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The Twisted History of Evangelists

Here are the notes from today's episode: 

Jimmy Swaggart 

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) _ A prostitute claims television evangelist Jimmy Swaggart engaged in sexual intercourse with her once and asked that her 9-year-old daughter watch sex acts, according Penthouse magazine. 

The article in the July issue is the first report on Swaggart’s alleged sexual encounters to say that he engaged in sexual intercourse. In previous interviews, the prostitute, Debra Murphree, has said Swaggart paid her to perform lewd acts while he watched. The Penthouse interview is accompanied by explicit photos in which Murphree demonstrates the acts she said Swaggart asked her to perform. 

She said she had at least 20 encounters with him during a one-year period. The issue containing the article is scheduled to go on sale in June, but some copies were sold in advance. The reported meetings with Murphree led to Swaggart’s removal from the pulpit by the Assemblies of God church. Swaggart stopped preaching for three months but returned to the pulpit Sunday without his denomination credentials. 

Swaggart has never admitted a sexual encounter, but said from the pulpit that he had sinned and suffered a moral failure. William Treeby, an attorney for Jimmy Swaggart World Ministries, refused to comment on the Penthouse article. "We will have no comment about that ever," Treeby said.

Jim Bakker 

* Net worth approximately $1,000,000 

* Hosted the The PTL Club, an evangelical Christian television program from 1974 to 1989. 

* Developed Heritage USA, a now-defunct Christian theme park in Fort Mill, South Carolina. 

* Tammy Faye Messner - 1961-1992 * Lori Bakker - 1998 

(Lori Bakker, born Lori Beth Graham, was raised in a middle class church attending family in Phoenix, Arizona. A life of partying and drugs that had begun during her early teen years had culminated into five abortions by the age of 22. Lori then turned to God.) 

* Known for his unscripted shows. 

* Improvisation performer and described his method as “an ongoing response to the Spirit of God in each moment.” 

* Paid former church secretary, Jessica Hahn (yes, that Jessica Hahn) to keep quiet about a sexual encounter (Rape, actually. Let’s call it what it is when you drug someone and have sex with them without their consent) they had in 1980. 

* He paid her with PTL Club funds. He was cooking two books to cover his tracks 

* When the sex scandal broke in 1987, questions were raised about Bakker's financial dealings. 

* 1989: sentenced to 45 years in prison for fleecing his flock of $158 million. Served just 5 years. 

* Tammy Faye divorced him in 1992. 

Check this out... 

* Bakker was succeeded as PTL head by Southern Baptist pastor Jerry Falwell. He chose Falwell as his successor because he feared that fellow Pentecostal pastor Jimmy Swaggart was attempting to take over his ministry. Swaggart had initiated a church investigation into Bakker over allegations of Bakker's sexual misconduct. 

* Bakker believed that Falwell would temporarily lead the ministry until the scandal died down, but Falwell barred Bakker from returning to PTL on April 28, 1987. (The old double cross!) 

* Falwell and the remaining members of the PTL board resigned in October 1987, stating that a ruling from a bankruptcy court judge made rebuilding the ministry impossible. 

* In response to the scandal, Falwell called Bakker a liar, an embezzler, a sexual deviant, and "the greatest scab and cancer on the face of Christianity in 2,000 years of church history.” 

* On CNN, Swaggart told Larry King that Bakker was a "cancer in the body of Christ”. (Takes one to know one.) 

* Bakker opened a new ministry. He began broadcasting the daily The Jim Bakker Show at Studio City Café in Branson, Missouri with his new wife, Lori. 

* 2015: Tried selling freeze-dried products for doomsday on his website: 50-day "Survival Food" sampler bucket containing 154 meals. Cost: $135.00 - Reviews called it “spoiled” and “rancid." 

* Bakker has become somewhat of a self proclaimed prophet. (a false prophet by others) 

* In an October 2017 video, Bakker said that "God will punish those" who ridicule him; he has said that Hurricane Harvey was a judgement of God, and blamed Hurricane Matthew on then-President Barack Obama. Bakker predicted that if current President Donald Trump is impeached, Christians would begin a Second American Civil War. 

He compared the 2017 Washington train derailment to the sinking of the RMS Titanic and stated the Amtrak train derailment was a warning from God. He also claimed that he predicted the September 11 attacks of 2001, stating that he "saw 9/11 in 1999 before New Year's Eve" and that there would "be terrorism" and bombings in New York City and Washington, D.C." 

A few days after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, he stated that in a dream that "God came to him wearing a camouflage, a hunting vest, and an AR-15 rifle strapped to his back" and claimed that God supported Trump's plan to arm teachers. 

* Following the death of Billy Graham on February 21, 2018, Bakker attended Graham’s funeral and paid his respects, stating that Graham was the greatest preacher since Jesus, and also remarking that Graham had visited him in prison. 

Birds of a feather... 

In February 1988, Swaggart became involved in a sex scandal of his own after being caught visiting prostitutes in New Orleans. The Bakker and Swaggart scandals had a profound effect on the world of televangelism, causing greater media scrutiny of televangelists and their finances. 

Falwell said that the scandals had "strengthened broadcast evangelism and made Christianity stronger, more mature and more committed.” (of course he did) 

Joe Carter of The Gospel Coalition compared the PTL scandal to the 2017 Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations.

Jessica Hahn 

* Net worth $1.5 Million 2020 

* Dated comedian Sam Kinison 

* 1988 Appeared in his music video for "Wild Thing" 

* 1991, she began a relationship with the co-creator of Married ...with Children, Ron Leavitt

* 2017, married to Frank Lloyd (a film stuntman) no longer active.

Jessica Hahn - The Howard Stern Show Howard Stern story

Gary told a story once about watching Evel Knievel hit on Jessica Hahn at a signing event, so Jessica called up to explain that they actually hooked up afterward in Evel's hotel room. Jessica added that Evel was quite small, took a while to finish, and thought they ended up having sex a few times (including a second rendezvous), his sexual prowess didn't compare to Sam Kinison. Howard revealed he had just lost a bet to Gary because he didn't think Jessica would sleep with Evel. 

Hahn first came to public attention following Jim Bakker's announcement on March 19, 1987, that he was stepping down as head of PTL Satellite Network and Heritage USA, pending the imminent disclosure of a sexual encounter between the two of them. 

According to Hahn, on the afternoon of December 6, 1980, when she was a 21-year-old church secretary, she was drugged and raped by Bakker and another preacher, John Wesley Fletcher, for "about 15 minutes". 

Hahn was given a $279,000 pay-off for her silence, which was paid with PTL's funds to Hahn through Bakker associate Roe Messner. (yes, he’s the same Messner who married Tammy Fay after she divorced Jim. Messner was later jailed for bankruptcy fraud while Tammy Faye went on to reinvent herself as a reality TV star and self-help author. She passed away at the age of 65 in 2007.) 

Bakker, who made all of the financial decisions for the PTL organization, allegedly kept two sets of books to conceal the accounting irregularities. Reporters from The Charlotte Observer, led by Charles Shepard, investigated and published a series of articles regarding the PTL organization's finances. 

This precipitated Bakker's resignation and the publication of Hahn's claims. In his 1997 book, “I Was Wrong”, Bakker disputed Hahn's account, claiming that he was "set up" and that the sex was consensual. 

The incident took a quick turn after the Charlotte Observer learned that a massive sum was paid to Hahn to keep her quiet after she was allegedly raped by Jim in a hotel room in 1980 when she was just 21-years-old. 

Jim would later admit to having sex with Hahn but contended that it was consensual.

Jerry Falwell Sr. 

* 1933 -2007 (73) died suddenly of a cardiac arrhythmia 

* Net worth when he died approximately $10 million 

* Founding pastor of megachurch: Thomas Road Baptist Church, 

* 1967 Founded Lynchburg Christian Academy (now Liberty Christian Academy) 

* 1979 Co-Founded Liberty University 

* Staunch pro-Israel stand, often referred to as “Christian Zionism” 

* Tried to sell the false idea that Bill Clinton was connected to a murder conspiracy and cocaine-smuggling operation. He made a ton of $$$ pushing the documentary and selling over 150,000 copies. 

* Condemned Homosexuality, saying: "Gay folks would just as soon kill you as look at you. AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals, it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals.” 

* Referred to Ellen as “Ellen DeGenerate” 

* 1999 Falwell hosted a meeting of 200 evangelicals with 200 homosexuals at Thomas Road Baptist Church for an "Anti-Violence Forum", during which he acknowledged that some American evangelicals' comments about homosexuality entered the realm of hate speech that could incite violence. At the forum, Falwell told homosexuals in attendance, "I don't agree with your lifestyle, I will never agree with your lifestyle, but I love you" and added, "Anything that leaves the impression that we hate the sinner, we want to change that." He later commented to New York Times columnist Frank Rich that "admittedly, evangelicals have not exhibited an ability to build a bond of friendship to the gay and lesbian community. We've said go somewhere else, we don't need you here at our churches.” 

After the September 11 attacks in 2001, Falwell said on Pat Robertson's The 700 Club, "I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say ''you helped this happen.” 

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