In 1989, televangelist Jim Bakker was convicted by a jury of 24 counts of fraud and conspiracy and sentenced to 45 years in prison for having bilked members of his Praise The Lord ministry out of hundreds of millions of dollars. Bakker had raised these funds by selling “lifetime partnerships” to viewers that entitled them to an annual free stay at his Heritage USA Christian theme park, but the number of partnerships sold far exceeded the park’s capacity and millions of dollars were diverted to fund Bakker’s own lavish lifestyle. Bakker’s sentence was subsequently reduced on appeal, and he was released from prison in 1994.
On Friday’s episode of his television program, “The Jim Bakker Show,” Bakker claimed that he had been framed by the government and insisted that his conviction and imprisonment were early examples of “cancel culture.”
“They canceled me,” Bakker said. “Mainly it was the media, and the media got a Pulitzer Prize for putting me in prison. That’s what they do, they reward the enemies of the gospel. And the cancel culture, we had the largest ministry of its type in the world—Heritage USA—millions of people came there, and it was millions being saved around the world, and they literally took it away.”
“That was what cancel culture is,” he continued. “One of the biggest agencies of the federal government produced video from my show video and edited it and put me in prison. They testified that it was that video that made people believe, ‘Well, something must be wrong.’ They made me say things I didn’t say. They just put pieces together, thousands of pieces of my show, and so when I went to trial for the last trial—after I got out of a prison, I was put on trial again—and in that, the lawyers got all that tape that the government had edited—the government did it! Just like now, this is cancel culture—and they took it apart and put it back the way it was on the show. And the lies—they made me tell lies that weren’t there—when the courts heard this, they saw the first video that the government had edited and then they saw the one from the original, they voted unanimously that I wasn’t guilty.”
“It was cancel culture,” Bakker declared. “They did everything to cancel me. Everything to erase me.”
Bakker’s claim that he was found not guilty by subsequent jury is misleading and self-serving, as author John Wigger explained in his book, “PTL: The Rise and Fall of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s Evangelical Empire.”