ARCHIVES: Of God and Greed


Back when Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker were falling from grace as the unrivaled power couple of American Protestantism, there were some demands they made before exiting the scene.  Jerry Falwell came to the short-lived rescue of PTL, calling on Bakker to “return the millions of dollars that have been taken from the coffers of this ministry at the cost of widows and supporters and people who have sacrificially built this Christian ministry.”

At a press conference, Falwell produced a note Tammy Faye Bakker had hand-written on her own ministry-provided stationary.  That note was delivered to Falwell as a demand for the Bakker’s severance package. The demands included:

  • A lifetime salary of $300,000.00 per year for Jim Bakker
  • A lifetime salary of $100,000.00 per year for Tammy Faye Bakker
  • All royalties and rights to their PTL-related books and records
  • The $400,000.00 lakeside mansion in South Carolina built by PTL
  • Two cars
  • Security staffing
  • Payments for attorneys to handle the Bakker’s possible IRS problems
  • A maid and secretary for one year

Falwell responded to the Bakker’s demands:  “I see the greed. I see the self-centeredness. I see the avarice that brought them down.”  Falwell also took journalists on a troubling tour of the couple’s private penthouse at PTL, which included a 50-ft walk-in closet and gold-plated plumbing fixtures. The ministry had also provided the Bakker’s dog with an air-conditioned dog-house. One friend of Jim and Tammy Faye had received a handsome sum of $120,000.00 a year to decorate the Bakkers’ residences. Another aide received $120,000.00 a year for consulting services.

What did the Bakkers have to say about Falwell’s efforts to expose their lavish lifestyle, bring accountability, and restore the reputation of a once vibrant Christian ministry?

“My enemies are trying to kill me. They plot my ruin and spend all their waking hours planning treachery.”

To read more, click here.