Scrolling through television channels today I came across the Jim Bakker show. Normally I would have kept scrolling the channels because I am admittedly repulsed by most televangelists but out of curiosity I watched his show. My suspicions were proven correct. There was no revelation, nothing adverse to what I would have expected. Prison has not humbled this man and he remains as he has always been…a fleecer of the sheep.
The hour long show consisted of hawking for “love donations” through fear mongering the end of days. Bakker and his cohorts dished out God’s wrath scenarios in the approximate thirty minutes of time not devoted to selling his long list of survival products or for soliciting donations for his charitable building products. His charitable building projects are his long standing modus operandi for drawing in the dollars beginning back in the PTL years. The list of products he sells after stirring up anxiety and fear in gullible prophecy believers, prophecies he finds in the bible or that he claims God has spoken to him, are expensive enough to wipe out the moderate savings of the elderly or to force someone in a limited financial state to make a choice between donating to him or buying that which the really need. In the PTL days I observed my Aunt, living on a $300 per month government allotment, choose to send him donations for the Lord’s work rather than buy the medicine or food that she needed.
Just in case you are itching to buy some of his wares, here is a brief list:
Plush Lambs (stuffed toys)…$100
Ready to Eat Meals…$3000
Monthly Food club subscription…$100
Fire starter bucket…$500
Plus shipping and handling, of course.
Bakker does not stand alone. He has a plethora of competitors competing for salvation dollars. None of whom seem to have read the bible that they thump. Either that or they have chosen to blatantly overlook Matthew 7:21-23, which says:
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one whodoes the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
If these scriptures describe anyone, they seem specifically written to warn the gullible about televangelists, those who have proclaimed themselves anointed by God to spread the good news in order to prey upon the elderly and the naïve or susceptible. I could reference some more bible verses to this end, but I am not in the business of preaching the bible, for either personal cause or financial gain.
My grandmother used to say of those who maliciously and deliberately harmed others, “there is a hot coal in hell waiting just for him.” In my mind’s eye I see many hot coals engraved with the names: Jim Bakker, Ted Haggard, Benny Hinn, Peter Popoff, Robert Tilton, Jimmy Swaggart, and too many more to waste time naming.
In contrast, Bernie Madoff is a hated and reviled man in our society, yet he did nothing more heinous than what these modern day snake oil salesmen do on a daily basis. Madoff unfortunately did not claim to be a warrior for God; if he had, like the list above, he would return to society redeemed, forgiven and able to be back into business with hardly the blink of an eye.
As for the self-appointed anointed…..a swindler by any other name is still a swindler.