Ex-Con Televangelist Jim Bakker Returns to TV With a New Real Estate Scheme
The faith depicted in this next story seems strong to me, sweet in its forgiveness, and ever so gullible and malleable. There is a beauty and goodness in those first two qualities, but that latter quality shows us why Christian conservatives bow down and kiss the rings of the Radical Religious Right Wing Christian Clerics in this country. The report is about Jim Bakker, disgraced televangelist from the late eighties, who is making a comeback in Branson, MO. He's had a TV show (the Jim Bakker Show) for a while on some pretty local outlets, and now he's built himself a megachurch called Morningside, a name his followers often slip up on, calling it "Heritage."
The real story here is not about the comeback of Jim Bakker, whose empire collapsed in shame, indictments, convictions and a successful class action suit in the late eighties. It is certainly not about tear-stained eye shadow -- that's in the past, and God rest Tammy Faye Meisner. This story is about the followers of Jim Bakker, the women who have forgiven him or think he was railroaded during that time nearly two decades ago when his empire named Heritage USA came crashing down. This is about the sweetness of the faith of those women, and also about the power of those women to convince their husbands to go along, after the couples lost so many thousands a couple decades ago. Yes, they "con"vince their husbands. I'm guessing this is yet another con job in the making. Check it out. From STLToday.com:
Visitors stream in, and Darylene Howard eagerly greets them.
"Welcome to Heritage!" she calls out. She realizes her mistake and laughs. "Oh my, I mean Morningside!"
Howard, who also works as a Wal-Mart greeter, is a chipper woman with a quick smile and bright blue eyes. She has been a fan of Bakker's since his glory days with the Praise The Lord ministry. And she, like many people here, lost money when the PTL collapsed. She and her husband each paid $1,000 for "lifetime partnerships" granting them limited free lodging at Heritage USA. Bakker spent almost five years in prison for diverting millions of dollars in partner fees for his personal use and promising more free lodging than the PTL ever could have provided.
But Howard dismisses Bakker's conviction as "a miscarriage of justice." And when a court settlement granted each of the 165,000 lifetime partners a check for a paltry $6.54, she and hundreds of others signed those checks over to Bakker in a show of support.
"There's a lot of love left for Jim Bakker," Howard says between greetings. "There is."
Bakker could not have gotten this far without these supporters. They have forgiven him -- or argue his prosecution was unfair. Bakker has admitted that he made mistakes while heading the PTL Club, which at its peak claimed 13 million viewers on 180 television stations and 1,300 cable outlets across the nation. He even wrote a book titled, "I Was Wrong." He has renounced the "prosperity gospel" he once preached. He claims a change of heart.