Bakker is interested in reviving former PTL site

Charlotte Observer/January 26, 2000
By Ken Garfield

Jim Bakker told a national TV audience Tuesday night that he wants to get back on television and that under the right circumstances he'd like to help reopen the PTL complex he once ran in Fort Mill, S.C.

Appearing for an hour on CNN's "Larry King Live," Bakker said he's working with retired NFL star Reggie White on a 24-hour religious TV network. Echoing comments he has made in sermons in churches around the country, Bakker said he'd like to start a network that wouldn't have to raise money.

"My dream is there can be a network to help people," the 60-year-old Bakker told King.

"I love the idea of telling millions of people that God loves them no matter what they've done.

"How do you do television without raising money? We're just dreaming right now. We're in the dream stage."

Though he's been careful in the past about not ruling out his involvement in PTL, Bakker went a step further Tuesday, saying he'd be interested in getting the now-closed retreat reopened in some form. "I wouldn't mind working with other people to see it restored," he said. Bakker, who appeared with his new wife, Lori Beth, said he's had a warm reception since relocating to Charlotte several months ago. "Charlotte," he said, "was the last city I wanted to go back to. It's where the pain was."

Bakker served five years in federal prison for defrauding followers of $158million.

Asked by a caller why the American public should trust him to return to TV, Bakker said God forgives everyone. And he's not asking for people to trust him, he repeated more than once.

"I want them to believe in God," he said.

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