LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Ted Haggard, the powerful U.S. evangelist who fell from grace in 2006 amid a gay sex scandal, returned to the spotlight Friday saying his faith was stronger but he wished people had been more forgiving.
Haggard, 52, was exiled from the New Life mega-church he founded and told by church elders to leave Colorado after admitting "sexual immorality" and buying methamphetamines from a male prostitute.
It was a stunning admission for the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, a formidable force among U.S. conservative Christians and a group that had the ear of the White House.
An HBO documentary about Haggard's year in exile, his struggle with his sexuality in the face of his past condemnation of gays, and his attempts to make a living outside the church, will air on the cable TV network on January 29.
Haggard, his wife Gayle and two of his five children appeared on a panel for U.S. television critics Friday to promote the documentary, "The Trials of Ted Haggard." He had previously been barred by evangelical leaders from speaking to the media.
"I don't think it is a flattering piece. I think it is even-handed," Haggard told Reuters in an interview. "It is embarrassing for me for people to see it, but it does answer their questions."
Haggard refers to himself in the documentary as a sinner who deserved the punishment meted out to him. He says he came close to suicide.
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