Jim Lori Bakker Morningside
Jim Bakker, alongside his wife Lori, continues his televangelism ministry through Morningside USA based in Branson, Missouri (Photo via Facebook)

Opinion: After Falling From Grace, Televangelist Jim Bakker Is Still On The Air

By Jillian Cheney

Welcome to Morningside, USA, technically located in Blue Eye, Missouri, just above the Arkansas border. It’s an apocalypse-proof, holistic community that looks like a cable TV set backdrop. It’s also the brand-new home of Jim Bakker, disgraced televangelist and doomsday preacher. 

“The Jim Bakker Show,” broadcast since 2003 on the new and revamped PTL Television Network, is a strange artifact of Christian televangelism. Bakker, who’s been broadcasting since the early 1970s, continues his ministry today in relative obscurity, no longer preaching about prosperity but instead about the coming apocalypse. 

“The PTL Club” was once the most widely viewed religious program on television. Now, “The Jim Bakker Show” is only broadcast on Roku, DirecTV, DISH Network and on demand. 

While reassuring to know his miniscule platform pivots from the most nefarious behavior of Bakker’s past, his show only serves as a disappointing reminder of what used to be the largest cultural touchpoint in Christianity. 

The Bakkers have been a recurring topic of discussion in the past year when many drew connections between Jim Bakker and Jerry Falwell Jr. and alongside the film release of “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.” Starring Andrew Garfield as Jim and Jessica Chatsain as Tammy Faye, the movie centers around Tammy Faye from her first meeting with Jim through the remainder of her life — her divorce from Jim, Jim’s imprisonment, the imprisonment of her second husband Roe Messner (who worked with Jim in construction of major projects) and her battles with addiction and cancer. 

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Jim has also made headlines in the past year for his “COVID-19 miracle cure” called “Silver Solution” that he was marketing on his show. Credit card companies refused to allow those sales, and Jim begged viewers to send checks instead to keep him from filing bankruptcy.  

Jim Lori Bakker
Jim and Lori Bakker (via Facebook)

PTL’s quick plummet among sex and money scandals resulted in a divorce between Jim and Tammy Faye in 1992. In 1998, Jim married his second wife, Lori, a youth minister who has written several books and hosted her own PTL show called “Life with Lori.”

Lori and Jim have hosted “The Jim Bakker Show” since 2003 in Branson; they moved to Morningside in 2008. According to Buzzfeed, original PTL partner Jerry Crawford offered an investment of $25 million for Morningside and still owns most of the land. “The Jim Bakker Show” has broadcast from the community since. 

No reservations are required to attend a taping of the show, and attendance is free. The Morningside website does offer this warning of sorts: “Please be advised that tapings of The Jim Bakker Show may last up to 6 hours. Audience members are welcome to stay for any portion of these tapings.” 

Most of the attendants of the show aren’t visitors, though, but rather members of the Morningside community who are renting or have purchased one of the condos on the property. Though these condos and other living accommodations are available for overnight stay for the visitor — there’s also onsite camping. Morningside amenities also include a chapel, a general store, a cafe, a center for pregnant women and a 15-foot-tall statue of Jesus. 

Morningside Jim Bakker
Grace Street studio in Morningside. (Creative Commons photo.)

In the same way that Morningside looks like a set recycled from a failed television pilot, “The Jim Bakker Show” — at least in its current era — feels like a recycled attempt at former Bakker glory. 

The resemblance between Tammy Faye and Lori isn’t striking, but it’s there all the same: like Tammy Faye, Lori is heavily made-up (though not nearly as heavily as Tammy Faye in the ‘80s), with big hair and a peppy spirit. 

Lori also isn’t much of a performer, arguably what Tammy Faye was known best for. There in hopes of filling that gap is Tammy Faye and Jim’s daughter Tammy Sue Bakker, who has been a leading member of PTL since her parents’ divorce in 1992. She sings on the show and works as an announcer and co-host, and she’s fine, but she doesn’t have much of a spark. She certainly doesn’t have the Tammy Faye spark. 

The show is bumbling and empty of substance; hosts talk over each other and repeat the same phrases about faith and justice, particularly where it comes to the end times and how shunted conservatives are in today’s woke world. It’s very clearly only a show for a certain brand of conservative evangelical Christians that enjoys talk of the apocalypse and attacks on American Christianity; it’s just a shame the show is so boring, too. 

Even the end time prophetic preaching loses its appeal after a few minutes, particularly when there’s not much news about the apocalypse forthcoming. 

Mike Lindell, the MyPillow CEO who became known for close association with President Donald Trump and his insistence the election was stolen despite no evidence backing up that claim, was a recent guest on “The Jim Bakker Show” for a three-part telethon. What did he have to say? Exactly the same script he’s been rehashing since the 2020 election, with additional bemoans of being “attacked” and “canceled” on the internet.

The rest of the program was essentially a cable TV shopping program for MyPillow products — fitting, as PTL has recently launched its own shopping program. The whole affair reeks of hopeless grabs at relevance. 

A few audience members shown are incredibly enthusiastic, clapping and singing along, dancing in their seats. The rest of them just look tired. Frankly, so do Jim and Lori and every other host or guest on stage. (No wonder, especially if they’re on hour six of filming.)

Jim is 81 and suffered a stroke last May. He’s long past his prime to be a charismatic leader, more suited for the role of a soft-spoken church elder or Bible study leader. Most of his co-hosts and audience members look like they’re long past the need for charisma, too. 

It’s no doubt harmful for Bakker to be selling fake COVID cures, claiming last year’s election was stolen and peddling end-of-the-world wares to mostly unsuspecting viewers. But mostly, watching his show is just sad. 

No one is encouraging Bakker to return to the man he used to be — but they might encourage him, kindly, to take a break from television. It’d be better for everyone. 

This article originally appeared at Religion Unplugged.

Jillian Cheney is a contributing culture writer for Religion Unplugged who loves consuming good culture and writing about it. She also writes on American Protestantism and evangelical Christianity. You can find her on Twitter @_jilliancheney.

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30 thoughts on “Opinion: After Falling From Grace, Televangelist Jim Bakker Is Still On The Air”

  1. I think it’s rather pathetic that Jim still needs to be in the public eye; dangerous too, when he peddles “Silver Solution” and also pathetic that people actually have bought it. I’ve never been a fan or a viewer, but my comment goes to the writer. This is an op-ed, a snarky one, not a journalistic piece, and should be labeled as such on The Roys Report. (And not to be the spelling police, but it’s minuscule not miniscule.)

  2. Interesting to hear about what Jim Bakker is up to now, but I thought the quality of the writing in this article was sub par.

    1. Gordon H,

      “but I thought the quality of the writing in this article was sub par.”

      :) Thank you for that, I needed a good laugh tonight, it has been a very hard day.

      It should have been headed as an opinion piece, and of course she had to bring politics into it which is the only reason I think the article was written.

  3. The guy is a total clown that gives true christianity a very very very very bad name !

    The guy couldn’t flip a hamburger for a living if his life depended on it !

    He’s a user , a CON through and through , and worse than an unbeliever rendering the name of God and Christ absolutely worthless !

    Total SHAM and a total wannabe and a worn out WOLF that is so worn out that he is now forgetting to put his sheep’s clothing on before going on stage to steal money from the few remaining stupid believers that need their eyes opened

  4. I think the article about Jim Bakker is demeaning and mean-spirited…First, I don’t have any of the stations mentioned but I see his program on WJYS, Daystar and the Impact stations…I don’t watch it often but he has guest speakers on that I find credible…Mike Lindell and many others have proof of voter fraud, whether you want to believe it or not. I no longer buy from stores that dropped his products which I find to be high quality. He’s a true patriot! I believe Jim Bakker to be also. He’s not giving up the fight and he continues to honor God!..none of us can give up, no matter what! We all fall short in various ways…show me anyone who has not made bad decisions…anyone??…but God loves a pure heart…we Believers strive to have a pure heart. It’s about sharing the love of God and not about taking shots at those who are trying to fulfill their God-given assignment here on Earth. Things are moving fast and we have to be aware of what has truly taken hold of our republic…only some have their eyes wide open!

    1. The spiritual delusion of the political gospel presenting a “different Jesus” driven by a “different spirit” completely ignores the great commandment great commission and Gods great purpose for the Church in John 17 to be One “so the world will believe.”
      The political gospel descended into a cult of personality descending into a death cult natural and spiritual.

  5. The Morningside community reminds me of a mini version of the Bakker’s Heritage USA. Some things just don’t change.

  6. Not a fan, but just to be clear, the colloidal silver Jim was selling is available at Walmart and probably works better than the non-treatment people got at hospitals.

    1. Just to be clear, colloidal silver is completely useless in treating Covid-19 or any other disease. It doesn’t work at all. No scientific study has ever found an effective therapeutic use for it, ever, for anything. People who sell it and claim otherwise are lying to you.

      Millions of Americans have been effectively treated for Covid-19 in hospital over the last 18 months, with millions more protected from being hospitalized by the Covid-19 vaccines. Colloidal silver hasn’t saved anyone, and has likely led to the deaths of thousands who put their faith in this useless treatment and delayed seeking the help they needed from their local hospital or doctor.

        1. Tony Nazarowski

          Kenly – Take a look at the medical disclaimer at the site you’ve referenced. The content on the site is for informational purposes only and readers should consult their physician for advice. Why do you suppose that is.

          A great Netflix documentary about flat earth supporters, “Behind The Curve”, shows a similar approach to scientific research. Instead of taking a blind view and following the data to arrive at a conclusion, the flat earth supporters start with a conclusion and then search for supporting points while ignoring contrarian evidence.
          Thankfully our country has compensating controls to shut down the likes of Jim Baker.

          1. Tony, why the need for the disclaimer that most docs put on their websites?

            Probably because too many people are irresponsible when it comes to their own health issues, and are always looking for a scapegoat to blame – whether it’s a boogey man virus or medical practitioner.

            Thankfully, it appears there is an ever growing number of people waking up and taking their health into their own hands after many years of worshipping (idolatry) a medical system that has been full of corruption, fraud, and greed. Not surprisingly, the collapse of this system is currently underway with many good people getting out. Transformation is coming, Lord willing.

          2. Andrew. That NIH article is about topical silver — ointments containing silver — that are used to assist in the healing of wounds and post-operative incisions. That is completely different from ingested colloidal silver.

            There is some scientific evidence for topical silver’s use in the applications mentioned in that paper, though it didn’t work in all the applications they tested. That’s a far cry from colloidal silver, which as I mentioned before, has no known benefits in any medical application, not even bacterial infections, and it certainly doesn’t cure Covid-19.

        2. “Mike, no studies ever about colloidal silver prove it’s benefit for anything? Really?”
          Yes, really.

          The best you can say about colloidal silver is that as long as you don’t ingest too much of it, you won’t come to any harm. It has no therapeutic uses at all, regardless of how many random people claim it does. Personal testimonies are no substitute for scientific double-blind studies and whenever colloidal silver has been put to the test, it has failed.

          That link you gave me is to a website that immediately spammed ads and popups trying to sell me all kinds of nonsense. Thanks for that…

          I skimmed the article, but I failed to find any links to medical studies showing proof that colloidal silver works for anything.

          I also find it ironic that one of the claims in the article is that colloidal silver binds to your DNA (which is pure nonsense, by the way) and is touted as a health benefit. I thought ingesting substances that bind to your genetic material destroyed your humanity — at least that’s what the antivaxxers have been claiming for the last 12 months.

          The bottom line is that the human body has no need and no use for ingested or injected silver. If you keep taking it, it simply builds up in your organs and skin until — if you take too much of it — you may take on a grey-blue pallor that is impossible to get rid of.

          1. Sorry, Mike, that link to Dr. Axe’s article on colloidal silver contains around ten links to studies. I only needed to provide one to prove your statement blatantly false.

            In addition to the studies, he provides this link of testimonials from doctors and hospitals that have used colloidal silver:

            http://www.csilverhl.com/12701.html

            If you want to separate propaganda and agenda-setting from truth you’ve gotta put the effort in to dig deep. 🙂

          2. Come on, Kenly. Most of those quotes are completely unsourced and ripped from their context. Even the ones that aren’t are either from texts many decades old, or hint darkly about conspiracy theories claim the suppression of colloidal silver as an instant cure for cancer.

            Sorry, but if that’s all there is, then we’re done here. If colloidal silver did everything people claim it can do, there would be no need for any other medicine in the world! Yet, somehow, nobody can prove it does anything of value in the medical sense.

            I think we’re done here.

          3. Most people who distance themselves by using the phrase “conspiracy theory” (a coping mechanism) fail to realize conspiracy almost always is part of the agenda of those in power, especially in regards to health.

            “”My investigation to date should convince this committee that a conspiracy does exist to stop the free flow and use of drugs in interstate commerce which allegedly has solid therapeutic value. Public and private funds have been thrown around like confetti at a country fair to close up and destroy clinics, hospitals, and scientific research laboratories which do not conform to the viewpoint of medical associations.”

            Benedict F. Fitzgerald, Jr., Special Counsel, US Senate Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, 1953 [1]

            1. Hon. William Langer, Congressional Record, August 3, 1953, p. A 5352.”

            http://www.newmediaexplorer.org/chris/2007/04/03/1953_fitzgerald_report_suppressed_cancer_treatments.htm

          4. Mike W,

            “Andrew. That NIH article is about topical silver… . That is completely different from ingested colloidal silver.”

            I did not claim the article was about colloidal silver, which I thought was made clear by using only the word “silver” when referencing the article.

  7. It’s not just Bakker. Many of the disgraced prosperity preachers and scam artists from that era are still going in one form or another — those who are still alive, at least. The money and the power (even as diminished as it is) is like a drug — virtually impossible to give up.

    You can still find the likes of Robert Tilton, Peter Popoff, and Kent Hovind still plying their wares and up to the same old tricks from their pocket-sized fiefdoms, and I suspect they will all continue to do so until they can’t drag themselves in front of a video camera anymore.

    Hovind just bought himself another 30 days in jail, for domestic abuse of his third wife this time, and he’s already moved on to number four.

    1. Tony Nazarowski

      Mike – The “drug” you’re referring to is just as dangerous to the followers of the property preachers. Why the followers choose to accept their teachings as credible is a mystery.

  8. No fan of Jim Bakker but was disappointed the Roy’s report carried such a biased and poorly written piece. I hope you refrain from promoting these type of opinion pieces In the future.

  9. Jim BakKer is still offering his off-base views of scripture to make a buck! The more things change, the more they stay the same!

  10. I agree with previous comments this article is a political opinion piece. Of all the sources the author could have used to document his rise and fall, she uses Buzzfeed, the blatantly biased “news” organization that wholeheartedly pushed Russian collusion, urinating prostitutes with Trump, etc. And she slams Mike Lindell, a man who has used his success to support Christian efforts such as the movie Unplanned. Do a better job next time.

  11. Lindell’s voter fraud proof reminds me of Linus waiting for the great pumpkin to appear. Sure, he’s probably sincere in what he wants to believe. Just keep believing. Next time he’ll come through for sure!

    Something like a taped recording of Biden pressuring an election official to fudge the results in his favor would be compelling evidence, though.

  12. Why does so much of toxic evangelical culture seem to be centered around Missouri? Honest question. I never noticed this until the past few years, where it seems like half the negative stuff that makes it into my feeds starts with, “In ____, MO…”

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