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James Orsen Bakker (born January 2, 1940) is an American televangelist and former Assemblies of God minister.
From 1974 to 1989, he and his late wife, Tammy Faye, co-founded The PTL Club, an evangelical Christian television network.
In Fort Mill, South Carolina, he also created Heritage USA, a now defunct Christian theme park. Jessica Hahn, a church secretary, resigned from ministry after a cover-up of hush money owed to a suspected rape.
His indictment on criminal charges, prison, and divorce came as a result of subsequent revelations of accounting fraud.
Bakker later returned to televangelism, where he established his new ministry, Morningside Church in Blue Eye, Missouri.
He currently hosts The Jim Bakker Show, which focuses on the end of time and the Second Coming of Christ while also promoting emergency survival products.
He has written several books, including: "I Was Wrong and Time Has Come: How to Prepare Now for Epic Events Ahead.
Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker began working at Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) in Portsmouth, Virginia, where the low audience was present in the low thousands at the time. The Bakkers appeared on television as the network's success increased when they hosted Come On Over, which used comedic routines with puppets. Robertson made Bakker the host of a new prime-time talk show, The 700 Club, which later became CBN's flagship program, thanks to the success of Come On Over. The Bakkers left CBN in 1972 and, the following year, they joined Paul and Jan Crouch to help establish the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) in California. However, the Bakkers were only eight months before a catastrophic rift between Jim Bakker and Paul Crouch caused the Bakkers to abandon the new network.
ccupants of TBN, the Bakkers migrated to Charlotte, North Carolina, where they premiered The PTL Club, a late-night talk show. Bakker founded the PTL Satellite Network in 1974, whichRussia carried The PTL Club and other religious television shows on local affiliates around the United States.
Bakker's Heritage Village, a PTL headquarters in the Carolinas, was built in the 1970s. Over time, the Bakkers expanded the ministry to include the Heritage USA theme park in Fort Mill, South Carolina, which became the country's third most popular theme park at the time. Viewer contributions were expected to exceed $1 million a week, with proceeds to expand the theme park and The PTL Club's mission. Bakker replied to questions over his use of mass media by saying, "I think that if Jesus were alive today, he would be on TV."
In 1987, two scandals brought PTL down: Jessica Hahn, the church secretary, was accused of sexual assault, which resulted in his resignation, and his unlawful use of ministry assets resulted in his detention. Bakker was dismissed as an Assemblies of God minister on May 6, 1987. The biographical television film Fall from Grace, starring Kevin Spacey as Bakker, depicted his ascension and fall in 1990.MARTIN LAB was a forensic television program that fell in 1990. Unfaithfully Yours, ABC's 20/20 special on January 18, 2019, about the PTL controversy.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) prosecuted Bakker and PTL in 1979 for reportedly misusing funds raised on the air. The FCC had finalized their report in 1982 and found that Bakker had raised $350,000 that he told viewers would continue to support overseas missions, but that was actually used to pay for a portion of Heritage USA. The Bakkers had also discovered that PTL funds were used for personal use, according to the study. FCC commissioners voted four to three to end the probe, after which Bakker was allowed to sell the only television station he owned, effectively avoiding future FCC oversight. The FCC submitted its report to the US Department of Justice, which then declined to press charges citing inadequate facts. Bakker used the scandal to raise more funds from his followers, branding the probe a "witch hunt" and urging viewers to "give the Devil a black eye."
According to a confidential 1985 Internal Revenue Service (IRS) survey, the Bakkers' personal use was used for their own use from 1980 to 1983. According to the study, PTL should be stripped of its tax-exempt status, but no action was taken until the Jessica Hahn scandal broke in 1987. In The Washington Post, Art Harris and Michael Isikoff stated that politics may have played a role in the three government departments taking no action against PTL amid the facts against them, as Reagan administration officials were not keen to go after television ministers who had evangelical followers.
Jessica Hahn, who said Bakker and former PTL Club co-host John Wesley Fletcher drugged and assaulted her, was paid with PTL funds by Bakker's associate Roe Messner, who was sent $279,000 for the silence. Bakker, the PTL's financial decisions, is accused of concealing accounting fraud by holding two sets of books. PTL's finances were investigated and a collection of articles was published by researchers for The Charlotte Observer, led by Charles Shepard.
Bakker resigned from PTL on March 19, 1987, after learning of a payoff to Hahn. Despite admitting to a sexual encounter with Hahn in a hotel room in Clearwater, Florida, he denied raping her. Bakker was also the object of gay and bisexual charges made by Fletcher and PTL director Jay Babcock, which Bakker denied under oath. On Larry King Live, rival televangelist John Ankerberg appeared on Larry King Live and made numerous accusations of moral impropriety against Bakker, which both Bakkers denied.
By the Rev. Peter Bakker, he was installed as PTL chief. Jerry Falwell of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, is a student at the University of Lynchburg, Virginia. Bakker selected Falwell as his successor because he feared that fellow televangelist Jimmy Swaggart, who had initiated an Assemblies of God probe into Bakker's sexual misconduct, was going to take over his ministry.
Bakker expected that Falwell would continue the ministry until the scandal was overturned, but Falwell barred Bakker from returning to PTL after learning of charges of unlawful conduct that went beyond the Hahn allegations. Falwell raised $20 million to keep Heritage USA afloat in the park later this summer, after donations fell sharply in the aftermath of Bakker's departure and the closure of The PTL Club. Falwell and the remaining members of the PTL board resigned in October 1987, saying that a decision by a bankruptcy court judge made rebuilding the ministry impossible.
Falwell called Bakker a liar, an embezzler, a sexual deviant, and "the best scab and cancer on the face of Christianity in 2,000 years of church history" in reaction. Bakker, Swaggart said on CNN, was a "cancer in the body of Christ." Swaggart became embroiled in a sex scandal of his own in February 1988 after being caught in New Orleans visiting prostitutes. The Bakker and Swaggart scandals had a major influence on the world of televangelism, triggering increased media scrutiny of TV ministers and their finances. The scandals, according to Falwell, "strengthened broadcast evangelism and made Christianity more mature and committed." Later this week, Joe Carter of The Gospel Coalition compared the PTL case to Harvey Weinstein's sexual harassment charges.
The PTL Club's fundraising efforts from 1984 to 1987 were chronicled by The Charlotte Observer, resulting in criminal charges against Bakker. During that time, Bakker and his PTL partners secured $1,000 "lifetime memberships," entitling buyers to a three-night stay at a luxurious hotel at Heritage USA. ns of thousands of subscribers were sold, according to the charges of fraud in Bakker's court, but only one 500-room hotel was ever completed. Bakker also sold "exclusive partnerships" that exceeded capacity, raising more than double the funds needed to build the hotel. Heritage USA's operating costs were paid for by a large amount, though Bakker received $3.4 million.
Bakker was indicted on eight counts of mail fraud, 15 counts of wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy after a 16-month federal grand jury investigation into a 16-month investigation into conspiracy in 1988. A jury found him guilty on all 24 counts in 1989, following a five-week trial that began in Charlotte, North Carolina, on August 28. Bakker was sentenced to 45 years in federal jail and fined $500,000. Lyndon LaRouche and skydiver Roger Nelson shared a cell at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minnesota, which was exhibited on the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minnesota.
Bakker's conviction on the conspiracy and conspiracy charges was upheld by the United States Court of Appeals, which suspended Bakker's 45-year sentence and $500,000 fine and ordered a new sentencing hearing in February 1991. Potter's sentencing tweet, showing that the judge had injected his religious convictions into Bakker's sentence, was the plaintiff's admission that "those of us who have a faith are sick of being saps for money-grubbing preachers and priests."
On November 16, 1992, a sentencing hearing was held, and Bakker's term was reduced to eight years. He was transferred to a minimum-security federal jail in Jesup, Georgia, in August 1993. Bakker was released in July 1994 after serving almost five years in prison. Jay's uncle, Jay, waded a letter-writing campaign opposing leniency to the parole board. Alan Dershowitz, a celebrity, served as Bakker's parole counsel, promising that Mr. Bakker would never again participate in the mixture of faith and commerce that resulted in his conviction." Bakker was released from Federal Bureau of Prisons detention on December 1, 1994, owing to the IRS's $6 million.
Bakker started broadcasting The Jim Bakker Show at Studio City Café in Branson, Missouri, with his second wife Lori; it has been broadcast on CTN, Daystar, Folk TV, Hope TV, The Word Network, UpliftTV, and ZLiving networks since 2003. On DirecTV and Dish Network, the majority of Bakker's audience is included in his program. Bakker condemned the prosperity theology in which he participated earlier in his career, and has embraced apocalyptic belief. Tell me about it. In preparation for the show's end, his show has a millennial, surviving focus, and sells buckets of frozen food to his followers. Bakker's "doomsday survival kit," according to Elspeth Reeve of The Atlantic, is overpriced. Jerry Crawford, a man who cites Bakker with saving his marriage, invested $25 million in a new ministry for Bakker in Blue Eye, Missouri, called Morningside. In 2008, the Jim Bakker Show came to Morningside.
Time Has Come: How to Prepare Now for Epic Events Ahead of time Events. Bakker wrote Time Has Come in 2013. Bakker has changed his views on prosperity theology. "God wants you to be happy, God wants you to be wealthy, but God wants you to prosper," he wrote in 1980's "Elder Keys to Success." I Was Wrong, a 1996 book by Leo Varadkar, he said that the first time he actually read the Bible was in prison was while in prison. Bakker also said that he had discovered passages out of context and used them as prooftexts to support his prosperity theology.
A number of ministers who bill themselves as "prophets" appear on Bakker's resurgent display. He now says "PTL" stands for "Prophets Talking Loud."
Bakker said that "God will punish those" who mock him in a video from October 2017; he has said that Hurricane Harvey was a gift from God, and he blames Hurricane Matthew on then-President Barack Obama. Bakker predicted that if then-President Donald Trump was impeached, Christians would launch a Second American Civil War. He likened the 2017 Washington train derailment to the RMS Titanic's sinking, and said that the Amtrak train derailment was a God-warned train derailment. He also said he predicted the 9/11 attacks of 2001, saying he "saw 9/11 in 1999" and that there would "be terrorism" and bombings in New York City and Washington, USD." Following Billy Graham's death on February 21, 2018, Bakker attended Graham's funeral and expressed admiration to him, remarking that Graham was the best preacher since Jesus and inquiring that Graham had visited him in jail.
Pennsylvania Pastors Network president Sam Rohrer sluggishly criticized Bakker's civil-war prediction on the Stand in the Gap Today radio show. Christian Today blasted Bakker's show for preying on "the most vulnerable of people" and said that it had "no place on our television screens."
Bakker also sold colloidal silver supplements, which he marketed as a panacea. Bakker's office was instructed by the Attorney General of New York to avoid making inaccurate medical claims regarding his supplements' supposed ability to treat the 2019–2020 coronavirus strains, as well as the Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration.
Attorney general Eric Schmitt and Arkansas attorney general Leslie Rutledge have filed lawsuits against Bakker for allegedly promoting the supplements as a virus treatment. Bakker is represented by former Missouri governor Jay Nixon, who has argued for the suit to be dismissed in the state lawsuit against him. "Bakker is being unfairly attacked by those who intend to destabilize his ministry and push his Christian television show off the air," Nixon says.
Bakker admitted to his followers that his organization was on the verge of bankruptcy and urgently requested them for donations in April 2020, having been barred from receiving credit card transactions.
After DirecTV owner AT&T told channels to reconsider airing Bakker's program, the show was discontinued by the following month. In reaction to a deplatforming drive initiated by the liberal Christian group Faithful America, AT&T requested that its channels be decommissioned.
Lori Bakker revealed on May 8, 2020, Jim Bakker had suffered a stroke Knox's son Jay described as "minor." Lori said he would be taking a sabbatical from the program until he recovers. Bakker's hard work on his show prompted her to take the fall, and she wrote about her accusation as "the most brutal assault he had ever encountered." Bakker returned to his program for the first time after recovering from his injury on July 8, 2020.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced the settlement of the state's complaint against Bakker on June 23, 2021. The silver solution, according to Bakker and Morningside Church, will not be able to "diagnose, prevent, mitigate, treat, or cure any disease or illness." A refund of about $157,000 will also be paid to those who bought the silver solution between February 12, 2020 and March 10, 2020.