Schadenfreude ruined

Film
Recommended
4 out of 5 stars
PASTOR TENSE Ted Haggard, formerly of the New Life Church
Photo: Nora Feller/HBO PASTOR TENSE Ted Haggard, formerly of the New Life Church

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

In late 2006, when it came out that New Life Church pastor Ted Haggard was, in his spare time, a crystal meth enthusiast and solicitor of sleazy male prostitutes, the collective, self-satisfied cackle from the secular humanists among us was completely predictable. Which of us wouldn’t jump at the chance to point and laugh at the disgraced, hypocritical leader of an evangelical megachurch? It provided weeks of material for Jon Stewart & Co. and restored our faith in the benefits of totally lacking faith. There’s nothing like putting a human face on a monster, though, to ruin everyone’s good time.

Alexandra Pelosi’s documentary is a sad, cautionary tale about the selective forgiveness offered by the members of Jesus’ army. Pelosi, daughter of U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy and documenter of the American right, follows Haggard and his family as they’re literally exiled from their Colorado Springs home, forced to move from small apartment to hotel whileliving out of a U-Haul, and are treated like lepers by those who once called them friends. As you watch Haggard’s life crumbling—trying (and failing) to sell insurance door-to-door and begging for scraps—one can’t help but think that there is a limit to how much fools should suffer (and how much we should suffer fools).

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