‘Only saved people can love Trump,’ says televangelist Jim Bakker

The Charlotte Observer/January 7, 2020

By Joe Marusak

Televangelist Jim Bakker, whose PTL empire collapsed amid sex and financial scandals in the late 80s, has startled critics with his declaration that supporting President Donald Trump “is a test whether you’re even saved.”

“Only saved people can love Trump,” Bakker told his TV audience in an episode of “The Jim Bakker Show” that aired Monday.

Some in the audience and on his guest panel laughed, prompting Bakker to respond: “No. You gotta really be saved. You gotta forgive. You forgive when you’re saved ...”

The comments came about 40 minutes into the episode. On the show, Bakker and his wife Lori are joined by guests promoting book sales and encouraging viewers to make monthly donations to the “PTL Voice of the Prophets Gold Member Network.”

One book Bakker promoted on the show is by Monday’s guest Robert Henderson titled “Praying for the Prophetic Destiny of the United States and the Presidency of Donald J. Trump from the Courts of Heaven.”

For several minutes, Bakker talked about 2020 politics and defended Trump saying, “He keeps signing things to protect the church, and he’s helped Israel, and recognized Israel. He’s fulfilling (the) Bible, whether you like it or not.”

He also weighed in on ongoing impeachment efforts saying, “the demons of hell were impeaching the president as I was taping this show recently.” As he spoke, a photo of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appeared on screen.

Less than 24 hours later, a video clip of Bakker saying “Only saved people can love Trump” had been viewed nearly 1.5 million times on Twitter. Liberal and anti-Trump sites, especially, pounced.

Reaction to Bakker’s remarks was sift.

“I would like to know how to be saved FROM trump right now,” one woman tweeted.

Another wrote, “Trump is definitely a morality test but not like Bakker thinks.”

One man called Bakker’s remarks “manipulative,” tweeting: “I know some think that Jim Bakker comment was bad because it was about Trump, but I want to tell you that it’s always bad, morally oppressive & manipulative to suggest anyone’s faith is vindicated based on their vote alone —regardless of who is the subject of the sentiment.”

PTL church near Charlotte

Bakker and then-wife Tammy Faye Bakker rose to fame on “The PTL Club” television show they hosted in the 1970s and ‘80s. They also built a Christian theme park, called Heritage USA, in Fort Mill, S.C., which attracted millions of people each year.

Their ministry fell apart in 1987, amid revelations of hush money being paid after Jim Bakker had a 15-minute tryst with young church secretary Jessica Hahn. PTL-related fraud later put Jim Bakker in federal prison for nearly five years. Tammy Faye died in 2007.

In February 2018, Jim and Lori Bakker visited Charlotte to pay their respects to Billy Graham, who both was a spiritual adviser to U.S. presidents and visited Bakker when he was in federal prison.

A tearful Bakker told reporters at the Billy Graham Library that Graham was the greatest preacher since Christ, Observer news partner WBTV reported at the time.

Graham’s boyhood home was, for a time in the 1980s, located on PTL’s Heritage USA property in Fort Mill. It was moved to the Billy Graham Library grounds in 2006.

Jim and Lori Bakker’s current TV show focuses on what the pastor says is the coming Apocalypse and on selling the emergency food and survivalist gear Bakker says will keep believers alive during the tribulation preceding the End Times.

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