2020 has been a difficult year for End Times televangelist Jim Bakker.
His troubles began in February, when he used his daily television program to suggest a silver solution sold by his network could protect viewers from the COVID-19 coronavirus.
The Jim Bakker Show is suggesting that the silver solution it sells can kill the coronavirus within 12 hours. pic.twitter.com/kbUGnUp69m
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) February 12, 2020
After Right Wing Watch reported that claim, the New York Attorney General’s office warned Bakker to stop “making misleading claims” about the product and the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission ordered Bakker to “immediately cease making all such claims” about the effectiveness of the silver solution. On top of that, Bakker was also sued by the office of Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt “for misrepresentations about the effectiveness of ‘Silver Solution’ as a treatment for 2019 novel coronavirus.”
Bakker’s legal woes soon translated into financial problems when credit card processing companies cut off his Morningside Ministry, forcing Bakker to beg viewers to send in donations via cash or check.
Amid the turmoil, Bakker suffered a stroke and has been off the air since early May.
Yesterday, Bakker’s legal difficulties worsened when Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced that her office was also suing Bakker over his misrepresentations about his silver solution:
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced a lawsuit against Morningside Church Productions, Inc., which conducts business as The Jim Bakker Show, as well as Jim Bakker and Sherrill Sellman, for falsely telling Arkansas consumers that colloidal silver products would cure, eliminate, kill or deactivate COVID-19. The lawsuit was filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court under the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
“Jim Bakker has exploited Arkansas consumers by leveraging COVID-19 fears to sell over $60,000 worth of their products that do nothing to fight the virus,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Let me be clear, this case is not about freedom of religion. This is a consumer fraud case and I urge any Arkansans who have experience with these false advertisements claiming silver to be a COVID-19 cure to immediately call my office.”
Approximately 385 Arkansans made purchases from Bakker’s company totaling approximately $60,524 for colloidal silver products between January 1 and March 9, 2020.
In February 2020, The Jim Bakker Show hosted Sherrill Sellman who falsely claimed the colloidal silver products hawked by Jim Bakker were “proven by the government to have the ability to kill every pathogen it has ever been tested on, including SARS and HIV… .” Both Bakker and Sellman have separately received warning letters from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for selling unapproved drugs to cure or prevent COVID-19. The FDA had previously stated that silver products are not scientifically recognized to be safe and effective.
Rutledge is seeking restitution for affected consumers, injunctive relief, and civil penalties. Violations of the ADTPA may be assessed with a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per violation.