Ted Haggard's new church moving to Pikes Peak Center: Too big too soon?

Comeback pastor Ted Haggard's new St. James church has been alternately praised for its feel-good message and derided as an empty infomercial due to the frequent presence of film crews recording his every prayer for a potential documentary.

Which leaves us to wonder: Is his impending move to Colorado Springs' hefty Pikes Peak Center a logical next step or overreaching for the sake of a plot device?

Granted, Haggard isn't moving immediately into the Center's great hall, which seats around 2,000 people. Instead, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette, he'll likely take over Studio Bee, whose capacity is 250 -- about the number of folks Haggard's most recent service attracted. But he's already talking about growing that number.

That's nothing new, of course. Early last month, Haggard told Joy Behar that attendance at his first session might draw twenty people, or two-hundred, or a thousand. The actual count: approximately 160.

This number has grown considerably over the past month, and Haggard is now saying he had to move from the barn on his property where previous sessions had been held because his insurance didn't cover church services. On July 7, however, Haggard e-mailed the Gazette that he was staying put. Mention of the insurance situation popped up the next day via his Twitter feed.

More of Haggard's recent tweets have been about attendance than scripture. So is his principal interest saving souls or rebuilding a telegenic empire? Whatever the case, he remains a McLuhanesque figure if ever there was one. His message is the medium, and vice versa.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts