FAQ :: Whatever happened to scandalous televangelist, Jim Baker?

Jim Baker was forced to resign from his position as president of the PTL Club and Heritage USA on March 19, 1987, following the revelation that he had paid Jessica Hahn $279,000 to keep secret her allegation that Baker and another minister had raped her. Jessica Hahn worked as a staff secretary at Baker’s religious enterprise. She was paid off through Baker associate Roe Messner, who later married Tammy Fay Bakker. Bakker, who apparently made all of the financial decisions for the PTL organization, allegedly kept two sets of books to conceal the accounting irregularities. Reporters from The Charlotte Observer, led by Charles Shepard, investigated and published a series of articles regarding the PTL organization’s finances.

Bakker reluctantly acknowledged he met Hahn at a hotel room in Clearwater Beach, Florida, but denies raping her. Following his resignation as PTL head, he was succeeded in late March, 1987, by Jerry Falwell. He allegedly 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.”

Bakker’s son, Jay, wrote in 2001 that the Bakkers felt betrayed by Falwell, who they thought, at the time of Bakker’s resignation, intended to help in Bakker’s eventual restoration as head of PTL.

Bakker also ran afoul of the law and following a 16-month Federal grand jury probe he 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, the jury found him guilty on all 24 counts, and Judge Robert Potter sentenced him to 45 years in federal prison and a $500,000 fine.

Jim Bakker spent five years in jail for defrauding 116,000 PTL followers out of $158 million. After spending a number of years in relative quiet, today Jim Bakker has a new television ministry, The Jim Bakker Show. It is broadcast from a new Christian Retreat Center called “Morningside” located just outside Branson, Missouri. This 700-acre property is a thriving Christian community that also serves as the back lot for The Jim Bakker Show and multiple other LIVE broadcasts.

Bakker claims to be a redeemed man, but still teaches some questionable fringe Pentecostal doctrine. This man did a tremendous amount of damage to the cause of Christ. Hopefully, today, he is using his new TV platform to expand the gospel of Christ and not himself.

1.Ostling, Richard N. “Jim Bakker’s Crumbling World.” Time magazine. 12.19.1988. www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,956551,00.html.
2. Ostling, Richard N. “Enterprising Evangelism.” Time. 8.03.1987. www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,965155,00.html.
3.Ostling, Richard N. “Taking Command at Fort Mill.” Time magazine. 5.11.1987. www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,964322-1,00.html.
4. Jay Bakker, Son of a Preacher Man.>/i> NY: Harper Collins, 2001. pp. 33-37. 5. U.S. v. Bakker, (C.A.4, 1991), 925 F.2d 728, 740, case no. 89-5687.
6. Jay Bakker, Son of a Preacher Man. New York: Harper Collins, 2001. p. 52.
7.Peifer, Justice Paul E. “Jim Bakker’s Federal Court Appeal.” 4.12.2000. Supreme Court of Ohio website. www.sconet.state.oh.us/Justices/pfeifer/column/20
8. “Transcript: Interview with Jessica Hahn.” Larry King Live (CNN). 7.14.2005. http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0507/14/lkl.01.html.