Chattanooga, Tennessee-based Christian talk show host John Ankerberg has been regarded by some as the villain in the scandal that has rocked PTL. Ankerberg first spoke out in defense of Jimmy Swaggart, who had been accused of instigating a “hostile takeover” of PTL. He later brought forth allegations that former PTL head Jim Bakker visited prostitutes and engaged in homosexual acts. Ankerberg discussed with CHRISTIANITY TODAY his role in revealing the allegations.

How He Got Involved

It was at this year’s (February) convention of the National Religious Broadcasters when Ankerberg first heard charges that Bakker had had an affair with New York church secretary Jessica Hahn in 1980, and that PTL had paid her to keep silent. Ankerberg said Swaggart had heard the same story several months earlier and had confronted PTL leaders last September. Richard Dortch, Bakker’s assistant who would later replace him as host of the PTL television show, denied the charges.

Ankerberg said that at first he did not believe the story, “but the people who told me were some of the most respected people in the world.… Everything I tried to do was based on the principles of Matthew 18:1 found there were two or three witnesses willing to testify concerning each of the accusations I was hearing.”

Ankerberg’s effort to determine the truth of the allegations surrounding Hahn led him to California businessman Paul Roper, who had met with PTL on Hahn’s behalf. Roper showed Ankerberg the legal documents of the financial arrangement, documents written to Dortch. When Ankerberg showed the documentation to Swaggart, Swaggart “realized Dortch had lied to him directly,” Ankerberg said.

Roper told ...

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