On Friday, televangelist Jim Bakker claimed his imprisonment for fraud decades ago was just another example of “cancel culture” gone haywire.
So much for self-reflection or humility…
“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.”
I guess he’s not repentant…
In case you’re wondering what he’s talking about, Bakker was famously indicted in the 1980s on multiple counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy. Among other things, he asked donors to buy “exclusive partnerships” to a hotel he was building… only to sell far more partnerships than he could legally offer. (You should check out this podcast detailing his crimes.) While initially sentenced to 45 years, Bakker ultimately spent only five years in jail for his crimes.
And yes, in 1988, the Charlotte Observer later received a Pulitzer Prize for public service:
Among the pieces were several by Charles E. Shepard that detailed how Mr. Bakker had had an affair with Jessica Hahn in 1980 and then paid $265,000 to cover it up. Other articles reported that Mr. Bakker, his wife, Tammy, and their top aides had secretly received millions in bonuses and lived lives of incredible excess. For instance, a 29-year-old personal assistant to Mr. Bakker received $610,000 in 15 months, exchanged $40,000 Jaguars with his brother as a Christmas present and wore a mink coat. The articles prompted Jim Bakker to resign from the ministry he had built…
There’s really no reason for Bakker to lie about all this, especially when you consider the popularity of redemption stories in Christian circles. Had he framed this as mistakes he made when he was “lost,” but later “found” by Jesus, he could easily get away with it, at least in the eyes of people who still watch Bakker non-ironically. He would hardly be the first white Christian man (and those descriptors are important) to publicly screw up, repent, and turn the experience into a lesson about grace.
But no. Instead, by continually framing himself as the victim of his own actions, he shows us why he still hasn’t earned much respect.
(via Right Wing Watch. Portions of this article were published earlier)