On 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.