Friends and foes alike are urging a spring cleaning for all television ministries in the wake of further developments surrounding PTL. Television preacher Jerry Falwell says this process is already taking place at the television network and amusement park empire founded by Jim and Tammy Bakker. He said on the “PTL Club” television show, “I believe a sovereign God is cleaning house.”
Falwell, who took over at PTL in March at Jim Bakker’s request, began putting the house in order at his April board meeting. His new board ceased paying the Bakkers’ $1.6 million annual salary, stopped payments to Jessica Hahn—the former church secretary involved in adultery with Bakker—and dismissed top Bakker aides, including PTL President Richard Dortch.
A massive cleanup of PTL’S tangled finances began as well. New chief operations officer Harry Hargrave termed the PTL financial records “a mess.” Falwell said the ministry is $69 million in debt. Exorbitant salaries, retainer fees, and bonuses have been cut off, and building projects put on hold. A moratorium has been placed on issuing “lifetime partnerships” for $1,000, and more than 200 workers have been laid off.
In addition to these financial woes, investigations by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the South Carolina Tax Commission are on the horizon. According to the Washington Post, the IRS is challenging personal expenses exceeding $1.3 million.
Additional federal and state investigations, coordinated by the U.S. attorney’s office in Asheville, North Carolina, are exploring possible incidents of wire, tax, and mail fraud. And accountants are trying to determine what happened to several ...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 65+ 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