American televangelist and convicted con man James Orsen Bakker was born on January 2, 1940. Bakker and his then-wife Tammy Faye presented the religious talk show The PTL Club from 1974 until 1987 on the cable channel PTL Satellite Network.
In Fort Mill, South Carolina, he created Heritage USA, a Christian theme park that has since closed. Bakker resigned from the PTL ministry in the late 1980s when church secretary Jessica Hahn accused him of rape and he paid her to be quiet.
After the accounting fraud was s*xposed, criminal charges, a conviction, jail time, and a breakup followed. Bakker remarried, resumed his televangelism career, and established Morningside Church and the PTL ministry in Blue Eye, Missouri.
He presently broadcasts The Jim Bakker Show, which promotes emergency survival supplies through discussions of the end of the world and the return of Christ. Among Bakker’s many works are I Was Wrong and Time Has Come: How to Prepare Now for Epic Events Ahead.
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Jim Bakker Personal Life
Born in Muskegon, Michigan, to parents Raleigh Bakker and Furnia Lynette “Furn” Irwin James Orsen Bakker. In 1960, Bakker and Tammy Faye LaValley met as students at North Central University, an Assemblies of God-affiliated bible college in Minneapolis. Tammy Faye worked at the adjacent Three Sisters shop, and Bakker tended bar at the Young-Quinlan department store in Minneapolis.
After being married on April 1, 1961, the Bakkers dropped out of school to pursue a career as traveling evangelists. Two children were born to them: Tammy Sue Bakker Chapman (born March 2, 1970), who they affectionately called “Sissy,” and Jamie Charles Bakker Chapman, who they called “Jay” (born December 18, 1975). On March 13, 1992, the couple officially separated. 50 days after meeting Lori Beth Graham, a former televangelist, Bakker wed her on September 4, 1998. They adopted five kids in 2002.
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Jim Bakker’s Career
Both Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker got their start in the media industry in 1966 when they joined Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) in Portsmouth, Virginia (which at the time had a few thousand viewers). The Bakkers were instrumental in expanding the network through the success of their children’s variety show Come On Over, which featured skits including puppets and other forms of comedy.
Robertson named Bakker the host of a new prime-time talk show, The 700 Club, which eventually became CBN’s main program after the success of Come On Over. After leaving CBN in 1972, the Bakkers helped found the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) in California the following year with Paul and Jan Crouch. However, after only eight months of working together, the Bakkers parted ways with the new network due to tensions between Jim Bakker and Paul Crouch.
In 1979, the FCC began looking into Bakker and PTL for possible improper use of broadcast fundraising. The FCC report, completed in 1982, found that the Bakkers had utilized PTL cash for personal costs and that Bakker had gathered $350,000 that he promised viewers would go towards funding international missions but that was used to pay for part of Heritage USA. The investigation was dropped by a vote of four to three by the FCC’s commissioners, and Bakker was then permitted to sell the only television station he owned to avoid future FCC scrutiny.
As a result of the FCC’s findings, the United States has been informed. Justice Department decided not to file charges due to a lack of proof. Bakker called the probe a “witch-hunt” and urged his viewers to “give the Devil a black eye” to increase his audience’s donations. From 1980 to 1983, the Bakkers spent $1.3 million in ministry finances for their profit, according to a private Internal Revenue Service (IRS) study released in 1985.
However, the report’s recommendation that PTL loses its tax-exempt status was not acted upon until after the Jessica Hahn scandal emerged in 1987. Politics may have played a role in the three government agencies not taking action against PTL despite the evidence against them, as members of the Reagan administration were not eager to go after television ministers whose evangelical followers made up their base, as Art Harris and Michael Isikoff wrote in The Washington Post.
Was Jim Bakker Gay?
After having s*x with Jim Bakker in 1987, Jay Babcock, then the head of creative television for PTL (The PTL Club, better known as The Jim and Tammy Show), revealed as much at a grand jury meeting in Charlotte. He was the first person to admit to a grand jury that he and Bakker had a homos*xual relationship. Meanwhile, Bakker has reportedly denied to United Press International that he has been in a homos*xual relationship.
Bakker swore that he had never been in a homos*xual relationship. In a later interview, Babcock admitted that he and Jim had s*xual encounters but stood by his earlier denial of discussing the details in the press conference. Before Babcock’s accusations, there were already multiple reports that Jim Bakker had a gay affair.
In May 1987, the Reverend Jerry Falwell reportedly alerted authorities that Bakker had made a homos*xual advance on Gary Smith, the former general manager of PTL. Falwell, who took over as head of the ministry after the Bakkers resigned, said in an interview that the Bakkers were unfit to lead PTL because Jim was gay and that Tammy Faye had demanded several things in exchange for calling off their return to the ministry, including a large annual salary, two cars, a maid for a year, and a furnished house on a lake.
There wasn’t enough proof that Jim Bakker was gay for anyone to make that call. Two weddings to the same woman and a seemingly happy married life suggest he is straight for the time being. There were enough controversies in the ’80s to tell he was bis*xual.
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