Late this month, the results of investigations into television evangelist Jim Bakker’s sudden resignation from his PTL television network may determine how the ministry’s new management under Baptist preacher Jerry Falwell will proceed.
An independent financial audit of the PTL network and Bakker’s vacation theme park, Heritage USA, is in progress. In addition, investigations by members of PTL’S new board of directors and Bakker’s denomination, the Assemblies of God, are under way. At a press conference following the new board’s first meeting last month, Falwell emphasized his first task as PTL chairman is to “restore the credibility of this ministry nationwide.”
Late last month, Bakker resigned from PTL under a cloud of charges involving an alleged sexual indiscretion in 1980 with a New York woman named Jessica Hahn. The incident appeared to have been covered up by an agreement by PTL attorneys to pay up to $265,000 to Hahn and her legal representatives, according to the Charlotte Observer.
When he resigned, Bakker asked Falwell to take charge of his television network and related ministries. Through his lawyer, Bakker then began leveling accusations of a hostile takeover attempt by fellow television preacher Jimmy Swaggart. In a marathon of television appearances, Swaggart denied any thought of a takeover. But he did say he alerted the Assemblies of God, in which both he and Bakker are ordained, about rumors that seemed serious enough to warrant a church investigation.
Falwell appointed a new board, including National Religious Broadcasters executive director Ben Armstrong; former U.S. interior secretary and Assemblies of God layman James Watt; Atlanta ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more