Here is another installment of What Would Jesus Do Wednesdays by comedian and author Nathan Timmel. I’m going to add a thought or three at the end of the piece.
If you are old enough, you’ll remember Jim Bakker from the 1980s. He was a televangelist along with his wife, clown makeup connoisseur Tammy-Faye Bakker.
Together, they were part of the founders of the 700 Club, which should grant them each a “Profile of Courage” honor. The thing is: Tammy-Faye has passed on, and it’s not nice to pick on the departed. Plus, Jim has done so much more than been a cornerstone of the 700 Club. He really deserves this.
Why? Well, after breaking away from the 700 Club, Jim founded the PTL (“Praise the Lord”) Club.
He’d go on TV and beg people to send him money, so that those people (the viewers) could get into heaven. Yes, that’s right: he had the courage to tell people the way to heaven was through his bank account. Screw John 14:6, where Jesus blathered on about being “the way and the truth,” and that “No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Pshaw. What does Jesus know?
Jim Bakker knew that by people sending him money, they could be saved.
Now, like already said about being a founder of the 700 Club, you’d think this would be enough to earn Jim a “Profile of Courage,” but there’s oh-so-much more.
While hosting the PTL Club, Jim “drugged and raped” (her words) one Jessica Hahn.
Yes, while telling viewers how to live their lives for Jesus, he was taking advantage of his own secretary.
(Note: Bakker says the sex was consensual, but if you look at a picture of the two of them at the time, there’s no way you’re believing she looked at him and thought, “Yeah, I want a piece of that.”)
But wait, there’s more!
After using viewer donations to bribe Hahn into silence, Bakker was found out and sentenced to jail. And once in jail? Well, he admits that during his stint in the pokey he finally got around to reading the Bible.
Read that again: before going to jail, he was a televangelist. He’d tell people how Jesus wanted them to lead their lives, but he had never read the Bible. It was only while in jail that Mr. Bakker picked up the book he was preaching and studied it.
What did he discover? The Bible has helicopters in it!
Is this guy great, or what?
But. Wait. There’s. More.
Now, you’d think that jail might change a man. Make him see the error of his ways and all. Not Jim Bakker. No, Bakker has a will of steel. Jail gave him the necessary time to reflect and understand that he’d been preaching the wrong message. “Send me your money!” wasn’t the message Bakker wanted to send, it was “End of times! End of times!”
Of course, his website accepts donations, because where would you be without the ability to send Bakker your hard-earned bucks? You can sign up to send Bakker $20, $50, $100, or $500.
“Just once?” you ask.
Of course not! You can help Jim Bakker “make it” with a recurring monthly donation of $500, should you choose.
“Why, that’s only $6,000 a year!” you say.
And you’re right.
You can send $6,000 a year to a man who once swindled people out of millions, and used that money to pay off the woman he either raped (her words) or whom he had consensual sex with outside of his marriage (his words).
What could go wrong?
And, since his preaching focuses on the fall of society and living off the grid, what would you need your money for anyway?
I mean, what would Jim need it for, since the world is ending, BUT DON’T THINK LIKE THAT.
Just give him your money, because you don’t need it.
Jim Bakker: a true man of Jesus’ courage
And now for my two cents.
I saw The Jim Bakker Show a few years ago and the old man was pitching food buckets. Apparently, one of his scams is to sell survivalists food for the End Times. Don’t worry, there are gluten free food buckets!
I’d be remiss not mentioning Bakker’s failed attempt at creating and operating a theme park, Heritage USA. From looking at its pictures it looks like Chernobyl visited Disney Land and things didn’t go well.
In a weird way Jim Bakker is a figure of hope. Even if you’ve driven your life into a dumpster fire at the side of the road, you can still hop in that car and do it again and again and again.
Comedian and author Nathan Timmel writes WWJDW (What Would Jesus Do Wednesdays) here on Laughing in Disbelief. His books include Are You There, Xenu? It’s Me, Nathan and Hey Buddy…: Dubious Advice From Dad.
You can find Nathan on his site and @NathanTimmel on Twitter.