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Pastor Ted and his Clockwork Orange restoration

“Ted is not in touch with reality.”
the Rev. Mark Cowart, a friend of Haggard

“Ted says he’s not a homosexual. The restoration team wants experts to evaluate that.”
the Rev. Mike Ware, another “good friend”

This sh*t is scary. This is clearly going to be the most public look at the religious psychological torture of a man trying to come to grips with his sexuality.

Ted Haggard is about to start his formal three-to-five year “spiritual journey” of restoration, though from the description in the LA Times, it sounds like the man’s about to be put through a horrible emotional, perhaps even physical, wringer by these fundies who consider themselves peers and friends of the fallen pastor.

Haggard, 50, has turned himself over to a team of counselors who are “assessing his spiritual, emotional and mental condition,” said the Rev. H.B. London, who is helping to guide Haggard through the process. London and two other pastors will then set out a rigorous “restoration plan” requiring Haggard to spend hours each week in counseling, Bible study, prayer and soul-baring talks — by phone or in person — with his mentors.

It’s clear from the quotes above that his peers think he’s gay and denying it —  will this be the most high-profile case of “ex-gay” therapy that movement has ever seen? It’s becoming quite clear where this is heading…

Those close to the restoration will not say whether Haggard will undergo therapy to try to eliminate same-sex attractions. But the conservative Christian leader James C. Dobson, a close friend, has said the healing process — which could last years — will probably aim to eliminate any homosexuality.

It looks like his recovery team is not 100% sure they’re going to succeed. Read more after the jump.The article notes that Haggard’s charismatic evangelical faith places great weight on Satan and demons “causing sin,” removing any personal responsibility for his behavior or actions. This is setting him up for failure in what this restoration team (Rev. Jack W. Hayford and Rev. Tommy Barnett, who share this charismatic view) deem a recovery.

Such constructions worry the Rev. Tony Campolo, a liberal evangelical leader who helped guide President Clinton’s spiritual restoration after the Monica S. Lewinsky affair. “The idea that this is a matter of some evil spirit taking hold of him is setting Ted Haggard up for disaster,” Campolo said. “He may have a tendency to pretend that he’s been delivered from his homosexual feelings … and all is well.”

London, who is part of Daddy Dobson’s God Squad, is already floating the idea that Pastor Ted may not be able to see his “treatment” through should he not be able to pray away the gay.

As director of pastoral outreach for the Colorado Springs-based ministry, London has counseled hundreds of clergy with admitted moral failings; up to half don’t make it through the rehabilitation. “They grow weary of the regimen and drop out,” he said.

Those who stick with the process often feel almost unbearably isolated. “Many have run for years on the adrenaline that comes from power and recognition — and suddenly it’s gone,” London said. “The phone’s not ringing. People don’t need you.”

This is sad. Haggard has nowhere to turn for sane advice at this point — hopefully folks in the ex-ex-gay movement will be able to get in touch with Ted to offer a different way out that doesn’t damage him — or his family — any further.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding