by Madeline Laughs
Remember Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker? That’s what I’m going to talk about today. Not them specifically, but *them* in general. So hold onto your hat because here we go!
Evangelists really piss me off.
I’d like to talk about the evangelist that is synonymous with the word Crook. That would be the Television Evangelist. It costs a small fortune just to be televised. Why not take all of that money they’re spending trying to get into your home everyday and spend it on the poor and needy? Why is it necessary to stand up there in their $5000 suit, with their $1200 shoes and their $300 haircut and talk to me about God?
When I was in high school my best friend’s mother discovered PTL Network. PTL was short for Praise the Lord. The television set in their house was tuned to that network 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Her mother donated thousands of dollars to them and sang their praises daily. I remember walking through the den and catching sight of Tammy Faye Bakker and wondering how in the world she was able to get that much mascara out of one tube!
The PTL Club, as it was known, aired for 13 years amassing millions of dollars in donations from unsuspecting believers. In 1975 Jim Bakker resigned his position after being accused of raping his secretary and was indicted and jailed in 1991 for the misappropriation of millions of church funds for his own personal gain. I remember hearing the details of the rape and thinking how sleazy it all sounded. After that I never watched another preacher on television.
When Bakker fell from grace, Jerry Falwell took over the network. He’s another piece of work. Falwell was from Lynchburg, VA and was famous for starting a movement he called the Moral Majority. He used this group to push his own sort of dogma which included slamming Martin Luther King and his beliefs about segregation. He supported Anita Bryant in her tirade against homosexuals and he pushed hard for abortion to be outlawed. He lobbied for the public school system to be overthrown and taken over by the churches so that our education could once again be run by Christians. He was continually condemned by his own peers as having political agendas that held no moral value at all.
But he is most famous for this;
“When the LGBT-friendly Metropolitan Community Church was almost accepted into the World Council of Churches, Falwell called them “brute beasts” and stated, “this vile and satanic system will one day be utterly annihilated and there’ll be a celebration in heaven.” He later denied this, but was successfully sued over the remark. Falwell also regularly linked the AIDS pandemic to LGBT issues and stated, “AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals, it is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals.” Amongst many remarks over the years he is probably most known for statements attributed to him about a Teletubby being a homosexual role model for homosexual recruitment and stating that LGBT organizations angered God, thereby in part causing God to let the September 11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina happen.
After comedienne and actress Ellen DeGeneres came out as a lesbian, Falwell referred to her in a sermon as “Ellen DeGenerate.” DeGeneres responded by saying “Really, he called me that? Ellen DeGenerate? I’ve been getting that since the fourth grade. I guess I’m happy I could give him work.”“
His church was also brought before the court for misappropriation of funds. They were released on a technicality.
Over the years, Falwell went up against many of today’s popular entities in an effort to silence them. Thankfully, he never prevailed. He would make outlandish statements and after being chastised for his belligerent and obnoxious behavior, he would later apologize. To no avail, the vitriol was already out there in our atmosphere, the damage of putting those toxic thoughts into other people’s minds, had been done.
I believe that Jerry Falwell would have gone to great lengths, without remorse, in order to make sure his beliefs were followed. And that is scary. He died from heart failure in 2007.
Pat Robertson is another example of the televangelist gone mad.
Pat has a daily talk show called The 700 Club. Why are all of these broadcasts called *clubs*? Don’t you get the feeling that in order to be a *member* you’d have to pay dues? Doesn’t it give you the feeling that there is an exclusionary agenda happening here? That’s because you do and there is.
I tuned in one day just to have a look and what I saw made me laugh out loud. Up on stage were a man and a woman, both overdressed in the tackiest get-ups ever, wearing a mask of makeup and spouting some religious mumbo jumbo while a toll free number scrolled the bottom asking for money. The camera panned the crowd, and the crowds were huge, but mainly the camera remained focused on the two folks on stage.
Pat Robertson’s critics said that his chats with God and his healing antics are always perfectly timed with the commercial breaks. Now that’s something I can believe.
Robertson was the person that gave Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker their start in television. That should tell you something right there.
Here’s some of the controversy surrounding Robertson and his attacks on our beliefs and way of life:
“Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, Pat Robertson claimed that the terrorist attacks were God’s punishment for America’s loose morals.
Immediately after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Pat Robertson said that it was “what happened when people make a deal with the Devil.”
The U.S. National Better Business Bureau says of the Christian Broadcasting Network and 700 Club: “…unable to verify the organization’s compliance with 5 of the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability” ABC Family also airs a disclaimer before the show saying “The following program does not reflect the views of ABC Family”.”
Oral Roberts was the pioneer of the televangelist. He started spreading his words using the radio and later graduated to the television screen. He gave Pat Robertson his start. I believe he is the root of the evangelical evil that pollutes our airwaves today.
“Roberts’ fund raising was controversial. In January 1987, during a fund raising drive, Roberts announced to a television audience that unless he raised $8 million by that March, God would “call him home.” Some were fearful that he was referring to suicide, given the impassioned pleas and tears that accompanied his statement. He raised $9.1 million. Later that year, he announced that God had raised the dead through Roberts’ ministry. Some of Roberts’ fund raising letters were written by Gene Ewing, who headed a business writing donation letters for other evangelicals such as Don Stewart and Robert Tilton.
Roberts maintained his love of finery and one obituary claimed that even when times become hard, “he continued to wear his Italian silk suits, diamond rings and gold bracelets – airbrushed out by his staff on publicity pictures”.
He stirred up controversy when Time reported in 1987 that his son Richard Roberts claimed that he had seen his father raise a child from the dead. That year, the Bloom County comic strip recast its character Bill the Cat as a satirized televangelist, “Fundamentally Oral Bill.” In 1987 Time stated that he was “re-emphasizing faith healing and [is] reaching for his old-time constituency.” However, his income continued to decrease (from $88 million in 1980 to $55 million in 1986, according to the Tulsa Tribune) and his largely vacant City of Faith Medical Center continued to lose money.
Harry McNevin said that in 1988 the ORU Board of Regents “rubber-stamped” the “use of millions in endowment money to buy a Beverly Hills property so that Oral Roberts could have a West Coast office and house”. In addition, he said a country club membership was purchased for the Roberts’ home. The lavish expenses led to McNevin’s resignation from the Board.
His organizations were also affected by scandals involving other televangelists and the City of Faith hospital was forced to close in 1989 after losing money. Roberts was forced to respond with the sale of his holiday homes in Palm Springs and Beverly Hills as well as three of his Mercedes cars.“”
Does this sound like someone helping the people to you? To me it reeks of someone only interested in helping himself. What Roberts created was a hive and a home for folks with this same skeevy need to follow in his footsteps. Don’t hand me some crap about the fine schools they all started! I’m sure all of them required a nice tax write-off, but what better way can you imagine to continue teaching and preaching your hate agenda? That’s right! In a school! I can only hope that the curriculum being offered evolves enough to eliminate graduating yet another hate monger into our society.
Who are these people? And why have we let them have this much control and this much exposure? It is obvious to me that their agendas are filled with hatred. Why do their congregations continue to swell? Why are so many people so eager to keep sending them money?
They rape the uneducated and the needy. They sodomize the insecure and the guilty. They are a cancer to society and as long as they exist, the hate and the violence will continue to breed among us like fungus.
I just don’t get it.
My friend Marc is a Buddhist. His favorite saying is “Do good things quietly”. He lives his life with love and peace in the forefront. Even when his life takes a nasty turn, he is always putting love first and striving to do all things in love and with love. He has never preached his beliefs to me or anyone else. He does good things…quietly.
Silence the hatemonger televangelist. Turn off your television sets. Go outside into your communities and find the needy, the uneducated, the guilty and the insecure and hold their hands. Spend your moments on this earth helping in the most crucial areas. Go straight to the source. Spend your dollars to feed someone, to clothe someone, to make someone smile and feel worthy.
Do good things. Do them for others. Do them quietly.
Can I get an Amen?
- Fall to Grace (afeatheradrift.wordpress.com)
- GODSTUFF: Jay Bakker on gays, his parents and grace (cathleenfalsani.com)
- Open letter to Jerry Falwell Jr. (steelcityskeptics.net)
- Return of the Televangelists (brettdavidpotter.wordpress.com)
- Exclusive: Jerry Falwell at the gates of Hell by Rocket Kirchner (dandelionsalad.wordpress.com)
- Jay Bakker Promotes LGBT Equality With New Book (pinkbananaworld.com)