May 22m 2020
Morningside USA was supposed to be apocalypse-proof.
A gated, stucco fortress in the southwest corner of Missouri’s Ozark mountains, Morningside is an evangelical Christian community built to rent condos right through the end of the world.
Morningside is the name of Bakker’s Christian broadcasting empire, as well as the Missouri residential community from which he broadcasts. But it’s mostly made news in recent weeks because of its founder’s legal woes: various government agencies have accused Bakker of promoting a fake COVID-19 miracle cure.
So what does the coronavirus pandemic look like in this temple of survival? According to interviews with people who have recently lived, worked, and spent time there, pretty much the same waking nightmare as everywhere else: mixed efforts at social distancing, layoffs, and reported shortages of everyday supplies as COVID-19 ravages the country.
A former Morningside employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she hoped to return to her job as the pandemic eased said she was among a wave of layoffs as the community entered lockdown in late March.
“They were running out of supplies they had stocked up on when I was leaving there,” said the former employee, who argued Bakker was being vilified in the media.
Neither Morningside nor a Bakker representative returned requests for comment for this story.
The story of Morningside’s development involves two failed historical theme parks and two dozen criminal charges. Bakker, now 80, was a star of the 1980s televangelist scene and even expanded into a biblical theme park until feds convicted him of an elaborate scheme to illegally skim millions off the amusement park. A former church secretary also accused him of sexually assaulting her and buying her silence, although he claimed to have only had consensual extramarital sex with her, and was never charged.
Twenty-four convictions on fraud and conspiracy charges in the amusement park scandal and four years in prison later, Bakker was released from lockup in 1994. By 2003, he’d returned to broadcast ministry, this time with an eye on the end-times. He preached the apocalypse and used a loophole in non-profit law to hawk survivalist gear like supposed health supplements and giant buckets of shelf-stable food.
“Imagine,” one of Bakker’s emergency food ads said, “the world is dying and you’re having a breakfast for kings.” (Because his ministry is technically a nonprofit, Bakker does not “sell” his goods; he offers them as “love gifts” to people who make specific donations, like $4,500 for a “Peace of Mind Final Countdown” bundle that contained 31,000 servings of food in a variety of buckets.)
In 2008, he opened Morningside, a church complex/Christian broadcast studio/evangelical utopia on the former site of a follower’s Renaissance faire-themed amusement park. It was the ultimate survivalist sales pitch: Bakker claimed it could withstand an imminent apocalypse, and offered a variety of dwellings onsite. Higher-end homes included condos overlooking a shopping mall-like central meeting area, which also featured a chapel, a General Store, a cafe, and a 15-foot statue of Jesus.
May 8, 2020
The disgraced holy roller is battling the state of Missouri and a new class-action lawsuit seeking to ban him from peddling a bogus cure for coronavirus and HIV.
Televangelist Jim Bakker is fighting the state of Missouri—and now a class-action lawsuit—for the right to continue peddling a phony COVID-19 “cure.”
The Missouri Attorney General sued the 80-year-old Bakker to stop him and his company from promoting and selling Silver Solution, a product his TV show falsely claimed could cure coronavirus, HIV, SARS, and other illnesses.
On Monday, Bakker filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds of First Amendment and religious freedom. That filing included a declaration from one of Bakker’s employees, who said the TV pastor feels “divinely inspired” to bring the silver mixture to the masses.
But Bakker is also battling a class-action lawsuit over his sale of the concoction, The Daily Beast has learned. The complaint, filed in late March by Missouri resident Ronnie Karin, accuses Bakker and his Morningside Church Productions of common law fraud, unjust enrichment and of violating consumer protection laws.
Karin said he purchased Silver Solution from December 2019 through March 2020 after Bakker’s TV show claimed the product could treat not only COVID-19, but also SARS, H1N1, and cold and flu symptoms.
“It makes it all the more egregious,” Tim Dollar, a lawyer for Karin, told The Daily Beast. “You have a situation where a product is already on the market and you seem to pivot its use to whatever the fear is, regardless of the scientific evidence.”
Karin relied on the bottle’s “all natural” and “clinically tested” labels. But, according to his lawsuit, “Silver Solution cannot treat or cure any disease, has not been clinically tested for its capacity to do so, and is not ‘all natural.’”
The Silver Solution bottle indicates it’s made of purified silver (50 mcg per 1 teaspoon serving) and deionized water, which Karin’s lawsuit claims is not “all natural” because it is “artificially created through a process of distillation or reverse osmosis.”
In answer to the lawsuit, Bakker’s legal team denied Karin’s accusations and said his claims are barred in part by the First Amendment. Reached by The Daily Beast, the lawyers declined to comment on Karin’s complaint.
April 15, 2020
Oh, the irony!
A pastor who vowed to continue preaching through the coronavirus pandemic, or until he was “in jail or the hospital”, has now died of the coronavirus.
Bishop Gerald Glenn, the pastor of New Deliverance Evangelistic Church in Virginia, died on Saturday night.
He becomes the latest Virginian evangelical preacher to fall victim to the coronavirus following the death of Landon Spradlin, who allegedly caught the virus at Mardi Gras after decrying media “hysteria” about the dangers of the disease.
During a sermon on March 22, Bishop Glenn told a church audience in Virginia that he was not afraid of the coronavirus.
“I firmly believe that God is larger than this dreaded virus,” the pastor told his congregation.
March 14, 2020
One prominent televangelist would like people to believe that coronavirus can be cured through your TV set, so long as that television is tuned into his show.
Texas-based Evangelical preacher Kenneth Copeland — his right hand dripping with ointment — urged believers to put their hands on their screens and be cured of the coronavirus, for which there is no known remedy.
Video of the 83-year-old preacher’s program was tweeted Thursday by the group Right Wing Watch. It showed him conducting the alleged healing ritual.
March 14, 2020
A popular televangelist was recently issued a cease and desist order by the New York attorney general to stop promoting his cure-all product as a cure for the highly-contagious Covid-19 coronavirus strain.
The last thing you would expect a holy man to do is promote a fake cure against a potentially deadly disease to desperate people for profit, and yet, that’s allegedly exactly what Rev. Jim Bakker has been doing. To be fair, Bakker had long been peddling his “Silver Solution” – a scientifically unproven medication made from the precious metal – as a cure for all sorts of ailments, but when he included the rapidly-spreading Covid-19 coronavirus strain to the list of curable diseases, authorities stepped in.
The “last straw” as it were, was Bakker’s February 12 TV show, where he asked one of his guests, a naturopathic doctor, if his Silver Solution, which is sold via his website, could do what doctors and scientists around the world have been struggling to do for over three months now – cure Covid-19.
“It hasn’t been tested on this strain of the coronavirus, but it’s been tested on other strains of the coronavirus, and has been able to eliminate it within 12 hours. Totally eliminates it, kills it, deactivates it and then it boosts your immune system,” naturopath Sherrill Sellman answered, while Bakker interjected, “yeah, yeah”.
July 10, 2019
Pope Francis has declared that a late US television preacher once performed a miracle, moving him one step closer to sainthood.
Another lame attempt to try to keep the illusion going.
The Vatican announced on Saturday the formal approval of the miracle, thought to relate to claims about a baby’s extraordinary recovery in an Illinois hospital.
The Diocese of Peoria believes that Archbishop Fulton J Sheen – who died in 1979 – interceded in 2010 on behalf of a baby who began breathing 61 minutes after showing no signs of life at birth.
One miracle allows a candidate for sainthood to be beatified in the Catholic faith, but a second miracle must be approved in order for sainthood to be conferred.
No date has been given for his beatification ceremony, but the Peoria Diocese said it was beginning preparations for the celebration in the central Illinois city.
Archbishop Sheen’s on-air evangelism made him a well-known figure in the US over several decades, having started on NBC radio in 1930 with a weekly programme called The Catholic Hour.
He expanded to television in 1950 with NBC’s Life is Worth Living, regularly amassing more than 30 million viewers.
The pope’s decision comes just weeks after a New York court ruling allowing the American archbishop’s niece to bury him in Peoria, where he was ordained, ending years of litigation and allowing the process for sainthood to resume.
July 2, 2019
Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress suggested that Democratic 2020 candidates aren’t talking about the “real God” when they talk about their faith.
Jeffress, a longtime supporter of President Donald Trump, warned evangelicals at a conference in Washington, D.C., this weekend not to be “fooled” when Democratic 2020 presidential candidates talk about their faith.
“When they talk about God, they are not talking about the real God — the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God who revealed Himself in the Bible,” Jeffress said Saturday, according to The Christian Post. “These liberal Democrats are talking about an imaginary God they have created in their own minds: a god who loves abortion and hates Israel.”
As opposed to Jeffress’ invisible sky daddy.
Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Dallas and an evangelical adviser to the president, was delivering a speech on the final day of the Faith & Freedom Coalition policy conference, an event that highlights evangelical voters’ top issues. The Faith & Freedom Coalition plans to spend at least $50 million on get-out-the-vote efforts ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
During his speech, Jeffress offered an analysis of Democrats’ attempts to reach faith-based voters. Democrats have realized that they have a “God problem,” Jeffress said, and are trying to solve it by talking more openly about God and their personal faith.
Some of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have talked about how their religious beliefs inform their political views. During a progressive faith conference last month, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) spoke about how the biblical parable of the Good Samaritan who went out of his way to help a stranger in need has shaped her views on public policy.
July 12. 2018
It’s not just Christian televangelists who are con men
Ankara (AFP) – Turkish police on Wednesday detained on fraud charges a televangelist notorious for propagating conservative views while surrounded by scantily-clad women he refers to as his “kittens”.
Adnan Oktar, a bizarre and controversial figure who also denies evolution, was detained alongside dozens of mainly female alleged supporters on accusations of fraud, bribery and sexual assault.
Oktar, who critics see as the leader of a cult, gained notoriety for his programmes on the online A9 television channel and had regularly been denounced by Turkey’s religious leaders.
He presented programmes surrounded by scantily-clad and heavily made-up women — who appeared to have had plastic surgery — who he dubbed “kittens”.
In a major crackdown on his group, he was taken into custody in Istanbul as part of a probe by the city’s police financial crimes unit, state-run Anadolu news agency said.
A total of 235 arrest warrants were issued and at least 166 people have been detained so far in helicopter-backed raids in Istanbul, Ankara and also southern Turkey, Anadolu said. NTV television said 100 of those detained are female.
Oktar was caught as he was trying to run away, the Istanbul public prosecutor said in a statement, quoted by the Hurriyet daily. His lawyers were also detained.
He is also accused of “setting up an organisation with the aim of committing crime”, “committing fraud through abuse of religious belief and sentiment”, Anadolu said.
Oktar’s assets were seized, Anadolu said, adding that authorities appointed a trustee to his companies, associations and foundations.
Weapons including guns and rifles were also found during the raids, the agency said.
The head of Turkey’s Diyanet religious affairs agency Ali Erbas said earlier this year that Oktar had “likely lost his mental balance”, prompting a war of words with the televangelist.
May 31, 2018
The prosperity gospel, but no prosperity for the flock Jesse Duplantis is fleecing.
A prosperity gospel televangelist from Louisiana says Jesus has asked him to buy a new private jet. And wouldn’t you know it, Jesus has real nice taste in planes.
Jesse Duplantis, leader of Jesse Duplantis Ministries and the owner of three other private jets, is asking his followers to chip in so his ministry can purchase a brand new Dassault Falcon 7X, which runs about $54 million.
In a video recently published on his website, Duplantis says the planes get him closer to the Lord — both literally and figuratively — and he had a divine conversation in which Jesus asked for the new aircraft by name.
“It was one of the greatest statements the Lord ever told me, he said, ‘Jesse do you want to come up where I’m at?'” the minister says. “‘I want you to bleed me for a Falcon 7X.'”
By “bleed,” Duplantis — er, Jesus — apparently meant “ask for donations.”
Duplantis goes on to tell his followers that jets, especially nice ones with good fuel efficiency, allow him and his ministries to reach more people around the world. And no, it wouldn’t technically be his, it would be the ministry’s.
“All it’s gonna do is it’s going to touch people, it’s going to reach people, it’s going to change lives one soul at a time,” Duplantis said of the aircraft.
“I really believe that if Jesus was physically on the earth today, he wouldn’t be riding a donkey,” he added with a chuckle.
In the video, Duplantis also shows his followers a photo of him standing beside his other three jets: a Cessna Citation 500, an IAI Westwind II, and a Dassault Falcon 50. Under the portrait is a quote, which he proudly reiterates: “It’s not about possessions, it’s about priorities.”
May 7, 2018
Jim Bakker has hit an ethical rock bottom. We didn’t think he could go any lower than his potato soup scam, but behold! he has has sunk to new depths.
Televangelist Jim Bakker suggests that if you want to survive the end of days, the best thing you could do is buy one of his cabins in Missouri’s Ozark Mountains. And while you’re at it, be sure to pick up six 28-ounce “Extreme Survival Warfare” water bottles for $150.
Bakker, 78, made comments promoting his Morningside church community alongside his co-host and wife, Lori, on an episode of “The Jim Bakker Show,” which aired Tuesday. The show is filmed there, near Branson.
Bakker was known for hosting the evangelical Christian TV program “The PTL Club” in the ’70s and ’80s — up until 1987, when his empire came crashing down amid a sex scandal and charges of fraud.
Jessica Hahn told The Charlotte Observer last December that Bakker had manipulated her into having sex in a hotel room in 1980, back when she was a church secretary. At the time, Bakker was married to Tammy Faye.
Kirbyjon Caldwell – Houston megachurch pastor and spiritual adviser to George W. Bush indicted on13 counts conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering
March 30, 2018
Look here, ol’ people. I stoled yo’ money. It’s mah job.
A prominent Houston pastor and spiritual adviser to President George W. Bush has been indicted on federal charges that he sold millions of dollars in worthless Chinese bonds to elderly and vulnerable investors, according to federal authorities.
Kirbyjon H. Caldwell, 64, and Shreveport financial planner Gregory Alan Smith, 55, were charged with 13 counts of conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering.
Caldwell is accused of using his position as the senior pastor of the Windsor Village United Methodist Church to help lure nearly $3.5 million in investments into historic Chinese bonds that are not recognized by the Chinese government. He and Smith told investors they could see returns as high as 15 times their initial investment, according to the indictment.
February 22, 2018