A Brief History
On March 19, 1987, under fire for sex and financial irregularities the star of one of television’s most popular evangelist Christian shows resigned!
Digging deeper, we find Jim Bakker, star of The PTL Club in hot water for allegedly raping a show secretary, Jessica Hahn, and paying her $279,000 in hush money.
If that was not cracked enough, questions quickly were raised about other aspects of misuse of charitable donations and fraudulent fund raising. Bakker and his wife, famously over-made up Tammy Faye Bakker had been living like royalty, spending millions of dollars on an opulent lifestyle. As Bakker was forced to resign and the money train was apparently derailed, Tammy Faye filed for divorce from Bakker in 1992 while Jim was in prison. Having been sentenced to 45 years in prison for wire fraud, conspiracy and mail fraud, Bakker later won a recommencing when it was ruled the sentencing judge had personally used his own religious faith in his outrage at Bakker’s fleecing of his flock. Bakker’s sentence was changed to 8 years, of which he served 5.
A sideshow to this phony “Christian” is that his successor to head the PTL, Jerry Falwell, called Bakker “the greatest scab and cancer on the face of Christianity” as well as an embezzler, sexual deviant and liar. Bakker had apparently thought Falwell would somehow help rehabilitate Bakker’s image! Not!
Not surprisingly, Bakker had a miraculous transformation in prison and “read the bible for the first time” coming to the conclusion that his previous theories about prosperity and theology were wrong, publishing a book in 1996 titled appropriately, I Was Wrong. (No kidding!)
Incredibly, this story continues today with Bakker broadcasting a satellite television show from Missouri. Somehow in reaching enlightenment Jim Bakker has somehow missed the part where he should pay the IRS the $6 million he still owes!
Tammy Faye had avoided jail (Why? How?) and remarried, and her second husband also went to prison, this time for bankruptcy fraud. Once again, this woman avoided jail, and died in 2007 of cancer at age 65, but lives on in films The Eyes of Tammy Fayeand Tammy Faye: Death Defying. Tammy Faye also appeared on the Drew Carey Show as Mimi’s mom and on the VH1 reality show, The Surreal Life, with rapper Vanilla Ice and former CHiPs star Erik Estrada, among others!
Even Jessica Hahn got in the act, so to speak, and appeared in Playboy magazine as well as several television shows and movies.
Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker ripped off well meaning Christians for millions of dollars while living the high life. Question for students (and subscribers): Should the government take a stricter look at multi-million dollar charities and the lavish lifestyle of their executives? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, see…
Albert, James. Jim Bakker: Miscarriage of Justice? Open Court, 1999.
Bakker, Jim. I Was Wrong: The Untold Story of the Shocking Journey from PTL Power to Prison and Beyond. Thomas Nelson, 1997.
Shepard, Charles E. Forgiven: The Rise and Fall of Jim Bakker and the Ptl Ministry. Atlantic Monthly Pr, 1989.