The evangelist forced out of his job after being caught up in a sex scandal involving a male prostitute has left a "spiritual restoration program" and no longer has any ties to the megachurch he founded, the congregation's new pastor said Sunday.
Under a severance deal that Ted Haggard reached with the church in 2006, he agreed to leave Colorado Springs and not talk about the scandal publicly. The deal expired at the end of 2007. New pastor Brady Boyd said Haggard was now free to live where he wanted and has returned to Colorado Springs.
"They have moved back and they live in the original house that they lived in for many years," Boyd said of Haggard and his wife, Gayle.
Haggard answered the telephone at his Colorado Springs telephone number on Sunday and confirmed he was in the city but said he couldn't talk to reporters.
He was fired in 2006 as pastor of the 14,000-member church he established, after a former male prostitute alleged they had a cash-for-sex relationship. The man also said he saw Haggard use methamphetamine.
Haggard, who also stepped down as president of the National Association of Evangelicals, confessed to undisclosed "sexual immorality" and said he bought meth but didn't use it.
Haggard then moved to Phoenix with his family to begin what church leaders called a spiritual restoration program, which was expected to include counseling and prayer and last five years or longer. Boyd said Haggard asked to released from the restoration program in January and is no longer connected with New Life.
Haggard and church officials clashed last summer after Haggard sent an e-mail to a Colorado Springs television station outlining his plans to work as a counselor at a Christian-run halfway house in Phoenix. The e-mail also solicited financial support.
A four-pastor team of overseers said that those plans were unacceptable and that Haggard would seek secular employment instead.
Boyd said Haggard was in private business but didn't have any further details. He said there were no plans for him to work again at New Life.
The New Life Church was the site of a shooting in December in which two sisters were killed after a gunman fatally shot two people at a mission center in suburban Denver.