controversies, religion

Repost: Ernest Angley’s descent into scandal…

I’m reposting this entry from my original blog dated October 15, 2014. Ernest Angley has since died, and I’m leaving this as/is, because I don’t feel like editing it today. It’s being reposted because it was a very popular post, and I want to keep it for posterity.

If you read this blog on a regular basis, you know that I like to watch religious television programming sometimes.  It’s not because my soul needs saving.  I just find it hilarious.  Now that I’m in Germany again and have no access to the religious channels that plague most American satellite and cable systems, I’ve gotten away from watching TBN and the BYU channel.  I can, however, still watch Ernest Angley, because his show is on the Internet and available everywhere.

To be honest, I find Angley a pretty dull speaker and his toupee is annoying.  I watch his show because of the shitty musicians.  I mean, they aren’t bad musicians in terms of their skill.  It’s just that the music is so corny and lame.  It’s mostly country and bluegrass flavored and apparently written in house, no doubt so that Angely’s ministry doesn’t have to pay anyone royalties.  The songs are often kind of graphic, with lyrics about being “washed in the blood of Jesus”, as if Jesus Christ’s blood was some kind of heavy duty soul detergent.  Angley’s ministry is extremely protective of its “intellectual property” (and I use that term very loosely).  You’ll never find any critical videos of Angley on YouTube because they get copyright claimed at the drop of a hat.  But you can watch it on the Internet and cringe like I do. 

An example of the music on Ernest Angley’s show.
And it looks like one of the soloists in the above clip is also quite engaging on camera…

Until yesterday, I mostly thought of this “ministry” as kind of cornball and stupid.  But then a Facebook friend posted an article about a huge scandal erupting at Angley’s Cuyahoga Falls church in Ohio.  The article my friend posted was a rather slanted blog type thing, so I decided to go to the article it was based upon, one in a series on Angley’s Grace Cathedral ministry posted in Akron’s Beacon Journal.  Reporter Bob Dyer interviewed a number of people who had left the church, including a former pastor named Brock Miller who left the ministry on July 4th.  Miller contends that for seven years, Angley “violated” him by being sexually inappropriate.  Angley claims he was giving the man a “special anointing”.

Apparently, people who leave Angley’s church are shunned and criticized by name during worship services.  Mr. Miller is being accused of being a drug addict and liar by Angley’s associate pastor, Chris Machamer, who is a star of every telecast as a “guest host”.  I can barely stand to listen to Machamer speak because he’s so fake and plastic and has no charisma.  Angley himself claims that Miller is an adulterer.  Machamer claims that Miller just wants to take over the church once Angley finally kicks the bucket.

I don’t know what the whole truth is, but there are enough stories by people claiming that Angley was doing bad stuff that I tend to believe the good televangelist and his henchmen are simply engaging in character assassination and trying to discredit the victims by claiming that they have serious character flaws.  Miller reportedly didn’t initiate this expose of Grace Cathedral and its apparently toxic environment.  In fact, Bob Dyer writes that Miller repeatedly refused interview requests and had nothing to gain by accusing Angley of being highly inappropriate.  Think about it.  You’re a man who believes in God and has been taught to keep your dirty laundry out of sight.  Why would a guy like Miller want to speak publicly about allowing another man to examine his genitals, especially if he’s a conservative Christian?  I’m guessing that Mr. Miller is pretty humiliated by all of this, but finally felt he had to do something to preserve his dignity.  Indeed, Miller emphasizes that he’s not accusing Angley of homosexual behavior, but of “violating” him.

Because Miller lived in church owned housing, after he went public with his story, he and his wife had to move.  Miller and his wife were both homeschooled and neither got education beyond that.  They don’t have jobs or qualifications to work elsewhere.  Now they are living with another family member and this very embarrassing and personal news is being broadcast worldwide.  I think Brock Miller was brave to speak out.  It would have been easy to just wait it out until Angley finally croaks, but he couldn’t take it anymore.  And good on him.  He shined a light on his abuser.  Indeed, he’s not the first to say something.  Here’s another person’s account of what it was like to be raised in Angley’s “church” for 12 years. 

I can only guess that a lot of musicians attend Angley’s church because he likely gives them work.  Jobs for musicians can be hard to find and churches can be good places to find steady, gainful employment.  Angley gives these folks plenty to do, too.  There’s one guy who plays in the Gospel Five– good looking guy– who was probably a band geek in high school.  He plays drums and saxophone and sings pretty well, better than most of the other guys singing with him.  There’s a good looking bass guitar player who can’t sing very well, but plays his bass in the cornball rockabilly style Angley seems to favor. 

I notice some nepotism, too.  Chris Machamer’s relative (I assume she’s his wife, but I don’t know for certain), Maria, is a singer,  She’s very small and meek looking and seems to try hard to sound like Alison Krauss.  And I believe another relative is also involved in the church.  I’ve seen her on camera talking about fundraising for “missions”.

Angelia Oborne, a woman who was a member of the church with her husband, claims that Angley encouraged followers to have abortions and vasectomies.  My heart goes out to Oborne, since she and her husband can’t have kids.  He had a vasectomy at Angley’s urging and now she’s 35 and doesn’t think she can conceive.  Since my husband also had a vasectomy and it was later reversed, I understand her sorrow.  My husband’s reversal was done for free and I was 31 years old at the time.  We didn’t conceive, and I was sad about it for awhile.  Now that I’m older, it matters less.  But she’s still young enough and it is heartbreaking that they made this poor decision while under the influence of cult thinking.  And now they have to live with the consequences for the rest of their lives.  Angley claims the world is going to hell, so his followers are encouraged to avoid having children.  ETA: In 2023, two links from the original post no longer work. I have unlinked them.   

I will be watching for updates on this story.  Seems like sooner or later, these televangelists get exposed somehow.  This has been a long time coming.  ETA: Indeed, there was more to the story, which I posted about later. I will probably repost my comments about the scandal later.

Standard
communication, complaints, condescending twatbags, language, rants, religion

Oh my God, how OBNOXIOUS!

The featured photo is of a t-shirt offered on Amazon.com. I probably ought to order it for the warmer days that are rapidly approaching.

I hope everybody had a nice Valentine’s Day. Mine was pretty quiet. Thanks to COVID-19, and the general doldrums that have come about because of that, plus Bill’s busy status at work, the crappy weather, and just the fact that I’m getting older and more crotchety, Valentine’s Day was pretty low key. I didn’t even write any fresh content yesterday, even though I had a couple of topics in mind. I just wasn’t in the mood.

But anyway, Bill delivered. I got a beautiful bouquet of roses and one of Bill’s trademark mushy cards. My Amazon.com orders came in, and I got two new box sets of forgotten 70s and 80s era shows I loved as a kid. And, glory of glories, I also got new underwear! Unfortunately, they are not made of my preferred combed cotton knit, but of some kind of yucky “super soft” material. It’s probably modal, or something like that. I have had them before, and didn’t like them… and I guess I failed to realize I had ordered them again. Oh well. At least they aren’t stained yet.

Bill is home today, because he’s taking three classes from the Jung Institute in Zurich. Originally, our plan was to go to Switzerland so he could attend in person, but COVID-19 fucked that up, too. Ironically, even Germany is talking about loosening restrictions very soon– like, next week, “loosening” is supposed to commence. But I doubt that will mean the same to most Americans as it does to me.

The fucking face masks will still be required… the heavier, “coffee filter” ones, that I absolutely loathe, which haven’t actually stopped the spread of the virus. Yeah, I know this makes me sound like an “anti-masker”, which maybe I am on some level. I am an anti-masker in the sense that I want them to eventually go away. I recognize their utility in crowds, when the virus is running amok and there are no vaccines. But it’s been almost two years, and we’re all so tired. When Germany says it will “loosen” restrictions, that means that they’ll stop with the 2G+ nonsense… meaning to go into a business or restaurant, one must be fully vaccinated AND tested or boosted. Or the even more ridiculous 2G++ requirement– vaxxed, boosted, and tested. And they’ll let more people visit each other or be indoors. They’re just doing this because spring is coming, and they want people to spend money. As far as I’m concerned, if I have to wear a coffee filter, I’d rather stay home, or go to a place where I don’t have to wear a coffee filter. Which brings me to my next topic…

Apologies to the person on my friends list who posted the below photo if s/he finds my upcoming comments offensive or shaming. I honestly feel the need to discuss this… because again, how obnoxious…

I saw this yesterday and had to scratch my head a bit. Besides the apostrophe abuse, the message is just fucked up.

I’m about 100 percent sure the person who shared the above photo meant well. It was probably meant to inspire thought… or maybe a sense of shame. I don’t know. I would expect that the people who saw this were friends, and I would hope the person’s friends weren’t the type of people who would need to be reminded to be ashamed about the horrors of the Jim Crow era. I don’t think this photo quite sends a logical message.

Let’s stop and think about the two situations being compared for just a minute. In one situation, a person encounters a “masks only” sign. That means he or she must either put on a mask to enter an establishment, or go home and order online. That sign has nothing to do with anything beyond the person’s control. It’s a matter of choice. Wear a mask and do your business, or go home and order online. Simple, right?

The other situation involves people being excluded simply because they have dark skin. That’s something beyond their control. The people in that photo can’t just go home and change skins or order online. What’s more, having dark skin isn’t like spreading a contagious and potentially deadly disease. Being a person of color isn’t contagious, nor would I say it’s a negative thing. It just is. By contrast, nobody sane wants to catch COVID-19.

Looking at the meme again, I also think that the comparisons are kind of like apples and oranges in terms of the “victims”. I mean, most “woke” people routinely condemn the so called “obnoxious” anti-maskers among us, right? They say things like, “It’s just a strip of cloth.” or “It’s no big deal.” or “Just get with the program so we can get beyond the pandemic.” And when anti-maskers or anti-vaxxers happen to fall ill with COVID-19, the pro-face mask crusaders then have a good laugh. Some of them really yuk it up when some of those people end up dying due to their ignorance and stubbornness, as they self-righteously continue with their preaching about showing compassion and consideration during the COVID-19 era.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am fully onboard with vaccines. I will even admit that masks are a good idea in crowds, when the virus is especially deadly, there are no effective treatments, and people aren’t vaccinated. I just want the masks to go away someday. I dream of a day when we can be in public again and not have to deal with annoying rules. And until that day comes, I’ll probably just mostly stay home and order things online. I’m not going to protest or get into a fight with someone over wearing a mask. I probably just won’t do business with them in person, if I can help it. That’s my choice. I don’t mind making that choice, and I’m sure the people in public life are fine with me not being around them. They won’t even know the difference. Because seriously… how obnoxious! I know I am, so I will spare everyone.

But when it comes to the other part of the meme– the part where we’re asked to consider how people of color felt when they encountered a “whites only” sign, I just don’t think that quite compares to being asked to put on a mask. Most decent people roundly condemn the Jim Crow laws. A “whites only” sign would be very offensive to them. The same group of people would probably not be offended by a “masks only” sign. Get it?

Apparently, a lot of people didn’t think about this photo for as long as I did, since it went viral. But when I clicked on the photo my friend shared, it took me to the original post. There was a lively discussion going on, with many people who could see the same issue with it that I see. These two situations simply don’t compare. One person commented that this meme was one of the stupidest things she’d ever seen. I wouldn’t be quite that harsh. I think the person who made it probably meant well. I just wish he or she had given it a bit more thought, just as I wish those who are sharing it, presumably with their friends, would consider it a little more.

How is that photo supposed to make your friends feel? Is it your intent to shame your friends? Because, honestly, that’s how I felt when I saw it. And then I felt pretty annoyed. Don’t we have enough to be concerned about these days without conflating two such serious issues that don’t really measure up to each other? Is it really anyone’s intentions to offend their friends on social media? I do hate the face masks and I chomp at the bit for the day when we can ditch them. But I don’t think being asked to wear a mask in order to slow down a contagious disease compares, in any way, with the horrors of the Jim Crow laws. They are totally different concepts.

I suspect the photo was intended to shame anti-maskers by reminding them of how horrible and difficult it’s been for truly oppressed people. I think it really misses the mark, though, and oversimplifies things. I would hope that your friends don’t really need this kind of shaming.

I’m getting pretty tired of people on social media using it as a means of being sanctimonious to other people, anyway. I know a lot of people do it. They like getting on a soap box, and social media makes it easy and relatively safe to do so. It’s still very annoying, though, and probably not that effective, especially toward friends. Or, at least, that’s my take. All it does is spread unnecessary negativity. In fact, I find the practice highly obnoxious. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Moving on to another obnoxious topic. That would be Paula White, televangelist extraordinaire. The other day, James of Fundie Fridays did an excellent video about her. I think Paula White is extremely obnoxious. I thought so when I first discovered her on TBN back in 2003 or so. I used to watch her show for fun, because I found her so incredibly over-the-top. But then she became our most obnoxious former president’s “spiritual advisor”, which gave her an even bigger platform. And she really showed us the crazy, didn’t she?

If you are at all interested in Paula White and her crazy story, you should watch James’s video. My only criticism of the video is that James went on a little bit longer than he probably needed to; and he used a few too many Journey references, since Paula is currently married to Jonathan Cain, who plays keyboards for Journey. But overall, I think he did an excellent job of exposing the crazy shit that spews from Paula White’s collagen plumped lips. Bravo, James!

Good gawd. How obnoxious!!!

I probably would have written a whole post devoted to the above Paula White dedicated video, especially since I know that James and Jen of Fundie Fridays have become very popular and, hey, I like to ride on the coattails of other people’s successes when I can, right? Because I am obnoxious that way… I have noticed that people hit this blog because I’ve written about Fundie Fridays. So it’s not a bad thing when I mention that channel, because it’s a win/win. It exposes new people to their content, and possibly mine, too. I don’t aim to be as popular as they are, but it’s not a bad thing to get some ad revenue. Maybe enough to buy beer? That would be nice.

In the interest of not pulling a “James”, I’m gonna wrap this up and do some guitar practice. Sorry to be so obnoxious this morning. Noyzi put that theme in my head, as he was galloping through the house like a freak as Bill prepared to walk him and Arran. As he came whizzing past us in his joy, I said, “Oh my God! How OBNOXIOUS!” I love the word “obnoxious”. It’s a word that people have used to describe me since the day I was born. I might as well own my obnoxiousness with this obnoxious post. I don’t enjoy offending people, and I’m truly sorry that some people think I’m obstreperous. That’s another reason I stay home. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Anyway, hope y’all have a good day. And if my friend finds my commentary on the above meme obnoxious, I do apologize. But, if I’m honest, I really think the meme really gets it wrong and, to be frank, I was a bit offended by it, and felt the need to vent. So, I’m sorry if I offend, but not sorry that I wrote on this topic. I hope we can still be friends. ๐Ÿ™‚

And just to be even more obnoxious, below is a link to Amazon, where you can purchase the t-shirt… and I will get a small commission from Amazon, if you do. See? Another win/win.

Standard
bad TV, obits, religion, Trump

Another one bites the dust…

Yet another song from my childhood that has great relevance today… It will always remind me of roller skating, though.

This morning, Bill is working from home. He got a Moderna booster shot yesterday afternoon. By the evening, he had chills and was feeling kind of rotten. By 4:00am, he had a headache and a fever. Today, he’s a bit tired, but the fever is down. Since he and a bunch of his colleagues got their boosters this week, a lot of them are teleworking. I expect I’ll be boosted soon, since today marks six months since I got my last shot. I don’t look forward to feeling rotten, although I didn’t feel terrible after the initial vaccines. Maybe I’ll get lucky and not have a bad reaction.

Some people still aren’t on the vaccination bandwagon. Some people still think COVID-19 is a hoax– some kind of world domination scheme intended to enslave the population. Well… I think that thinking is a special kind of stupid. But some people are stubborn and they have to learn the hard way. Enter Marcus Lamb, the latest Christian “media mogul” who has “gone home to be with the Lord”. Yep… Mr. Lamb, who was 64 years old, was a COVID-19 conspiracy theorist and vaccine skeptic. And now, he has no more worries about his health. In fact, he HAS NO HEALTH anymore. He’s DEAD. Another one bites the dust!

Marcus Lamb was a founder of Daystar, the second largest Christian television network in the world. From the beginning of the pandemic, Lamb and his cronies focused heavily on the virus, calling it a “satanic attack” and denouncing vaccines. Daystar reaches 2 billion people worldwide, and according to Michelle Boorstein, a reporter with the Washington Post, appeals to the masses with “a fluid, modern, charismatic faith, more about general good vs. evil, miraculous healings and religious freedom than any specific denominational theology.”

Earlier in the pandemic, Lamb invited many vaccine skeptics to promote their conspiracy theories on his network. They hosted daily interviews with these pro-religion/anti-science folks, during which they discussed how vaccines were being pushed by “hidden satanic forces” and “stealing Christians’ freedoms”. I just want to ask Lamb and his buddies– what the hell good is “freedom” if you’re dead?

Now, in fairness to Marcus Lamb, he did reportedly suffer from diabetes. Diabetes can worsen COVID infection. Lamb also had other risk factors that were likely to make his illness more severe. Mr. Lamb was over 60 and male. And it’s obvious that he was hanging out with other people and ignoring safety protocols. I would be very surprised if anyone working at Daystar was taking precautions against contracting COVID-19. Clearly, they had the “answers”, right? Maybe not, since according to Lamb’s wife, Joni, Marcus Lamb got “COVID pneumonia”, which helped lead him to his untimely death.

In a Facebook Live video, Joni explains why and how Marcus Lamb died. Apparently, his heart gave out while he was in the hospital, receiving oxygen. Joni explains:

โ€œWe were trying to treat the covid and pneumonia with the different protocols we use, including the ones we talk about on Daystar,โ€ she said on the show. โ€œWe used those โ€” I myself used them and had breezed through covid.โ€

His blood sugar spiked and he needed oxygen, she said. โ€œHe 100 percent believed in everything we talk about here on Daystar, things that help so many people around the world with early protocol treatments for covid,โ€ she said. โ€œWe still stand by those, obviously.โ€

I watched some of the people on the above Facebook Live video who spoke about Marcus Lamb. They all appeared to be genuinely grief stricken that he’s dead. And maybe they take comfort in the belief that Lamb will be a lamb of God, up in Heaven with all of the other Christian wingnuts who have been promoting anti-vaxxer and government conspiracy bullshit. I just don’t know what it will take to convince people that this is not a joke. COVID-19 is killing people, and while faith and hope is all well and good, God gave us science for a reason. Obviously Lamb was a believer in medicine, since he went to the hospital for care. So why wasn’t he a believer in vaccines?

What really disturbs me about the case of Marcus Lamb and the other so-called Christian media moguls who have gotten sick with COVID-19 and died, is that there are so many people who watch and listen to what they say and do. Many lonely, sick, or elderly people who are isolated watch programs on Daystar or similar networks. And they are influenced by these people who give them hope, or at least a narrative that they agree with and can use to bolster their false beliefs against science.

According to the Washington Post article I linked, “White evangelical Christians resist coronavirus vaccines at higher rates than other religious groups in the United States, a phenomenon experts say is bound up in politics, skepticism about government and the consumption of alternative media and unfounded conspiracy claims about vaccine dangers.” When I think about the kinds of people who watch Daystar and its ilk, I think Daystar was giving evangelical Christians exactly what they wanted. And they were doing it, not because it’s the best thing for their followers, but because it brought in more money and power.

Not surprisingly, Lamb was a Trump supporter. Last year, Lamb appeared in a photo with Trump, at an “Evangelicals for Trump” rally. Honestly, anyone who calls themselves God fearing Christians, but support Donald Trump– who is about as un-Christlike as a person can get– has missed the point entirely. I mean, supporting Trump and being “Christian” is kind of contradictory behavior, isn’t it? And yet, a lot of people are doing it, and ignoring the facts. I don’t understand and can’t abide it, but hey, at least it’s obviously hastening their chances to find out if Heaven is real.

I am not a big fan of televangelists. At most, I am kind of fascinated by their nerve. So many so-called religious leaders are really more interested in power and money than they are promoting God. As I wrote yesterday, organized religion has ruined many people, and many families. So many people have killed or died over religion. So many families have been ruined over clashes in religious beliefs or lack thereof. But I don’t equate religion with a belief in a higher power. The fact is, I don’t think of myself as a very religious person, but I do have a belief in God. I don’t know why I do, but I do. That, to me, isn’t the same as being “religious”.

Daystar has faced some controversies, too, as have many “prosperity gospel ministries”, which promote the idea that in order to get God’s favor, one must give money. And of course, the televangelists promote the idea that they are the ones who should benefit from the largesse of hopeful followers of Christ. They promise that you give them money, you will be blessed. But so often, it turns out all that happens is that the people who donate their “grocery money” only get poorer. It’s sad that so many people who follow “false prophet” televangelists and corrupt “leaders” like Donald Trump never see that they are working against their own interests.

But anyway… condolences to Marcus Lamb’s friends and family members. Truly, I am sorry to hear about Lamb’s death. I can see that he had some people in his life who are sad that he’s gone, and I don’t want to discount their pain and grief at losing him. I take heart in the realization that maybe some people will learn from Lamb’s sudden passing.

Now to get on with my day… gotta do the vacuuming, practice guitar, and walk the dogs, since the sun actually peeked out from behind the clouds for a few minutes. Hope everyone has a nice Thursday.

Standard
condescending twatbags, religion, stupid people, TV

Jim Bakker NEEDS your money or they’ll cancel his show!

I remember back in the 1980s, when televangelists were all over the news for various scandals involving sex and fleecing their flocks. Jim Bakker was, in those days, a charismatic leader of the PTL network. He, along with his ex wife, the late Tammy Faye Bakker, had a vision to create a Christian utopia in Heritage USA, a Christian theme park and housing development that never quite came to fruition.

Bakker was later busted by the feds for defrauding his followers. I clearly recall how he went into a fetal position and had to be committed for a psych evaluation while he was on trial for fraud. He was originally sentenced to 45 years in prison, but the sentence was later reduced to eight years. He was paroled on December 1, 1994, after serving almost five years in a minimum security prison in Georgia. A few years later, he met his second wife, Lori. By 2003, he and Lori were back in the televangelism game, having launched a new program, which still runs today.

You’d think people would be wise to Jim Bakker, after his very public sex scandal and fraud case in the late 1980s. But no, he’s still got a platform, and he’s still peddling shit to the gullible. I don’t make a point of keeping up with what he’s doing, although I have to admit, he’s kind of a fascinating character. Below is a very disturbing video, complete with hilarious music, that shows Jim Bakker combining talk of the apocalypse, championing Donald Trump, and selling buckets of slop that can double as toilets or furniture.

You have to see it to believe it. What a fucking charlatan!

In the 1980s, I was kind of dimly aware of what was going on, since I was a teenager at the time. I avoided religion like the plague. But I do remember that Jim Bakker wasn’t the only daring televangelist in those days. In 1987, televangelist Oral Roberts told his followers that he was going to begin an intense prayer and fasting vigil that would last until he raised $8 million for a medical scholarship program. In a letter he sent to his flock, Roberts wrote that God had ordered him to raise the money by the end of March 1987, or he would die. According to an article from the Washington Post dated February 28, 1987:

The evangelist wrote that he will ascend the Prayer Tower at Oral Roberts University to begin praying and fasting.

“If I go from there to Jesus, I will see you in heaven. But I believe that won’t happen, because I believe our God will do this mighty thing and at the end of March, you and I will know the miracle has happened and the Gospel will go to the nations,” he said.

In the end, Roberts managed to raise $9.1 million. He died on December 15, 2009. At least Oral Roberts was raising money for a decent cause, even if the way he did it was highly manipulative and controversial.

Jim Bakker, like Oral Roberts before him, is also looking to raise a lot of money. This week, he told his followers in a panicky tone of voice that his show would be canceled if he didn’t pay what he owes his network. He says that he owes about a million dollars. According to DEADState, Bakker said:

โ€œWeโ€™ve lost millions in finances due to the legal battles weโ€™ve fought, losing our ability to receive donations by credit cards for over a year โ€” has left us in a desperate state… But what the Devil has tried to do is silence our voice.โ€

Bakker continued,

โ€œIโ€™m asking you as a friend and longtime supporter of this ministry, valued partners, will you help us? Turn this wolf away from our door.โ€

Oh dear! What will we do without Jim Bakker’s show?

Regardless of what I think of Jim Bakker and his sleazy fundraising tactics, I’ve got to admit the man has a lot of moxie. And even though I think he’s a swindler, he does have charisma and a knack for appealing to a certain segment of the population. He’s even entertaining as he pulls the wool over people’s eyes. One of the funniest parts of Vic Berger’s Best of Jim Bakker YouTube video, posted above, is when Bakker tries to convince people that the slop in the bucket is delicious. He’s definitely game for peddling bullshit, and there’s something to be said for that. A lot of fortunes have been made by people who can sell ice to Eskimos.

I think televangelists are a fascinating lot. So many of them push the prosperity gospel, selling the idea that personal wealth is a sign of God’s favor. The whole lot of these evangelists wear expensive clothes, have coiffed hair (or in the case of the late Ernest Angley, outrageous wigs), and wear jewelry. They live in fancy homes, drive pricey cars, and never flinch as they demand “love gifts” for their bogus ministries. So many people buy into the fantasy that all they have to do is pray and send money and they will somehow be “blessed”. Mark Knopfler even wrote a fabulous song about this phenomenon, which his band Dire Straits recorded in 1991…

A beautiful song by Dire Straits… but people often miss the real meaning of this song and take the lyrics seriously. This song is sarcastic, and it’s about evangelists who rip off the gullible. People think that by sending money, they’re buying a “Ticket to Heaven”.

Here are the lyrics to “Ticket to Heaven”

I can see what you’re looking to find
In the smile on my face
In my peace of mind
In my state of grace

I send what I can
To the man from the ministry
He’s a part of heaven’s plan
And he talks to me

Now I send what I can to the man
With the diamond ring
He’s a part of heaven’s plan
And he sure can sing

Now it’s all I can afford
But the Lord has sent me eternity
It’s to save the little children
In a poor country

I got my ticket to heaven
And everlasting life
I got a ride all the way to paradise
I got my ticket to heaven
And everlasting life
All the way to paradise

Now there’s nothing left for luxuries
Nothing left to pay my heating bill
But the good Lord will provide
I know he will

So send what you can
To the man with the diamond ring
They’re tuning in across the land
To hear him sing

I got my ticket to heaven
And everlasting life
Got a ride all the way to paradise
I got my ticket to heaven
And everlasting life
All the way to paradise

As far as I’m concerned, Mark Knopfler is a god. I would much sooner follow him than Jim Bakker. What’s especially funny, though, is that a lot of people think “Ticket to Heaven” is a beautiful song that is literally about going to Heaven. It’s not. It’s an indictment against people like Jim Bakker and his ilk, cheating poor, ignorant, lonely, God fearing, people out of their money. When you think about it, Jim Bakker has a lot in common with Donald Trump. In fact, he is one of Trump’s admirers.

Eeew.

I only watch televangelists to ridicule them and be mildly entertained by their antics. Sadly, a lot of people think these so-called religion peddlers can help them. It’ll be interesting to see if Jim Bakker manages to save his show from oblivion. It’s kind of inspired that Jim Bakker peddles buckets of food and shovels to prepare for the apocalypse… they make handy receptacles for all the bullshit he shovels. We really should start taxing these fake religious motherfuckers.

Standard
book reviews, religion

Repost: Jim Bakker and his fall from grace…

I am inspired to repost this book review I wrote for Epinions.com, back in 2010, about the bookย Forgiven: The Rise and Fall of Jim Bakker and the PTL Ministry. The reason I’m inspired is because, today, I watched Fundie Friday’s excellent video about Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. I was reminded of this very comprehensive book by Charles E. Shepard and how much I learned about Jim and Tammy Faye’s ministry before it all fell apart in the late 1980s. I also reposted this review in 2014, so I’m going to post the whole thing as/is. At the bottom of this post, look for Fundie Friday’s video. It’s a good one!

From 2014

I was about fifteen years old when televangelists Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye Bakker ran into big trouble when they were discovered to be misusing financial “love gifts” sent by their viewers.  I never forgot seeing Jim Bakker curl up in a fetal position when he was sentenced to 45 years in prison for fraud.

In 2010, I found a fascinating book about the rise and fall of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker and the PTL  network.  I wrote a review of the book Forgiven: The Rise and Fall of Jim Bakker and the PTL Ministry.  This book is currently out of print, but if you are interested in the Bakkers in the 80s, it’s a great read.  It’s very comprehensive and informative and if you have the time and the inclination, well worth your attention.  I bet you can find used copies on Amazon, too.

And now the review, circa 2010…

A couple of weeks ago, I was on YouTube watching old videos from the 1980s, when I ran across a video of televangelist Jerry Falwell addressing members of the PTL Club.  The year was 1987 and the PTL Club was in the midst of a scandal involving its founder, Jim Bakker, and his wife, Tammy Faye.  On the YouTube video I found, Jerry Falwell was explaining to the audience about the situation that developed with Heritage USA, Jim Bakker’s overly ambitious and overextended project.  

Heritage USA was supposed to be a sort of Christian oasis, where Christians could live, work, worship, and play together.  Jim Bakker was planning to build hotels, theme parks, churches, TV studios, and restaurants.  Unfortunately, Bakker’s vision lacked proper financial planning and the whole thing ended up collapsing.  What’s more, the Charlotte Observer, a local newspaper, had discovered an unfortunate tryst Bakker had had back in 1980 with a 21 year old church secretary named Jessica Hahn.  In 1987, Jim Bakker and the PTL Club were going down in flames.  And Jerry Falwell had been called in to help salvage whatever could be saved.

The videos that prompted me to read this book in 2010.

I was 15 years old at the time of the PTL scandal.  Though I’ve always been interested in the unseemly world of televangelists, as a teenager, I didn’t really pay that much attention to what was going on with Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker.  Watching that video on YouTube and hearing Jerry Falwell get screamed at by an angry man in the PTL Club audience made me want to learn more about Jim Bakker’s story.  So off I went to Amazon.com, where I found Charles E. Shepard’s very comprehensive book, Forgiven: The Rise and Fall of Jim Bakker and the PTL Ministry

Forgiven was published in 1989 and is now out of print.  Nevertheless, I found it very interesting and well worth reading.  Shepard follows Jim Bakker’s life from his beginnings in Muskegon, Michigan all the way to his very public disgrace in the late 1980s when the world watched the collapse of his $160 million empire built on love gifts and the sale of bogus lifetime partnerships to loyal supporters of the PTL ministry.  Shepard also covers the late Tammy Faye Bakker Messner’s life, from the time she and Jim Bakker met at North Central Bible College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to the end of the ministry, when Bakker’s shady and sordid dealings were uncovered. 

Indeed, after reading this book and seeing Tammy Faye Bakker Messner on television in the years before she died of cancer, I have some empathy for what she must have gone through during the scandal.  Aside from having an affair with Jessica Hahn, Jim Bakker also allegedly had a number of homosexual trysts with men who worked in his ministry.  All of this dirty laundry, coupled with Tammy Faye’s own problems with drug abuse and people who mocked her for her tears and heavy makeup, must have been humiliating for her.  Shepard doesn’t really give Tammy much empathy in his book and, to be fair, I probably wouldn’t have either had I written it.  Back in 1989, Tammy Faye Bakker wasn’t a very sympathetic character.  But in the years since the scandal, she revealed a very sweet, kind-hearted side of herself that wasn’t overshadowed by her ex husband’s massive ego.  I think Tammy Faye died in 2007 a redeemed woman.  

A raging narcissist   

As I read about Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s enormous salaries and bonuses, constant purchases of new cars and houses, expensive clothes and makeup, and ostentatious displays of extravagance, I couldn’t help but wonder if Jim Bakker was a narcissist.  The way Shepard describes Bakker’s behavior and the way he treated people, it sure seemed that way to me.  And lo and behold, at the end of the book, Shepard does offer the opinion that Bakker probably suffers from full blown narcissistic personality disorder.  Granted, Shepard is no mental health professional, but the signs were clearly evident to him.  He describes Bakker as a creative, charismatic person, the kind of man who needs to surround himself with loyal admirers whom he can exploit at will.  While I’m not really a mental health professional either, I have done my share of studying narcissistic behavior and I think Shepard is spot on about Jim Bakker.  Only a true narcissist could expect to get away with the blatant abuses that Bakker did for so many years.

Another reason this book was interesting to me   

I happened to grow up in Gloucester, Virginia, not at all far from Virginia Beach, Virginia, where Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network’s headquarters were located.  I grew up watching Robertson’s local Christian channel 27, WYAH. Based in Portsmouth, Virginia, WYAH happens to be the very same channel where Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker got their big break as televangelists.  Shepard includes some interesting information about Pat Robertson’s ministry as well as how his show, The 700 Club, got started with Jim’s and Tammy’s help.  I also learned how fellow televangelist Jimmy Swaggart, supposedly offended by the opulent spectacle of Bakker’s ministry, worked to bring him and the PTL down.  Having done some more reading about Swaggart and his ministry, I think he must be among the world’s biggest hypocrites.

Overall 

If you’re interested in learning more about the televangelists of the 1980s, I highly recommend Charles E. Shepard’s Forgiven: The Rise and Fall of Jim Bakker and the PTL Ministry.  This book takes an exhaustive approach to the subject, includes plenty of pictures (even one of Tammy Faye with no makeup on), and plenty of dirt. 

He took over Heritage USA with a splash…
Falwell was quite the scumbag… but I think his son may be even worse.

And this is the excellent “Bakkermania” video done by Fundie Fridays… I like that she praises Tammy Faye, who really did seem to redeem herself, while showing that Jim Bakker is just as narcissistic as ever…

Pretty much…

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

Standard