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Tag: Jim Bakker

“I Was Canceled by the Federal Government” Says Convicted Felon Jim Bakker

jim and tammy faye bakker

“In 1989, televangelist Jim Bakker was convicted by a jury of 24 counts of fraud and conspiracy and sentenced to 45 years in prison for having bilked members of his Praise The Lord ministry out of hundreds of millions of dollars. Bakker had raised these funds by selling “lifetime partnerships” to viewers that entitled them to an annual free stay at his Heritage USA Christian theme park, but the number of partnerships sold far exceeded the park’s capacity and millions of dollars were diverted to fund Bakker’s own lavish lifestyle.” (Right Wing Watch)

On the Jim Bakker Show: Prophetic End Times News last Friday, Bakker indignantly stated:

They canceled me. Mainly it was the media, and the media got a Pulitzer Prize for putting me in prison. That’s what they do, they reward the enemies of the gospel. And the cancel culture, we had the largest ministry of its type in the world—Heritage USA—millions of people came there, and it was millions being saved around the world, and they literally took it away.

That was what cancel culture is. One of the biggest agencies of the federal government produced video from my show video and edited it and put me in prison. They testified that it was that video that made people believe, ‘Well, something must be wrong.’ They made me say things I didn’t say. They just put pieces together, thousands of pieces of my show, and so when I went to trial for the last trial—after I got out of a prison, I was put on trial again—and in that, the lawyers got all that tape that the government had edited—the government did it! Just like now, this is cancel culture—and they took it apart and put it back the way it was on the show. And the lies—they made me tell lies that weren’t there—when the courts heard this, they saw the first video that the government had edited and then they saw the one from the original, they voted unanimously that I wasn’t guilty.

It was cancel culture. Everything to erase me.

Bakker would like us to forget:

A $279,000 payoff [by Jim Bakker] for the silence of [Jessica] Hahn, who alleged that Bakker and former PTL Club co-host John Wesley Fletcher drugged and raped her, was paid with PTL funds through Bakker’s associate Roe Messner. Bakker, who made PTL’s financial decisions, allegedly kept two sets of books to conceal accounting irregularities. Reporters for The Charlotte Observer, led by Charles Shepard, investigated PTL’s finances and published a series of articles.

On March 19, 1987, after the disclosure of a payoff to Hahn, Bakker resigned from PTL. Although he acknowledged that he had a sexual encounter with Hahn at a hotel room in Clearwater, Florida, he denied raping her. Bakker was also the subject of homosexual and bisexual allegations made by Fletcher and PTL director Jay Babcock, which Bakker denied under oath. Rival televangelist John Ankerberg appeared on Larry King Live and made several allegations of moral impropriety against Bakker, which both Bakkers denied.

Bakker was succeeded as PTL head by the Rev. Jerry Falwell of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia. Bakker chose Falwell as his successor because he feared that fellow televangelist Jimmy Swaggart, who had initiated an Assemblies of God investigation into Bakker’s sexual misconduct, was attempting to take over his ministry.

Bakker believed that Falwell would temporarily lead the ministry until the scandal died down, but on April 28, 1987, Falwell barred Bakker from returning to PTL upon hearing of allegations of illicit behavior which went beyond the Hahn allegations. Later that summer, as donations declined sharply in the wake of Bakker’s resignation and the end of The PTL Club, Falwell raised $20 million to keep Heritage USA solvent and took a promised water slide ride at the park. Falwell and the remaining members of the PTL board resigned in October 1987, stating that a ruling from a bankruptcy court judge made rebuilding the ministry impossible.

In response to the scandal, Falwell called Bakker a liar, an embezzler, a sexual deviant, and “the greatest scab and cancer on the face of Christianity in 2,000 years of church history”. On CNN, Swaggart stated that Bakker was a “cancer in the body of Christ”. In February 1988, Swaggart became involved in a sex scandal of his own after being caught visiting prostitutes in New Orleans.

In Bakker’s aforementioned rant alleging the Federal Government canceled him, Bakker tells a whopper of a lie: “when the courts heard this, they saw the first video that the government had edited and then they saw the one from the original, they voted unanimously that I wasn’t guilty.”

Here’s the truth:

The PTL Club‘s fundraising activities between 1984 and 1987 were reported by The Charlotte Observer, eventually leading to criminal charges against Bakker. Bakker and his PTL associates sold $1,000 “lifetime memberships”, entitling buyers to an annual three-night stay at a luxury hotel at Heritage USA during that period. According to the prosecution at Bakker’s fraud trial, tens of thousands of memberships were sold but only one 500-room hotel was ever finished. Bakker sold “exclusive partnerships” which exceeded capacity, raising more than twice the money needed to build the hotel. Much of the money paid Heritage USA’s operating expenses, and Bakker kept $3.4 million.

After a sixteen-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. In 1989, after a five-week trial which began on August 28 in Charlotte, North Carolina, a jury found him guilty on all 24 counts. Judge Robert Daniel Potter sentenced Bakker to 45 years in federal prison and imposed a $500,000 fine. At the Federal Medical Center, Rochester in Rochester, Minnesota, he shared a cell with activist Lyndon LaRouche and skydiver Roger Nelson.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld Bakker’s conviction on the fraud and conspiracy charges, voided Bakker’s 45-year sentence and $500,000 fine, and ordered a new sentencing hearing in February 1991. The court ruled that Potter’s sentencing statement about Bakker, that “those of us who do have a religion are sick of being saps for money-grubbing preachers and priests”, was evidence that the judge had injected his religious beliefs into Bakker’s sentence.

A sentence-reduction hearing was held on November 16, 1992, and Bakker’s sentence was reduced to eight years. In August 1993, he was transferred to a minimum-security federal prison in Jesup, Georgia. Bakker was paroled in July 1994, after serving almost five years of his sentence. Bakker was released from Federal Bureau of Prisons custody on December 1, 1994, owing $6 million to the IRS.

Once a con-man, always a con-man.

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Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

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The Ministry Addiction: Why Preachers Can’t Give it Up

fat preacher

Have you noticed that when many big-name, megachurch pastors and not-so-big name pastors get themselves in trouble that they often resign, disappear for a while, and then show up in a new town, claiming that “God” is leading them to start a new church? Or sometimes, they squirrel themselves away for a year or so, and then the next thing you read is that they are the new pastor of such-and-such church. No matter what the crime or misbehavior, “fallen” pastors almost always find a path back to the ministry.

The main reason, of course, is that these men tend to be charismatic, winsome leaders who easily attract followers, followers who are willing to let the past be the past, followers who are willing to grant them redemption and forgiveness, followers who are far more interested in the “man” than they are his behavior. (Please see The Evangelical Cult of Personality.) Big-name preachers, in particular, become demigods. People flock to them, hanging on every word, regardless of who they might have had an affair with or sexually molested in the past. Sadly, way too many Evangelicals are stupid and gullible, willing to sacrifice reason and moral decency for the attention of a soiled big-name preacher.

In virtually every other setting, you commit a crime or have an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate, and your career is over. Not so for “fallen” Evangelical preachers. No matter what a preacher does, there is nothing that stands in his way if he wants to go to a new city and start a church. The Internet has changed this dynamic somewhat, but before the Internet, it wasn’t uncommon to hear of preachers who “fell” (or ran) into sin, resigned, and then moved a few thousand miles away to start a new church. (Please see How to Start an Independent Baptist Church.) Anyone can start a new church. If I were so inclined, I could start a new church by Sunday. Why, if all my children and their spouses and my grandchildren showed up, I would have more than twenty-five people in attendance for the first service at First Church of Bruce Almighty. By default, First Church would be tax-exempt, and attendance-wise would be larger than several “real” churches nearby. There’s no secular or religious authority that could stop me from doing so. That’s the beauty (and the danger) of the separation of church and state. Pastor so-and-so can fuck his way through the congregation, get caught and resign, and then pack up, move five states away, and start a new church. Felon Jack Schaap, the disgraced pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana, will be out of federal prison in a couple of years. Does anyone doubt that once out of jail, Schaap will try to return to the ministry? Remember all the bad shit Jim Bakker did? After he got out of prison, he wrote a book titled, I Was Wrong. Not too wrong, however. Bakker is back on TV, preaching the “gospel” and fleecing anyone and everyone who comes his way. Ted Haggard? Jimmy Swaggart? Perry Noble? Mark Driscoll? The list goes on and on. All of these men made a mockery of their calling, and in some instances committed crimes. Yet, today all of them are still in the ministry. Granted, they haven’t reached the levels of notoriety they once had, but thousands of people have flocked to their new churches, seemingly oblivious to their past sins, “indiscretions,” failures, and crimes.

Why don’t these “fallen” preachers move on to other jobs or careers? Why do they return to the ministry, drawn to it like a moth to the light? With few exceptions, every disgraced preacher I know later reentered the ministry. Sure, some of them labor in obscurity, often doing little more than preaching at nursing homes or jails. However, most of them find a path back to the ministry, often in the same capacity as before. Yesterday, I posted a story about Pastor Donald Foose. Foose confessed to and was convicted of sexually molesting a teenage girl. After serving nine months of a two-year prison sentence, Foose moved down the road to a new church. After several years at this church, he became its pastor. The former pastor and other church leaders knew about Foose’s criminal past, yet they uncritically believed him when he said, “I didn’t do it.” Worse yet, several men who should have been some sort of check and balance chose, instead, to give Foose a pass, believing that everyone deserves redemption and a new start. I wonder if these men would be as understanding if it were their daughters whom Foose sexually assaulted? I doubt it.

Why can’t these preachers move on to new jobs, employment that’s not connected to their religious past? One pastor I know quite well had an affair with his secretary. While there were extenuating circumstances — his wife was a lesbian who hadn’t had sex with him in 20 years — he left the ministry and started working a secular job. He never pastored a church again. Why is it so many disgraced pastors don’t do the same? Oh, they will get a secular job for a year or two until the heat dies down and people move on, but more often than not, back to the ministry they go.

I am convinced that many of these men are addicted to the ministry. They spent years being the center of attention. People looked up to them, fawned over them, and treated them as if they were gods. I left the ministry in 2005. I miss the constant adulation and praise of others. I miss being the hub around which everything turned. I miss having the respect of others. I miss, to put it bluntly, being DA MAN! Pastors who read this blog know what I am talking about. The close connection preachers have with congregants is fulfilling and satisfying. It is almost impossible to find similar feelings in the “world.” Much like drug addicts craving hits of methamphetamine, preachers crave the attention, flattery, and admiration they received from congregants. Live off this high long enough, and you can’t imagine not having it. That’s why many pastors with crimes/indiscretions in their pasts end up rebooting their ministries somewhere else. These “men of God” are much like King David as he looked over the rooftops and saw Bathsheba naked, taking a bath. “I have got to have her,” David thought. And have her, he did. So it is with the preachers I have talked about in this post. Their Bathsheba is the ministry.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Jim Bakker Says Democrats Might Assassinate President Trump

jim and tammy faye bakker

This political fight that is going on in America is going to bring America apart, America is going to come apart. I believe there is such a hatred for our president, and I will say this and you may say I shouldn’t but I’m going to say it: if they [Democrats/Liberals] can’t get him out by courts and politically and put him in prison somehow, they want him to go to prison, they’re applauding now for Trump to go to prison—they will kill him if they have to.

—  Jim Bakker, Newsweek, Conservative Televangelist Jim Bakker Says Democrats Will Kill Trump If Impeachment Fails, November 18, 2019

The Sounds of Fundamentalism: Mark Biltz Says the Antichrist Might be a Human Cyborg

mark blitz

This is the one hundred and ninety-third installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a video clip of Christian Fundamentalist Mark Biltz, pastor of El Shaddai Ministries in Tacoma Washington, stoking hysteria over artificial intelligence. Blitz says the Antichrist might be a human cyborg.  Of course, Biltz has a book to sell. He mentions his “must read” book several times, as does fellow con-man Jim Bakker.

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The Sounds of Fundamentalism: Apache Helicopters Are Mentioned in the Bible

jim and lori bakker

This is the one hundred and ninety-second installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a  video clip of Jim Bakker saying that Apache helicopters are mentioned in the Bible.  Where, your ask? Revelation 9:3-9:

And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.  And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.

Did you see it? Come on, it’s right there in plain sight! Either that, or Jim Bakker is a bat-shit crazy fearmonger.

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Bruce Gerencser