American televangelist Jim Bakker is a former minister for the Assemblies of God, the ninth largest Christian denomination in the United States.
He was a co-host on several shows in the ’60s and ’70s, including “The 700 Club” and “Praise the Lord Club,” with his then-wife Tammy Faye Bakker. Bakker also established the Christian theme park Heritage USA.
Jim Bakker, who is thought to be gay, is also the author of a number of publications, including Time Has Come: How to Prepare Now for Epic Events Ahead.
After it was revealed that Jim Bakker was having an affair with his church secretary, numerous additional extramarital relationships came to light, and the couple’s popularity plummeted. He was also found guilty of fraud and conspiracy years later.
Some of Jim Bakker’s fellow pastors, such as Jerry Falwell and Jimmy Swaggart, have brutally condemned him, calling him a liar, embezzler, sexually deviant, and cancer on the face of Christianity.
Is Jim Bakker Gay?
Former PTL (The PTL Club) director of creative tv Jay Babcock testified in 1987 that he told a grand jury meeting in Charlotte that he had sex with Jim Bakker. He was the first to officially admit to having a gay affair with Bakker in front of a grand jury.
United Press International reports that Bakker has categorically denied having any sort of homosexual relationship with another person. In court, Bakker swore he was never gay. He said,
I’ll tell you before God I’ve never had homosexual intercourse with anyone and certainly not with Jay Babcock.
Later, Babcock confirmed that he indeed had intercourse with Jim, though he claimed otherwise during the press conference. Though there were already other claims against Jim Bakker in the public eye prior to Babcock’s accusations, new speculations emerged that Bakker had been involved in a homosexual romance in the past.
In May 1987, the Reverend Jerry Falwell reported that Bakker had made a homosexual advance on Gary Smith, the former general manager of PTL.
Falwell, who took over the ministry after the Bakkers resigned, said in an interview that the Bakkers were no longer qualified to lead PTL because Jim was secretly gay and that Tammy Faye had demanded a long list of things in exchange for them abandoning their plans to return to PTL.
These things included, among other things, a large annual salary, two cars, a maid for a year, and a furnished house on a lake.
As it turned out, the proof just wasn’t there to say for sure whether or not Jim Bakker was gay. Two weddings to the same woman and a seemingly happy married life suggest he is straight for the time being. Nonetheless, enough controversy existed in the 1980s to suggest he was maybe bisexual.
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Early Life and Career Beginnings
Jim Bakker’s parents, Raleigh and Furnia, gave birth to him in 1940 in Muskegon, Michigan. Upon entering adulthood, he enrolled at Minneapolis’s private, evangelical Christian North Central University.
That’s where he met his future wife, Tammy Faye LaValley, who was also a student there. Once married in 1961, the couple dropped out of school to pursue a life of itinerant evangelism.
After marrying in 1964, Bakker and his wife both found jobs with Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network in Portsmouth, Virginia, in 1966.
The two hosted a children’s variety show called “Come On Over,” which was a major factor in the revival of the struggling network. Bakker’s success led to him being chosen to anchor a brand new primetime discussion program called “The 700 Club.”
After Bakker and his wife left the network in 1972, they joined forces with Paul and Jan Crouch to establish the Trinity Broadcasting Network in California. An eight-month relationship ended due to a disagreement between Bakker and Crouch.
The PTL Club:
Bakker and his wife left Trinity Broadcasting Network and started their own Christian talk program, “The PTL Club,” in 1976 after relocating to Charlotte, North Carolina. Bakker’s PTL Satellite Network, which also showed other religious shows, carried the show nationwide.
Bakker constructed Heritage Village, the PTL headquarters, over the course of a decade. During this time, he and his wife worked to grow their ministry by constructing the Heritage USA theme park in Fort Mill, South Carolina. At the time, this amusement park was among the most popular in the entire country.
Criminal Investigations and Charges Against PTL: The FCC launched an inquiry into Bakker and PTL in 1979 for alleged misuse of on-air donations. In 1982, it was discovered that instead of using the approximately $350,000 he had raised for international missions, Bakker had spent it on his amusement park.
The FCC and the IRS both concluded that the Bakkers had improperly exploited PTL monies for their own benefit. Bakker leveraged the controversy to further his cause by claiming he was being unfairly punished.