Anniversary Post: Jim Bakker Steps Down

Jim BakkerOn this day in 1987, Jim Bakker stepped down from his “Praise The Lord” (PTL) church because of the whole Jessica Hahn incident. I’m not that much interested in that, but it is interesting to think that he actually raped her. I wouldn’t put it past him. He is not a good man. But what I didn’t know is that Jerry Falwell took over for him. It makes you wonder.

You all know that I’m an atheist. At the same time, I’m pretty friendly toward religion as long as it is sincere and not just some kind of cultural signifier. Now my father is rabidly anti-religion, even as he has beliefs in a spiritual side of the universe that I don’t buy into. He just thinks that churches are just about money and that’s it.

I think that’s unfair. Just the same, when you look at someone like Jim Bakker, it’s hard to deny that at least in the world of television Protestantism, it does seem to be all about money. In the end, we find out in Small Gods, that Vorbis had just been talking to himself all those years. Indeed, we find out that there is only one person in all of Omnia who actually believed in Om. But it’s so much worse when it is a high priest.

I don’t think that Jim Bakker believes in the God of the Bible, just as I don’t believe that Jerry Falwell did. These were just men who found that they could use the old religion to gain money and power. I don’t see them as any different from the ISIS pretenders who claim to be doing God’s will by burning people alive. They just live in a different environment where worse acts are acceptable.

So where is Jim Bakker today? Well, he apparently has a radio show and he publishes books. Because it really doesn’t matter. He’s a man of “God” and there will always be people willing to give to him. If God wanted to prove his existence, he’d strike Jim Bakker dead. But God has always been a great disappointment when it comes to that kind of justice.

10 thoughts on “Anniversary Post: Jim Bakker Steps Down

  1. Wow. What a post. So much said, so efficiently.

    My dad is a complete kook, but my SO’s dad sounds a lot like yours. The SO’s was an old-school working-class guy into car races and classic country music. He regarded Reagan as a scumbag, and was not religious . . . yet spent the last years of his life watching Fox News. (When I took care of him, we’d switch the TV to the SPEED channel on cable. It was NASCAR; at least it wasn’t Fox.)

    Televangelists are Amway salespersons, or Tupperware, or those swine advertising three-day seminars on how to flip houses. They’re strictly grifters. I’m beginning to think the same is true of for-profit company spokespersons who train low-paid workers to assist the disabled, my poorly-chosen profession, although that’s another matter.

    We know churches can do good things. I can name offhand several in the Twin Cities that are vital to helping the homeless and advocating political policies which make life better for people.

    This is probably a dichotomy which deserves a more thoughtful post, but f**k bad religion and thank the living Elvis for good religion. (As you know, Elvis is alive and well and working in a Burger King somewhere. He died, and yea, He returneth. Praise be to the miracle.)

    • I definitely don’t want to paint all religions like that. But clearly, these are television companies. Of course, yesterday I was down at the bus mall and there were the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I started thinking how I like to discuss religion. And I thought back on how I used to talk to these people. But they are disingenuous. They are so certain they’ve found the truth that they do nothing but sell it. And I don’t know them to do much in terms of good works, because, of course, what is a terrible life compared to an eternity of orgasms. But I can have a decent conversation with most religious people.

  2. I think they thought they believed in God. But they didn’t. They believed in the structure of the church like many of the followers of Om, not the entity behind the church.

    • I imagine that’s right. And they believe that their mansions and jetplanes are needed for them to continue their “ministry” — AKA, stealing from people. If you asked a televangelist, he’d probably say he wishes he could be a simple country pastor and his life is so, so stressful. But God calls him to do it, so, he’ll soldier on.

      • Then I hit them with the printed copy of Susan B. Anthony’s quote on God and people and go to jail.

        Such is my life.

    • “Many”?! Many?! All but one! I figure that’s about where Christ is sitting.

      But that is the question Pratchett raises, “How do you know it’s God and not just you listening to yourself? Especially when what God tells you just happens to flatter you prejudices?”

      • His grandmother believed. So at one point there were two whole believers!

        I can say that is one thing that makes me question my faith. When I am reading some of the oldest stuff from the New Testament that is about as close to the time frame of Christ’s actual existence; I do find that I am uncomfortable with some of the things that Christ supposedly ordered directly. This is not the St. Paul stuff that just makes me want to slap him but the four books. Matthew is the only one that follows my own views and even then it is difficult. God shouldn’t be easy to deal with but the modern Christian churches make It so.

        • If it makes you feel better, my understanding is that the misogynistic stuff in Paul’s work is actually later and not written by Paul. I believe the same goes for most of the clear sexual hangups as well. Matthew is where we get the Sermon on the Mount. We get it in bits and pieces in Luke. But that’s some of the most beautiful text that I know of in the Bible. And that’s apart from its meaning, which is great. And you are right: the modern Christian churches make salvation too easy. Certainly, the early Christians wouldn’t recognize things like a personal god. It’s nutty. But we are a lazy people.

          I’m not sure about Brutha’s grandmother. She was very violent towards him. But Om makes it clear that many other people believed in him at one time. I think Om learned a valuable lesson: you have to take care of your followers.

          • My problems with the sexual and misogynistic side of the Christian faith aside…There are some portions that I think if you focus on them make you a better person. That would be as already mentioned Matthew.
            John Scalzi had a good post about what to call the Christians that seem to all about blindly following a set of rules to achieve salvation.
            http://www.scalzi.com/whatever/002675.html

            I know she was violent but Brutha repeatedly thinks about how she Believed which why he was not called but sent. I agree that Om learned a lesson that we all should learn-take care of those in your life.

            • I thought the lesson was to be nice to tortoises. Hmm…

              I agree about Christianity. There is much to admire in it. But I can say the same of all religions. But all religions start off as revolts and end up ossified and determined to stop any further revolts. But despite this, I think there are a lot of fine Christians. They are a great minority, of course.

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