TV's Unholy Row: The Scandal of Televangelism

A sex-and-money scandal tarnishes electronic evangelism

Bettmann / CORBIS

October 03, 1989: PTL founder Jim Bakker (left), his son, Jamie, (center) and wife, Tammy Faye Bakker, greet supporters as they leave federal court in Charlotte

Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

-- St. Paul in Ephesians 4: 1-3

Evangelical Protestantism, America's great folk faith, is usually as plain and decent as a clapboard chapel, but on occasion it can turn as raucous and disorderly as a frontier camp meeting. Over the past two weeks sweet order has fled, seemingly overwhelmed by hot words and rackety confusion. Perhaps not since famed Pentecostalist Preacher Aimee Semple...

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