James Orsen Bakker (born January 2, 1940) is, unfortunately, an American televangelist, a purveyor of overpriced buckets of freeze-dried end times food, a former, loosely defined, minister and a former host (with his then-wife Tammy Faye Bakker) of The PTL Club, an evangelical Christian television program. Let’s assume that PTL stood for Pay the Liars, because that’s really all these people want.
An accusation of rape, which is totally believable, made by his secretary led to his resignation from the ministry. Subsequent revelations of accounting fraud brought about his imprisonment and divorce because he is a crap person and no amount of religion can change that. He later remarried some idiot and returned to televangelism because he likes money.
Bakker was born in Muskegon, Michigan, the son of Raleigh Bakker and Furnia Lynette “Furn” Irwin. Essentially, he was born into a family that had a lot of problems spelling. Bakker attended North Central University, a Bible college affiliated with the Assemblies of God, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and which charges out the ass for a subpar education, where in 1960 he met fellow student Tammy Faye LaValley, whose family also couldn’t spell. They were a match made in heaven – see what I did there? He worked at a restaurant inside the Young-Quinlan Department Store in Minneapolis, and she had a job at a nearby boutique called The Three Sisters.
On April 1, 1961, Bakker and Tammy Faye married. They left the Bible college to become evangelists (see also: people who like to get rich by telling old religious folk that their reward will be tenfold in heaven just as long as they sign over their pensions). They had two children, Tammy Sue “Sissy” Bakker Chapman (born March 2, 1970) and Jamie Charles “Jay” Bakker (born December 18, 1975). Jim and Tammy Bakker divorced on March 13, 1992.
In 1966, the Bakkers began working at Pat Robertson's (see also: another dishonest and horrible scumbag who hates women and education) Christian Broadcasting Network, which at the time barely reached an audience of thousands and we all wish that it had stayed this way. The Bakkers greatly contributed to the growth of the network with their lying and money-grubbing, and their success with a variety show format (including interviews and puppets to appeal to dumb people so they could make crap tons of money off them) helped make The 700 Club one of the longest-running and most successful televangelism programs. But was it successful, really? The Jim and Tammy Show was broadcast for a few years from their Portsmouth, Virginia, studio and was aimed at young children – Surprisingly, the Bakkers were not arrested for their mistreatment of children. The Bakkers then left for California in the early 1970s even though California probably didn’t want those losers.
Teaming with their former youth pastors Paul and Jan Crouch (more garbage people), the Bakkers created the “Pay the Liars” show for the Crouches' and Bakker's new Trinity Broadcasting Network in California. While that relationship lasted only about a year, this time the Bakkers retained the rights to use the initials PTL and traveled east to Charlotte, North Carolina, to begin their own show, The PTL Club. Their show grew quickly, because people in North Carolina just love themselves some Jesus, until it was carried by close to a hundred stations, with average viewers numbering over twelve million, and the Bakkers had established their own network, The PTL Television Network (also known as PTL-The Inspirational Network – Liars Inspiring People to Pay Them). They attributed much of their success to decisions early on to accept all denominations and to refuse no one’s money regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation, or criminal record.
By the early 1980s, the Bakkers had built Heritage USA in Fort Mill, South Carolina (south of Charlotte), then the third most successful theme park for WASPs in the U.S., and a satellite system to distribute their network 24 hours a day across the country which was a crime against humanity. Contributions requested from viewers were estimated to exceed $1,000,000 a week, with proceeds to go to expanding the theme park and the Bakkers’ wallets. In justifying his use of the mass media, Bakker responded to inquiries by likening his use of television to Jesus's use of the amphitheater of the time. “I believe that if Jesus were alive today, he would be on TV,” Bakker said – forgetting that Jesus wanted prayer to be in private and not to be audacious.
In their unfortunate success, the Bakkers took conspicuous consumption to an unusual level for a nonprofit organization because they were greedy “soul-soliciting” pigs. In an April 23, 1990 New Yorker article, Frances FitzGerald quoted Dave Barry, who wrote “they personified the most characteristic excesses of the nineteen-eighties—the greed, the love of glitz, and the shamelessness—which in their case were so pure as to almost amount to a kind of innocence.” And also, probably copious amounts of cocaine.
Jim Bakker was dismissed as a minister of the Assemblies of God on May 6, 1987 and we all wish that would have been the end of it.
Life of Crime
There’s always a crime and controversy section on wiki articles for televangelist slimeballs. The PTL Club's fundraising activities between 1984–1987 were scrutinized by The Charlotte Observer newspaper as being a bunch of dummy-swindling stupidity, eventually leading to criminal charges against Jim Bakker. From 1984 to 1987, Bakker and his PTL associates sold $1,000 “lifetime memberships,” which entitled buyers to a three-night stay annually at a luxury hotel at Heritage USA, which was likely not that luxurious and probably segregated by gender for unmarried couples. According to the prosecution at Bakker's later fraud trial, tens of thousands of memberships had been sold, but only one 500-room hotel was ever completed because JimBakker is a habitual liar. Bakker sold more “exclusive partnerships” than could be accommodated, while raising more than twice the money needed to build the actual hotel. A good deal of the money went into Heritage USA's operating expenses, and Bakker kept $3.4 million in bonuses for himself, in the hopes that he could spend it all on his deathbed and still get into heaven. A $279,000 pay-off for the silence of Jessica Hahn who claims Bakker and Fletcher drugged and raped her was paid with PTL's funds to Hahn through Bakker associate Roe Messner. Remove the word “claims” from the prior sentence to discover what actually happened.
Bakker, who made all of the financial decisions for the PTL organization, allegedly kept two sets of books to conceal the accounting irregularities because, once again, he is a garbage liar man. Reporters from The Charlotte Observer, led by Charles Shepard, investigated and published a series of articles regarding the PTL organization's totally fake finances.
On March 19, 1987, following the revelation of a pay-off to Hahn, Bakker resigned from PTL. Bakker acknowledged he met Hahn at a hotel room in Clearwater, Florida, but denied raping her except he totally did because he’s a creepy rapey man. Following Bakker's resignation as PTL head, he was succeeded in late March 1987, by Jerry Falwell – you know, that scumbag who created a fake university in Virginia that has never offered a legitimate science course. Later that summer, as donations sharply declined in the wake of Bakker's resignation and the end of the Bakkers' popular PTL Club TV show, because rape, Falwell raised $20 million to help keep the Heritage USA Theme Park solvent, including a well-publicized water slide plunge there. Let’s hope there was holy water flowing down that water slide!
Falwell, being horrible and gross himself called Bakker a liar, an embezzler, a sexual deviant, and “the greatest scab and cancer on the face of Christianity in 2,000 years of church history” because he wanted to save face to keep taking money from poor, uneducated, less-fortunate people. In 1988, Falwell said that the Bakker scandal had “strengthened broadcast evangelism and made Christianity stronger, more mature and more committed”, which was a big fat Donald Trump-like lie. The same year Jim Bakker left PTL, a Pastor, Rev. Edward J. Brown who was at that time living in Atlanta GA, and a member of Bishop Earl Paulks Church, Chapel Hill Harvester Church; which would later become a home for Jay Bakker as he was taken in by founding Pastors Don and Clariece Paulk. Jay lived in their home and was raised and loved as though he was their son. Rev. Ed Brown made national news when it got out to the media that he had met with Jim Bakker and others to inform Jim that Rev. Brown and some other men had the ability to come up with the millions it would take to purchase PTL back, get rid of Jerry, hold it, and keep it going for Jim and Tammy. They agreed. Rev. Brown flew out of the US to get the funds needed and returned only to be told by Falwell that the price was now double. Rev. Brown made another trip and came back with the money, only to be told that it doubled again. Jerry Falwell had no intentions of taking money for what he saw as his keys to the TV network that could give him an unlimited stream of income. Bakker's son, Jay, wrote in 2001 that the Bakkers felt betrayed by Falwell, whom they thought, at the time of Bakker's resignation, intended to help in Bakker's eventual restoration as head of the PTL ministry organization.
Fraud Conviction and Inevitable Incarceration
Following a 16-month Federal grand jury probe, Bakker was indicted in 1988 on eight counts of mail fraud, 15 counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to tell lies and steal from people. In 1989, after a five-week trial which began on August 28 in Charlotte, the jury found him guilty on all 24 counts, and Judge Robert Daniel Potter sentenced him to 45 years in federal prison and a $500,000 fine. He served time in the Federal Medical Center, Rochester, in Rochester, Minnesota.
In February 1991, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld Bakker's conviction on the fraud and conspiracy charges, but voided Bakker's 45-year sentence, as well as the $500,000 fine, and ordered that a new sentencing hearing be held. The court held that Potter's statement at sentencing that Bakker's actions resulted in “those of us who do have a religion” being lampooned as “saps from money-grubbing preachers or priests” was evidence that he had injected his own religious beliefs into considering Bakker's sentence.
On November 16, 1992, a sentence reduction hearing was held. Bakker's sentence was reduced to eight years, which was a crime in itself. Are you really still reading this? Stop giving this piece of moldy dog poop your attention. Go read a book or something.