East Of Eden
Jim Bakker in screen captures from his current show, "The Jim Bakker Show". (Google Images)
This has been one long, crazy story. Nearly unbelievable, except, very true. Sadly true. As a Christian, especially as one with roots in Pentecostalism, I felt shame and anger while reading about the exploits of Jim Bakker. Yes, I know I personally have nothing to do with the man or his ministry. But the greed, lies, and corruption is reflected back on the entirety of the Body of Christ. We all look awful to the very world to which we are called to be salt and light.
While reading for this series, I swung by the library and picked up Tammy Faye's 1996 autobiography, Tammy: Telling It My Way. Published in the decade after PTL's fall and about...
Image and caption from PTL.
When PTL fell apart, I was just 5. I didn't know about the sex scandals, but I do remember my parents discussing the Bakkers' outsized lifestyle. The mansions, the cars, the blingy lifestyle- it came up repeatedly. What stuck in my mind, besides how disappointed my mom was (she was a SAHM of 3 and Pentecostal; of course she watched the Bakkers), had to be the air conditioned dog house. We didn't even have AC in our house. We depended on a series of electric fans for three more years, and that little yellow Cape Cod got very hot during the summer months. Yet, their dog chilled in cool comfort. Yup, decades later, I still remember that.
The lobby of the Heritage Grand Hotel. (Photo Credit: Robin...
Jim and Tammy Faye (Image Source)
It was thirty years ago that the tremendous house of cards that Jim Bakker had constructed out of TV ministry, millions in donations, and a Christian theme park, collapsed. It was a tremendous and precipitous fall, and when the dust settled, the ministry was gone, Jim was behind bars, and Tammy divorced him, ending their more thirty year marriage.
But, I'm getting ahead of myself. With the end of Part 1, the Bakkers and PTL was just beginning to get huge. It was the late '70s, and America was primed for some religiosity. The 1960s, that decade of hippies, an ever-burgeoning American middle class, and the collapse of Jim Crow was simultaneously a decade of assasinations, political...
Jim And Tammy Faye Bakker in all their 1980s glory. (Image Source)
I started composing this post months ago. I stopped partially because my blogging, as a whole, slowed way down at the start of the schoolyear (Z is now in second grade, and homeschooling demands more and more time). But mainly, I didn't finish this particular post because reading up on Jim Bakker pulled me into some kind of weird online hole.
Really. Do a quick Google search, and you'll see what I mean.
Complicating things further, Jim is the first subject in this The Preachers series who is actually living (his ex-wife Tammy passed away a decade ago after a long battle with cancer). He's pushing 80, has been in some form of ministry for over half a century...
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