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Jim Bakker

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Tammy and Jim in the good ol' days
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Devil's in the details
… make not my Father's house an house of merchandise.
John 2:16
Jesus Thinks You're A Jerk.
Frank Zappa[1]
Jim Bakker spells his name with two k's because three would be too obvious
—Bill Maher[2]:105

James Orsen Bakker (1940–) is a disgraced American televangelist from the PTL Club (which stands for Praise The Lord, Pass The Loot, or Pay The Lady). Bakker came up with a vague claim that unspecified people were threatening to kill him for believing in the Bible.[3] The exact nature of the allegations remain unclear.[4] Bakker now runs a generic conspiracy television show, hawking survivalist junk to paranoid conspiracy theorists.

The network[edit]

Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker (1942–2007) got their start in television on Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network in 1966 with "The Jim and Tammy Show". By the early 1970s they had left CBN to help Paul Crouch get his fledgling California-based Trinity Broadcasting Network and their show "Praise the Lord" off the ground, then left for North Carolina to start their own show, the "PTL Club". This eventually became the PTL Network. PTL became the home network of such evangelists as Richard Dortch and John Wesley Fletcher, most of them associated with the Assemblies of God, a Pentecostal denomination. He also built a Christian amusement park in South Carolina, Heritage USA.

Unlike many televangelists, the Bakkers made a point of keeping religious right politics off their show and instead preached a gospel of self-esteem and acceptance, but also one promoting conspicuous consumption and teaching that God wants everyone to be rich and healthy, often called the "prosperity gospel" and derided by critics as name it and claim it.

The scandal[edit]

Jim Bakker is best known for an adultery scandal in which Bakker and Fletcher committed adultery with a church secretary in 1980 and then arranged a payment to keep her quiet. Not only that, but Fletcher admitted to having sex with Bakker as well.[5] The scandal broke in March 1987 after the revelations were made public by rival evangelists, John Ankerberg and Jimmy Swaggart. Swaggart's own televangelism empire would collapse soon after Bakker's after he was caught soliciting sex from a prostitute. Jim Bakker turned control of PTL over to Jerry Falwell during the scandal, saying Falwell was the only person he trusted at the time, only to see Falwell do a hostile takeover and shut the Bakkers out of the ministry. Soon after, Jim Bakker was indicted in 1988 and found guilty on counts of mail and wire fraud related to his sale of memberships in Heritage USA.[6][7] Bakker condescended to forgive those who helped send him to prison as if they were at fault. Of course Bakker broke the law.[8]

His amusement park, Heritage USA, after failing under Falwell's watch and closing in 1989, was bought by evangelist Morris Cerullo. Cerullo's plans to reopen it were mired in legal disputes with a Malaysian investment group who won control of the park in court. Only the hotel ever reopened though — briefly, as a Radisson hotel — only to close again. Today the former park has been split into several residential developments and a religious retreat. The former PTL Network was relaunched by Cerullo in 1990 as the Inspiration Network.

Return to preaching[edit]

The set of The Jim Bakker Show… holy fuck!

Learning a lesson from Jimmy Swaggart, who was widely ridiculed when he went on TV right after his adultery scandal to give a phony display of "LOOOORRRRDDDD, I have sinnnnned against theeeee!" hyperemotionalism and then insisting on returning to the ministry as if nothing had happened, Jim Bakker waited several years to attempt his own comeback. He did it with a much slicker version of Swaggart's comeback, in the form of Bakker's book I Was Wrong, written in a carefully calculated way to redeem Bakker's reputation. Predictably, he then returned to preaching.

If you don’t want to hear it, just shut me off. Especially you folks that monitor me every day to try to destroy me. Just go away. You don't have to be there, you don't have to hear it. But one day, you're going to shake your fist in God's face and you're going to say, 'God, why didn’t you warn me?' And He's going say, 'You sat there and you made fun of Jim Bakker all those years. I warned you but you didn't listen.'
—Jim Bakker[9]

I Was Wrong[edit]

Jim Bakker in 2017: Still wrong

Jim Bakker was the author of quite a number of books during PTL's heyday, all of them all but forgotten. His best known and regarded book is I Was Wrong, published in 1996, nearly a decade after the scandal. I Was Wrong is in part about Bakker coming to reject the "name it and claim it" or "prosperity" theology he once preached. He seems to give a sanitised version of the sex scandal though, admitting to an affair with the church secretary but denying some of the more lurid allegations made about the scandal. Jerry Falwell, in particular, is portrayed as an untrustworthy backstabber in the book and in general is not shown in a good light. Where the book is most interesting is Bakker's description of his time in prison, including some fascinating insights into two of his cellmates while in prison, controversial fringe politician Lyndon LaRouche and famed skydiver Roger Nelson.

Various crankery for sale[edit]

See the main articles on this topic: Crank and Survivalism
$450 for this shit?[10] It's not even a good likeness.

Bakker now runs a generic conspiracy show of the end times, most well known for selling buckets of slop potato soup at $160 for over 300 servings.[11] Those giant buckets will not alone keep people alive during a crisis. Humans need fresh food to provide vitamins. Anyone eating food from those buckets and nothing else would die of vitamin C deficiencyWikipedia within months. The substances in the buckets are also revolting ("…it didn’t take too many test meals before I’d resolved myself to an existence of scavenging and cannibalism in the event of a real apocalypse.").[12]

The colloidal silver that Bakker pushes does not provide any essential vitamins, and may make you look like a SmurfWikipedia.[13][14]

Bakker's colleague and fellow-crank, Lance Wallnau, has been bilking the credulous based on the claim that Donald Trump is the profit prophet. For the incredibly low discount price of $450 one can get:[15][10]

  1. A crap gold electro-plated "coin" that superimposes Trump over some random bearded dude Cyrus the Great (obverse) and that quotes Isaiah 45:1 (reverse). Too bad that this Bible verse was already used for a false prophecy (that Persians would breach Babylon's gates).
  2. A Trump booklet, and
  3. A Wallnau DVD ("Current events predict the rise of 'sheep' and 'goat' nations.").

Bakker claims that his bullshit colloidal silver-ish-sounding "Optivida Silver Solution" (starter kit: $125)[16] is pretty much the cure for all diseases known to man. For instance, one particular sales pitch hawked that it "kill(s) venereal diseases! All kinds–all of them!"[17] Bakker claims that the solution "has no real side effects that we know of." (We beg to differ — this "solution" has the unfortunate "side effect" of depleting your bank account in order to fill the pockets of a woo-pushing scammer.)

Not content to let QAnon hawk all the bullshit cures (like MMS) for the COVID-19 pandemic, Bakker, together with Sherrill Sellman (a "leading voice in women's holistic health and wellness"[18] whose website heavily promotes hemp woo supplements[19] and other strange supplements such as a $106.40 "unique combination of broccoli ingredients" for breast health[20] and a detox supplement that causes "homeopathic tonification of the organ systems and promotes drainage of the excretory pathwaysWikipedia"[21][note 1]), hawked this silver solution as something that "totally eliminated, deactivated" the coronavirus "within 12 hours" and then "boosts your immune system" to "support the recovery" because "when you kill the virus, the immune system comes into action to clear it out".[22] Reality is, the only possible effect of this time tested scam product (with over a quarter of century of scamming history) is that, if it really does have silver in it, it's possible to develop a case of argyriaWikipedia (i.e., as noted, it may make you look like a Smurf).[23][24]

Hawking harmful scams during a deadly pandemic was a bridge too far for government officials and other major businesses. During the month of March in 2020, Jim Bakker received orders from the FTCWikipedia and FDA to pull the collodial silver product,[25] and was sued by the attorney generals of New York, Arkansas, and Missouri for false advertising and misleading claims.[26][27][28] In April 2020, Bakker revealed that he was dropped by all credit card payment providers for being a scamming dipshit, forcing Bakker to beg for checks.[29] Bakker's attorney responded to the accusations by calling the lawsuits “an affront to religious freedom and the right of church members to freely associate without fear of heavy-handed intrusion or harassment” by government officials. (Apparently in the mind of Bakker and associates, "religious freedom" somehow is equivalent to "freedom to hawk bullshit 'cures' for COVID-19 that do nothing except make you look like a Smurf".)[30]

Despite being under investigation by multiple federal and state investigators for pushing fake COVID-19 cures on his television show, in April 2020, Bakker's various companies applied for and received between US$650 thousand and US$1.7 million in pandemic hardship loans from the United States Government. As usual, he said that the various investigations were infringing on his religious freedom and First Amendment rights.[31]

General silliness[edit]

God was angry about a US presidential eulogy at a funeral of a former Israeli prime minister that Bakker did not fully approve. So God sent a hurricane that killed random people — mostly in Haiti — as punishment.[32]

Some of those who oppose Donald Trump are demon possessed and have demons coming out of their eyes.[33]

A suicide bombing in Manchester, England killed 22 and injured 59, some seriously.[34] Bakker claims the victims brought it on themselves because they attended the concert where the bombing happened and the title, "Dangerous Women Tour" somehow mocked God. Victims included children.[35]

Bakker claimed that if Donald Trump is impeached from office, Christians would rise up and start a civil war.[36] He was wrong twice on this one! He has also claimed that the Trump presidency is God testing Christians' faith because it is.[37]

Christian extraterrestrials[edit]

In 2021, Bakker hosted fellow crank evangelist Sharon Gilbert, who claimed that a reptile impersonated her husband in bed and tried to have sex with her.[38][39] This was not the first time that Bakker got involved in Christian alienism: He's been selling Christian alien books since at least 2020.[40]

Tammy Faye[edit]

Tammy Faye Messner in 2004

His wife and PTL co-host Tammy Faye Bakker divorced him in 1992 after the scandal, and married megachurch building contractor Roe Messner (who was also the building contractor for Heritage USA) in 1993. Roe Messner was himself convicted of bankruptcy fraud in 1996. Tammy Faye Messner gained a sympathetic reputation and cult following from her book Telling It My Way (1996) and documentary film The Eyes of Tammy Faye (1999). Unlike virtually all other televangelists, Tammy Faye was actually rather accepting towards the LGBT community, HIV/AIDS victims and drug addicts, and around the turn of the millennium she attained a new status as a gay icon.[41] She remained married to Roe Messner, until her death in 2007 following a struggle with cancer.


  • Bakker, Jim. I Was Wrong. Thomas Nelson, 1996.
  • Messner, Tammy Faye. Tammy: Telling It My Way. Villard, 1996.
  • Miles, Austin. Don't Call Me Brother. Prometheus Books, 1989. A rather gossipy insider's look at Bakker, PTL, and the Assemblies of God from a disgruntled former AofG minister. Unfortunately, the intrigue seems to revolve around the author's two ex-wives and the FBI as much as it does Bakker and PTL, and as a result much of the book comes across as either sour grapes or conspiracy theory. Flawed, but still an essential piece of the Bakker puzzle for those interested.

See also[edit]

External Links[edit]


  1. Whoever threw the ingredients list together for "whole body detox liquescence" must have been having some fun that day, with many of the ingredients ("Liver 6X, Lymph 6X, Kidney 6X, Spleen 6X, Brain 6X, Thyroid 6X, Adrenal 6X, Lung 6X, Heart 6X, Intestine 6X") seeming to more resemble how you might describe a Slim GoodbodyWikipedia costume than anything that would be in a supplement.


  1. Jesus Thinks You're A Jerk Wiki Jawaka.
  2. The nastiest things ever said about Republicans by Martin Higgins
  3. Jim Bakker: People Are Trying To Kill Me For Believing The Bible
  4. Televangelist Jim Bakker: People Are Trying to Kill Me Because I Believe in the Bible
  5. Editors: note nature;NEWLN:Fletcher says he was Bakker's male prostitute by UPI Archives, December 4, 1988, UPI
  6. U.S. v. Bakker, (C.A.4, 1991), 925 F.2d 728, 740, case no. 89-5687
  7. Religion: Jim Bakker's Crumbling World
  8. Televangelist Jim Bakker Forgave the People Who Put Him in Jail… Even Though He Was Guilty
  9. Jim Bakker Says We Will Answer To God One Day Because We 'Made Fun Of Jim Bakker All Those Years' by Kyle Mantyla (October 16, 2017 1:51 pm) Right Wing Watch.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Lance Wallnau sells $45 'Trump Coin' on 'Jim Bakker Show,' says it’s 'point of contact' with God by Jeannie Law (May 17, 2019) Christian Post (archived from June 30, 2019). Note that since this scam was first announced for "only" $45, the price quickly increased tenfold because of "backorders".
  11. Doomsday prepper Jim Bakker swears you’ll love his $160 potato soup bucket
  12. I Tried to Live Off Jim Bakker's Disgusting Apocalypse Food: The disgraced televangelist is back on TV, this time hocking doomsday prepper food. by Justin Caffier (June 4, 2018, 12:15pm) Vice.
  13. Silver Solution Jim Bakker Show (archived from June 30, 2019).
  14. Silver Solution Liquid 12ppm — Immune Support Supplement by Activz (3 Pack) — 16 oz Bottles, showing that the ingredient is indeed silver (archived from June 30, 2019).
  15. 13 Cyrus Trump Bundle The Jim Bakker Show (archived from May 28, 2019).
  16. "Optivida Silver Sol Starter Kit", product page,, archived on 23 Feb 2020
  17. "Bakker Still Sells Gel That He Says Cures Venereal Diseases (“All of Them!”)" by Hemant Mehta, Friendly Atheist, 2019 August 17
  18. Sherrill Sellman profile,, archived on 23 February 2020
  19. product page, search for hemp products, archived on 23 Feb 2020
  20. "Optimal Breast Health Program Package", product page, store, archived on 2020 February 22
  21. "Whole Body Detox Liquescence", Product Page, Dr. SherillSellman.Com store, archived on 23 February 2020
  22. "Disgraced Televangelist Jim Bakker Now Hawking Product That Claims to ‘Kill’ or ‘Deactivate’ Coronavirus, SARS, and HIV" by Reed Richardson,, 2020 February 15
  23. "Colloidal Silver: Risk Without Benefit" by Stephen Barrett, M.D., Quackwatch
  24. "Colloidal silver has not been shown effective against new virus from China" by Beatrice Dupuy, AP News, 2020 Februrary 14
  25. "FDA, FTC warn 'Jim Bakker Show,' six others to stop selling fraudulent coronavirus drugs" by Mike Snider, USA Today, 2020 March 9
  26. "A disgraced televangelist promoted an alleged cure to coronavirus. Missouri is now suing him." by Meagan Flynn, Washington Post, 2020 March 11
  27. "N.Y. attorney general to televangelist Jim Bakker: Stop peddling unproven coronavirus cures" by Julie Zauzmer, Washington Post, 2020 March 5
  28. "Eight days after Jim Bakker sues Arkansas, Arkansas sues televangelist" by Gregory J. Holman, Springfield News Leader, 2020 May 21
  29. "Desperate Times For Jim Bakker" by Kyle Mantyla, Right Wing Watch, 2020 April 14
  30. "Televangelist Jim Bakker Suing Several Agencies Over Demands of Records" by Parker Padgett, KTTS, 2020 June 8
  31. Sally Stapleton, Jim Bakker gets PPP loans during legal fight on fraud claims. ABC News, 24 August 2020.
  32. Jim Bakker Is So, So Sad Obama Had To Go and Cause Hurricane Matthew
  33. Televangelist Jim Bakker: Donald Trump’s Critics (Even the Republicans) Look “Demon-Possessed”
  34. Manchester attack: 22 dead and 59 hurt in suicide bombing
  35. Jim Bakker: Manchester Victims ‘Literally Invited’ The Attack And ‘Almost Cursed Themselves’ By Attending Ariana Grande Concert
  36. Televangelist Jim Bakker: Christians will start a civil war if Trump is impeached
  37. Jim Bakker: God Is Using Trump To Test Your Faith In The Lord
  38. Preacher claims extraterrestrial reptile masked as her husband tried to have sex with her by Kate Gill (December 2021) The Independent.
  39. End Times Preacher: Reptile Alien Imitating My Husband Tried to Sleep with Me by Hemant Mehta (November 23, 2021) The Friendly Atheist.
  40. The Coming Great Deception Bundle The Jim Bakker Show (archived from August 4, 2020).
  41. Camhi, Leslie (August 4, 2000). "At 10 she found God. At 16 she found make-up. And the two have never left her". The Guardian. 

[Category:Completely heterosexual]]