Remembering Tammy and Jim

A business call was made to North Carolina and I found myself speaking to a secretary named Tammy Baker. I told her that she had a most distinguished name. She chuckled and said that friends often made jokes about make-up and other things conspicuous in the one-time singing evangelist and co-host of the PTL Television Network.

Tammy's husband Jim had been charged with numerous counts of wire fraud over a time-share building project. The project collapsed after the disclosure of a sex scandal involving Jim and a purported church secretary who had been most evidently set up to allure the preacher in a hotel. It was disclosed that for years she had been receiving hush money while the ministry continued with the Gospel and a particular program emphasis on supporting and healing marriages.

All that time, while living in Chatham, Hilary and I were regular viewers of the Bakker broadcast. I told this secretary on the phone that there were many nights when I would come home from work, worn out, yet by watching PTL and receiving Tammy's indomitable encouragement and music, would be lifted up. I have a warm place in my heart for her, and for Jim and Uncle Henry; also for BeeBee and CeeCee Wynans ("Lord, Lift Us Up Where We Belong").

This other Tammy affirmed that there were indeed many in her area who chose to remember all the good things about this remarkable woman who ultimately faced with courage her death by cancer. Of course for every one well-wisher there were three detractors who accepted whole-heartedly the media and political smear of the couple - extravagant life-style, tears and crying everywhere, condo investors left in the lurch, "victimized" hotel partner turned pin-up girl. What a mess!

Jim Bakker wrote a book on the ordeal and prison stay entitled "I Was Wrong". He wrote of the circumstances surrounding the tryst, the increasingly distorted prosperity/victory message in their ministry, the cover-up while he tried desperately to make amends, the tidal wave of the published scandal, the trial and media circus, the few men behind bars who gave him hope for recovery. Most definitely God accepted that statement and apology. Did we? Or was it socially unacceptable? The churches seemed to run for the bushes in embarrassment.

Sometimes our "all is well" posture runs directly counter to the honesty, understanding and compassion of Jesus.

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