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Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker: Inside Their Relationship and the Scandals That Brought Down Their Empire

LATEST CELEBRITY BREAKING NEWS As a pair, Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker created an evangelical empire that encompassed a Christian ministry, broadcasting community and theme park. They turned two of probably the most well-known televangelists in America, whose religious teachings usually appeared at odds with the extravagant way of life they led. The truth that…

As a pair, Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker created an evangelical empire that encompassed a Christian ministry, broadcasting community and theme park. They turned two of probably the most well-known televangelists in America, whose religious teachings usually appeared at odds with the extravagant way of life they led. The truth that their eventual fall from televised grace got here from a intercourse and monetary scandal solely served to extend the general public's fascination with them.

The couple related rapidly and shortly bought their first tv present

Tammy Faye LaValley was born in Worldwide Falls, Minnesota, in 1942 to Pentecostal preacher dad and mom. Jim Bakker was a self-described visionary and dreamer who was born in 1940 and grew up in Muskegon, Michigan. They met in 1960 as college at North Central Bible Faculty in Minneapolis and for his or her first date, Jim invited Tammy Faye to attend church with him. In her memoir Tammy: Telling it My Way, Tammy Faye recalls Jim saying to her at the end of that date: “Tammy LaValley, I have loved you ever since the minute I saw you walk into school…” before asking her to marry him.

A year later, the newlyweds had dropped out of college to follow their shared dream of creating a ministry. As Assemblies of God traveling evangelists, Jim preached while Tammy Faye sang and played the accordion, ministering to churches across the United States. One part of their teachings involved a puppet show ministry for children, which in 1965 became a television show on Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). Leveraging Robertson's admiration for the children's program, Jim convinced him that if the puppet show was successful Jim should be given an opportunity to create a late-night Christian talk show.

Jim wanted to create “a Christian version of The Tonight Show,” John Wigger, author of PTL: The Rise and Fall of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker's Evangelical Empire, told ABC News of the Bakker's time at CBN, noting the Christian discuss present was certainly one of Jim's first huge improvements in televised ministry. That first foray into discuss reveals turned The 700 Membership, nonetheless a flagship program for CBN. “It's not listed within the bible, however my religious present, my particular calling from God, is to be a tv talk-show host,” Jim was quoted as saying in Spy magazine.

Tammy Faye Jim Bakker

Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye

Jim and Tammy Faye ultimately started their very own tv community

As Jim and Tammy Faye's public profile grew, so did their household unit. In 1970 Tammy Faye gave start to daughter Tammy Sue “Sissy,” and in 1975 to a son, Jamie “Jay” Charles. In the course of the intervening years the Bakkers moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, the place Jim based the PTL (Reward the Lord) Satellite tv for pc Community in 1974, adopted by the debut of The PTL Membership in 1976 which continued to till 1987. Formatted like late night time fare, this system hosted distinguished ministers speaking about present affairs, featured visitors as numerous as Ronald Reagan and Eldridge Cleaver, and showcased common Christian recording artists.

As hosts, the Bakkers helped popularize the “prosperity gospel,” the place Christian religion is usually equated with monetary and materials success. To viewers of The PTL Membership, Jim and Tammy Faye have been the embodiment of God rewarding sturdy religion with monetary blessings, and the Bakkers' far-flung flock willingly tithed within the perception that they might obtain the identical blessings in return.

Between visitors and musical interludes, a closely made-up and bewigged Tammy Faye and flashily dressed Jim inspired viewers to ship cash in return for prayers, blessings and the potential of reaching a life-style akin to their very own. The present's scores quickly vaulted larger and better and yielded even larger monetary returns. 

The couple confirmed a united entrance on TV however have been privately unravelling

Tammy Faye's effusiveness and Jim's calm religion have been endearing, as was her unpredictability which might lead to tearful outbursts about life's struggles and successes, her personal included. Rev. Mel White, a former ghostwriter for preacher Jerry Falwell, described her appeal as mixture Martha Stewart, Dr. Joyce Brothers and Carol Burnett. “She talked about intercourse, and flirted with Jimmy,” White mentioned. “She took on the caricature of an obedient spouse, and blasted it. You've got by no means seen Pat Robertson's spouse, or Jerry Falwell's spouse. They keep at dwelling, doing what these wives do.”

In personal, the Bakkers have been to develop aside. Jim poured all his energies into constructing the PTL Community, increasing the studios and workplace buildings — which turned generally known as Heritage Village — and growing and showing on new Christian programming. Although she cohosted the community's hottest present, Tammy Faye usually felt alone at dwelling, taking care of their younger kids with little or no assist from Jim.

Quickly different individuals “started to note rising stress between Jim and me,” Tammy Faye wrote in Telling it My Means. “You could possibly really feel it on the set, you might really feel it when visiting our dwelling. Jim turned so preoccupied with the event of Heritage Village that there was little vitality left over for deepening our relationship. Whereas I inspired his efforts, I started to really feel extra distant from him than ever.” Intimacy between the couple had change into uncommon, in line with Tammy Faye.

Tammy Faye Jim Bakker

Jim Bakker (R) and Tammy Faye (center) sit with Edwin Louis Cole (L), a visitor on their program, ‘Folks That Love,' on April 28, 1986. 

Their world got here crashing down when Jim was concerned in a sexual assault scandal

In 1978, the Bakkers used $200 million of PTL funds to finance the constructing of Heritage USA, a 2,300-acre Christian-themed expertise park and residential advanced in Fort Mill, South Carolina. On the peak of its reputation Heritage USA billed itself because the nation's third-largest theme park in attendance with an estimated 4.9 million guests a 12 months. By the mid-Nineteen Eighties, the couple was on the helm of a multi-million greenback evangelical empire, however their lavish way of life was drawing detractors within the mainstream media. Tammy Faye's look and love of purchasing had change into a punchline for comics. Procuring, Tammy Faye usually publicly declared, was cheaper than a psychiatrist, and she or he said she hoped heaven would come with a shopping mall “the place there's no restrict in your cost card.”

However no quantity of purchasing eased the ache of the 1987 revelation that her husband had used $279,000 of PTL cash in an try to purchase the silence of 21-year-old church secretary Jessica Hahn, who claimed Jim had sexually assaulted her in a Florida resort room in 1980. Although Jim insisted the intercourse was consensual, his — and by affiliation Tammy Faye's — fall from televised grace was swift.

Jim reluctantly stepped down from his place at PTL, handing management to fellow televangelist Jerry Falwell. Worse for the Bakkers was the revelation by a Charlotte Observer investigation that Jim had mismanaged funds and that PTL was leveraged to the purpose of monetary collapse. Based on Time, within the closing months of the Bakker period at PTL, the group was taking in $4.2 million a month and $7.2 million. All the Bakkers' luxurious houses and extreme spending was now beneath a far harsher highlight than the couple was used to, and a felony investigation into PTL's funds was launched in June 1987.

Tammy Faye initially stood by her husband's facet however ultimately divorced him

Publicly Tammy Faye stood by her man, even showing alongside Jim in a now notorious 1987 interview with Ted Koppel for Nightline, defending their actions. She was current as he was indicted in 1988 on eight counts of mail , 15 counts of wire fraud and one depend of conspiracy, then sentenced to 45 years in federal jail, with the sentence ultimately lowered to eight years. When Jim was discovered responsible, Tammy Faye — who was by no means indicted — appeared at a information convention and tearfully sang, “On Christ the stable rock I stand/All different floor is sinking sand.”

Three years later they divorced. Criticized for initiating the whereas her husband was behind bars, Tammy Faye acknowledged in her memoir: “How merciless would it not have been for me to have waited till he walked via these jail doorways, completely happy and stuffed with desires and plans for Jim and Tammy.” In a 1992 letter to her Florida church, she defined her causes behind the divorce. “For years I've been pretending that all the things is all proper, when in actual fact I damage on a regular basis,” she wrote. “I can't fake anymore.”

A 12 months after the divorce, Tammy Faye married property developer and former household good friend Roe Messner, who had helped construct a lot of Heritage USA. Messner was convicted of chapter fraud in 1994 and served 27 months in jail. Tammy Faye remaining married to Messner till her loss of life in 2007 at age 65, following an 11-year battle with colon most cancers. Requested in 2002 if she nonetheless had a relationship together with her ex-husband, Tammy Faye replied, “Oh sure. We've a really good relationship. I say I like being Jim Bakker's good friend and I like being Roe Messner's spouse.”

Paroled in 1994, Jim returned Christian broadcasting in 2003 with The Jim Bakker Present, co-hosting alongside his second spouse Lori, whom he married in 1998. In a statement on the time of Tammy Faye's loss of life, Jim mentioned that his ex-wife “lived her life just like the track she sang, ‘If Life Arms You a Lemon, Make Lemonade.'”


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