The trials and resilience of Tammy Faye Bakker

Tammy Faye Bakker, the most famous televangelist of America is well known for a Christian themed broadcast which has created that was after Johnny Carson, the secular late night king.

Modest starting of Tammy Faye Bakker

Tammy Faye Bakker had started in a very modest manner by featuring handmade puppets in a show that was meant for children.

Bakkers had built a television empire that was religious. It was built around PTL Club which was Tammy Faye Bakker’s daily talk show. The show was hosted by Jim Bakker, Tammy’s husband with her singing.

Views of Tammy’s admirers

This was along with the Christian theme park named Heritage USA. However, the entire empire collapsed amidst two scandals.

The trials and resilience of Tammy Faye Bakker
Tammy Faye Bakker and Jim Bakker hosted PTL

According to the admirers of Tammy Faye Bakker, she was a resilient woman. Tammy had battled the case of prescription drug addiction along with several bouts of cancer.

Tammy Faye Bakker’s husband cheated on her and as a result of it went to federal prison. Tammy’s second husband also went to prison.

According to the fans of Tammy Faye Bakker’s fans, she never lost her faith in God. Tammy even appeared on the national television to speak the same. This was before Tammy lost her battle with cancer.

Success of Tammy in mid 80s

From their ministers, by the mid of 80s, Tammy Faye Bakker along with her husband were pulling in millions.

Tammy and her husband had several houses along with expensive cars and high priced jewelry. The dog house that was owned by Tammy Faye Bakker was also air-conditioned.

However the success of Tammy Bakker and her husband along with the exorbitant spending by the couple had brought them criticism as well as scrutiny.

The trials and resilience of Tammy Faye Bakker
Jim and Tammy Bakker had an air-conditioned dog house. Source: CDN

Interviews of Tammy Bakker

The host of “Good Morning America”, Charlie Gibson had asked Tammy Bakker in 1987 in an interview that if Jesus has said or not that “it’s easier for a camel to pass via the eye of a needle when compared to a rich man getting to heaven?”

To this question of Charlie, Tammy Bakker had replied by saying that according to her that a rich man will put money first and that she can vouch this before God that the Bakkers have never put money first.

In an interview on “Nightline” with Ted Koppel in 1987, Tammy Bakker had admitted that she likes to shop and that she probably is well known for her shopping skills but she is also a bargain hunter.

Tammy had also stated in the interview that shopping is a therapy that helps her nerves and is always better than a psychiatrist as it is less expensive.

Breakdown of Tammy Bakker

According to John Wigger who is the author of  “PTL: The Rise and Fall of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s Evangelical Empire, Tammy Faye Bakker was suffering from a breakdown. Tammy at that point of time was at the height of her success.

Tammy Bakker and her husband had revealed about treatment of Tammy for a drug dependency in a videotaped message. This was after two months after Tammy had entered the Betty Ford Center.

In the videotaped message, Tammy had said that she felt as if she had seen hell.

It came from all sides for Tammy Bakker

However, this was not an end. The hometown newspaper of the Bakkers, the Charlotte Observer had published a report exposing a sexual encounter of Tammy Bakker’s husband Jim with Jessica Hahn. Jessica Hahn was a church secretary from Long island in New York.

Hahn had later claimed that Jim, husband of Tammy Bakker had assaulted her sexually in December 1980 when she was just 21 years old.

Amidst the scandals, Saturday Night Live took swings on Tammy by stating that she did over the top makeup with mascara running down Tammy’s face.

Jim was then alleged on charges of fraud as well as conspiracy and  later was found guilty. He was then sent to imprisonment for 45 years along with the imposition of a fine of $500,000.

After Jim was sentenced, Tammy Bakker sang a hymn for him at a news conference.

She spoke about her difficult time without her husband. Tammy did not wait for long and filed for divorce.

Media and people were aiming at Tammy but that did not make her slink away. Tammy needed to make money and then came the new talk show “Jim J. and Tammy Faye Show.”

Tammy’s health issues in the last few years

In the last eleven years of her life, Tammy Bakker had several health issues.

Tammy in 1996 announced about having cancer in colon. She went through various treatments but it was in remission. In 2004, Tammy Bakker had lung cancer.

Despite treatment, the cancer returned in 2005. On the 19th of July 2007, Tammy Bakker gave her final interview on “Larry King Live”. Tammy took her last breath hours after the broadcast of the show.

Source: ABC NewsWeekly Standards

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