Disgraced pastor Ted Haggard, devoted wife appear on ‘Divorce Court’

Fallen evangelical Pastor Ted Haggard — brought to his knees more than two years ago by a taste for gay sex and crystal meth — continues on the comeback trail with wife Gayle in tow, taping an interview Wednesday on the television show “Divorce Court,” set to air April 1. What, he couldn’t book “The Biggest Loser”?

Ted and Gayle Haggard (Illustration/Ernest Luning)

Ted and Gayle Haggard (Illustration/Ernest Luning)

The Haggards weren’t getting divorced — in fact, their marriage is stronger than ever, the Colorado Springs Gazette reports. No, the couple wanted to talk with the show’s presiding judge, Lynn Toler, about how the former New Life Church leader’s troubles brought them closer together and bolstered their Christian faith.

“This is part of Ted’s journey,” Gayle Haggard told the Gazette. “It’s made him a better man. I see what has happened as a divine rescue.”

The Fox show usually features sordid tales of anger and betrayal — next week, it’s “DNA Week,” involving suspected cheaters who agree to submit their offspring to genetic tests — but when the Haggards’ episode airs, it’ll likely be a sordid tale with a happy ending. No, not the kind of happy ending Pastor Ted sought from male escort Mike Jones.

What will “Divorce Court” watchers learn, come April Fool’s Day? The Gazette offers a taste:

After the scandal broke, Ted says he asked Gayle to divorce him.

“I told her life was going to be difficult for her, but if you divorce me, people will embrace you.”

Biblical principals of forgiveness, compassion, steadfastness and her husband’s genuine repentance helped Gayle through the darkest hours, she said, and she believes his struggles have deepened his Christian walk.

“I think he is better equipped to minister to people than ever before,” she said.

Following a round of interviews on the “Oprah Winfrey Show,” “Larry King Live” and “Good Morning America” earlier this year, Pastor Ted is back on the road with speaking engagements at prominent evangelical churches across the country, the Gazette reports. Here’s the “Ted Haggard Healing Overview” the disgraced pastor sends churches that extend invitations, including the revelation that the Haggards “immediately sensed God’s pleasure” after recent television appearances.

In addition to the anticipated divine pleasure, the Haggards were paid an “undisclosed amount” for their appearance on “Divorce Court,” the Gazette reports. It’s unknown whether that’s the same “undisclosed amount” of hush money as what Haggard’s former church in Colorado Springs paid to a young male New Life parishioner who claimed he shared an “inappropriate, consensual sexual relationship” with the pastor.

That’s the same young male parishioner who subsequently charged the evangelical megachurch with reneging on the hush-money deal after the young man started talking to the press around the time an HBO documentary about Haggard was set to air.

Wait, was that before or after a character from “Dog the Bounty Hunter” set out on a pro bono investigation to determine the extent of Pastor Ted’s picadillos with young male parishioners, and the church’s efforts to cover them up? If you’re having trouble keeping track of the scandals surrounding Haggard, you’re not alone.

So set your TiVo (the show airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on Fox 21, KRMX, in Colorado Springs and at noon on Fox 31, KDVR, in Denver) and pop the popcorn. It’ll be an April Fool’s Day for the books.

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Ernest Luning

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