurch in 2006 for engaging in sexual acts and drug use with a male escort.
So after I recovered from THAT, we got to talking, and it turned out that Marcus had an amazing story. His dad, he said, had very nearly written a story about going undercover at a Christian college – in his case, Oral Roberts University in Tulsa – before converting and becoming a pastor. In essence, Marcus said, we’d had the same idea, 35 years apart.
Even though I’ve been writing mostly about Wall Street lately and have a book to finish, I decided I couldn’t let a story like this pass me by. So I called Ted, who agreed to let me come out to Colorado Springs and interview him about what’s happened to him since the scandal.
The result was the most challenging and fascinating (and judging from the e-mails I’ve gotten, the most controversial) assignment I’ve ever been handed. And, I’ll confess, it made me miss writing about religion.
Read The Last Temptation of Ted over at GQ.