Jim BakkerEvangelist / Convict
Born: 2 January 1940
Birthplace: Muskegon, Michigan
Best known as: The disgraced "PTL" TV host and theme park founder
Name at birth: James Orsen Bakker
Jim Bakker's entanglement in money and sex scandals cost him a lucrative television show, a huge Christian theme park and a 30-year marriage to his ministry partner, Tammy Faye Bakker. The two wed in 1961 while teens at a Minneapolis Bible college and then traveled as evangelists who preached, sang, and a put on a puppet show. Perky and charismatic, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker rose quickly in the burgeoning field of viewer-funded televangelism, first as stars of Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network, then as co-founders of Trinity Broadcasting Network. Then came their North Carolina-based Praise the Lord TV show, which grew into a multi-faceted ministry called PTL. By 1978 it included a satellite network with 13 million viewers on 1,200 cable systems, and Heritage USA, a kind of religious Disneyland in Fort Mill, South Carolina, which eventually covered four square miles. Jim Bakker suddenly resigned from PTL in 1987 after admitting to a one-time 1980 sexual encounter with a Long Island church secretary, Jessica Hahn, and making subsequent hush-money payments. He was convicted of fraud in 1989 for over-promising Heritage privileges to more than 152,000 special contributors. Tammy divorced him while he served five years in prison. Jim Bakker then worked in a Los Angeles urban ministry, published the book I Was Wrong, and in 2006 started a new religious TV show with his second wife, Lori Graham Bakker, based in Branson, Missouri.
Extra credit: Jim Bakker and the former Lori Graham were married in 1998... Jim Bakker was the original star of CBN's popular 700 Club talk show, later hosted by Pat Robertson... After the scandals, Jim Bakker's standing as a minister was removed by his religious denomination, the Assemblies of God... He and Tammy Faye had a daughter, Tammy Sue (born 1970), and a son, Jamie Charles (1975), now known as Jay, who is also an evangelist. Tammy Faye Bakker died in 2007.
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