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Jim Bakker

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Title: Jim Bakker  
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Subject: PTL Satellite Network, MUI Group, Bill Ritter (journalist), April 1961, List of defunct television networks in the United States
Collection: 1940 Births, American Assemblies of God Pastors, American Evangelicals, American Fraudsters, American People Convicted of Fraud, American People Convicted of Tax Crimes, American People of Dutch Descent, American People of German Descent, American Television Evangelists, Living People, Members of the Clergy Convicted of Fraud, Members of the Clergy with Criminal Convictions, North Central University Alumni, People from Charlotte, North Carolina, People from Muskegon, Michigan, Protestant Religious Leaders with Criminal Convictions, Religious Scandals
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Jim Bakker

Jim Bakker
Born James Orsen Bakker
(1940-01-02) January 2, 1940
Muskegon, Michigan, USA
Spouse(s) Tammy Faye Bakker (1961–1992) (divorce)
Lori Graham Bakker (1998–present)
Children Tammy Sue Bakker Chapman
Jamie Charles "Jay" Bakker
Church Assemblies of God
Congregations served
The PTL Club
Heritage USA
Heritage Village Church
Morningside Church

James Orsen "Jim" Bakker (pronounced "Baker"; born January 2, 1940) is an American televangelist, a former Assemblies of God minister and a former host (with his then-wife Tammy Faye Bakker) of The PTL Club, a popular evangelical Christian television program.

A sex scandal led to his resignation from the ministry. Subsequent revelations of accounting fraud brought about his imprisonment and divorce. He later remarried and returned to televangelism.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
  • Scandals 3
  • Fraud conviction and incarceration 4
  • Philosophy 5
  • Later career 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early life

Bakker was born in Muskegon, Michigan, the son of Raleigh Bakker and Furnia Lynette "Furn" Irwin.[1][2] Bakker attended North Central University, a Bible college affiliated with the Assemblies of God, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where in 1960 he met fellow student Tammy Faye LaValley.[3] He worked in a restaurant inside a department store in Minneapolis, and she had a job in a boutique for a time.

On April 1, 1961, Bakker and Tammy Faye were married. They left the Bible college to become evangelists. They had two children, Tammy Sue "Sissy" Bakker Chapman (born March 2, 1970) and Jamie Charles "Jay" Bakker (born December 18, 1975).


In 1966, the Bakkers began working at Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network, which at the time barely reached an audience of thousands. The Bakkers greatly contributed to the growth of the network, and their success with a variety show format (including interviews and puppets) helped make The 700 Club one of the longest-running and most successful televangelism programs.[4]:6 The Jim and Tammy Show was broadcast for a few years from their Portsmouth, Virginia, studio and was aimed at young children. The Bakkers then left for California in the early 1970s.

Teaming with their former youth pastors Paul and Jan Crouch, the Bakkers created the "Praise the Lord" 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 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). They attributed much of their success to decisions early on to accept all denominations and to refuse no one 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 in the US, and a satellite system to distribute their network 24 hours a day across the country. Contributions requested from viewers were estimated to exceed $1 million a week, with proceeds to go to expanding the theme park and mission of PTL.[5] 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.

In their success, the Bakkers took New Yorker article, "They epitomized the excesses of the 1980s; the greed, the love of glitz, and the shamelessness; which in their case was so pure as to almost amount to a kind of innocence." Detractors often had their own name for PTL, such as Pass the Loot, Preachers Taking Loot, Providing Tammy with Lipstick, or Perverts for the Licentiousness.


  • Jim Bakker Show
  • Time Has Come

External links

  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Welch, William M. (July 21, 2007). "Ex-wife of evangelist Jim Bakker dies".  
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Jay Bakker, Son of a Preacher Man. New York: Harper Collins, 2001 (ISBN 0-06ė-251698-1).
  5. ^  
  6. ^ a b c  
  7. ^ Ostling, Richard N. (August 3, 1987). "Enterprising Evangelism". Time. Retrieved 2007-01-27. 
  8. ^  
  9. ^ "American Notes: Fund Raising".  
  10. ^ Tammy Faye Bakker - Obituary
  11. ^ "Preacher Scandals Strengthen TV Evangelism, Falwell Says".  
  12. ^ U.S. v. Bakker, (C.A.4, 1991), 925 F.2d 728, 740, case no. 89-5687
  13. ^ Peifer, Justice Paul E. (April 12, 2000). "Jim Bakker's Federal Court Appeal". Supreme Court of Ohio website. Retrieved 2007-11-29. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ United States v. Bakker, 925 F.2d 728 (4th Cir. 1991), at [1].
  16. ^ "James O. Bakker." Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved on January 8, 2010.
  17. ^ Jim Bakker, I Was Wrong. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, 1996 (ISBN 0785274251), p. 535.
  18. ^ STLtoday — Jim Bakker, with the PTL and prison behind him, dreams big in Missouri
  19. ^ Worthy Publishing


In 2013, Bakker authored Time Has Come: How to Prepare Now for Epic Events Ahead, Worthy Publishing ISBN 9781617950858 about the end-time events.[19]

In January 2003, Bakker began broadcasting the daily Jim Bakker Show at Studio City Cafe in Branson, Missouri, with his second wife, Lori. It is carried on the DISH and DirecTV satellite networks, Daystar and CTN cable network; the show currently has a millennial/survivalist focus. He and wife Lori have since adopted and/or taken in five children from the Phoenix inner city neighborhoods Lori once frequented as a part of the Master's Commission, a worldwide discipleship program now based out of Relevant Church in the Dallas Metro area. In January 2008, Bakker's ministry moved into a new television studio near Branson, in Blue Eye, Missouri. The studio is housed in a 600-acre (2.4 km2) development that resembles Bakker's former location, Heritage USA. Most or all of the property in the new development (named Morningside) is owned by associates of Bakker rather than by Bakker himself. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Bakker still owes the IRS about $6 million.[18]

Later career

His son, [4]:8–9

In 1998, he and Lori Graham were married. Bakker released another book that same year, Prosperity and the Coming Apocalypse ISBN 978-0-7852-6987-8, and, in 2000, he published The Refuge: The Joy of Christian Community in a Torn-Apart World ISBN 978-0-7852-7459-9.

The more I studied the Bible, however, I had to admit that the prosperity message did not line up with the tenor of Scripture. My heart was crushed to think that I led so many people astray. I was appalled that I could have been so wrong, and I was deeply grateful that God had not struck me dead as a false prophet![17]

Bakker has renounced his past teachings on prosperity theology, saying they were wrong. In his 1996 book, I Was Wrong, he admitted that the first time he actually read the Bible all the way through was while he was in prison, and that it made him realize he had taken certain passages out of context — passages which he had used as "proof texts" to back up his prosperity teachings. He wrote:


The Charlotte Observer reported that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) still holds Bakker and Roe Messner, Tammy Faye's husband from 1993 until her death in 2007, liable for personal income taxes owed from the 1980s when they were building the PTL empire, taxes assessed after the IRS revoked the PTL ministry's nonprofit status. Tammy Faye Messner's new husband said that the original tax amount was about $500,000, with penalties and interest accounting for the rest. Notices stating the IRS liens list still identify "James O. and Tamara F. Bakker" as owing $6,000,000, liens on which Jim Bakker still pays.

On July 23, 1996, a North Carolina jury threw out a class action suit brought on behalf of more than 160,000 onetime supporters who contributed as much as $7,000 each to Bakker's coffers in the 1980s.

His Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) number was 07407-058, and he was released from BOP custody on December 1, 1994.[16]

In August 1993, Bakker was transferred to a parole in July 1994, after serving almost five years of his sentence.[4]:116, 130 Bakker's son, Jay, spearheaded a letter-writing campaign to the parole board on his father's behalf, urging leniency.[4]:106–115

Jim and Tammy Bakker were divorced on March 13, 1992. On November 16, 1992, a sentence reduction hearing was held and Bakker's sentence was reduced to eight years.[4]:104

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.[15]

He served time in the Federal Medical Center, Rochester, in Rochester, Minnesota, sharing a cell with activist Lyndon LaRouche and skydiver Roger Nelson.[14]

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.[6][12] 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.[4]:52[13]

Fraud conviction and incarceration

:33–37[4] Bakker acknowledges he met Hahn at a hotel room in Clearwater, Florida, but denies raping her. Following Bakker's resignation as PTL head, he was succeeded in late March, 1987, by [6] On March 19, 1987, following the revelation of a payoff to Hahn to keep secret her allegation that Bakker and another minister had raped her, Bakker resigned from PTL.


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