PTL Considering Future Of Bakker’s Parents At Ministry
FORT MILL, S.C. (AP) _ The parents of PTL founder Jim Bakker may soon lose their $17,000-a-year jobs as official greeters at the ministry’s Heritage USA theme park and Christian retreat, PTL officials indicated Monday.
While Raleigh Bakker, 80, and his wife Furnia, 81, have not been fired yet, PTL Chairman Jerry Falwell said Sunday they should be, Falwell spokesman Mark DeMoss said.
Harry Hargrave, PTL’s chief financial officer, planned to meet with the elder Bakkers to discuss their future.
Raleigh Bakker said he expects to be fired this week because he already has received a written notice that the PTL telephone extension at his home in Heritage USA will be disconnected Wednesday.
The elder Bakkers are paid $17,000 each, and Falwell said that is more than the debt-ridden ministry can bear.
Falwell called it a ″a charitable gift for which they did very little work,″ DeMoss said.
″Now that we are in Chapter 11, we can not afford those kind of gifts,″ DeMoss said.
PTL has asked a federal bankruptcy court for permission to reorganize and work out a plan to pay $68 million owed to 1,400 creditors.
Falwell took over PTL after Bakker resigned in the wake of the disclosure of his sexual liaison with former church secretary Jessica Hahn.
Norm Bakker, Bakker’s brother, and his wife, Nancy, were fired two months ago. Donna Puckett, Bakker’s sister, was discharged in May.
Meanwhile, PTL officials revealed a recent accounting of the Bakkers’ expenses showed the ministry spent $60,000 to send Bakker’s wive, Tammy Faye Bakker, to a drug treatment center earlier this year.
Mrs. Bakker, who had a long-standing problem with over-medication of prescription drugs, was flown on a chartered jet to the Eisenhower Memorial Hospital in Rancho Mirage, Calif., about 12 miles from the Bakkers’ home in Palm Springs, said Don Hardister, the Bakkers’ former security guard.
In another development, Henry Harrison, whose duties as co-host on the ″PTL Club″ television show were reduced to being an announcer when Tammy Faye Bakker joined her husband as co-host, said in an interview that he was devastated when they announced their departure in March.
″It wouldn’t have hit me any harder if the announcement had been that he and Tammy had been killed in an accident or something,″ Harrison told The (Rock Hill, S.C.) Herald in an interview published Monday. ″It was such a shocker; I was just stunned.″
The latest shock came last week in a Time magazine article accusing Bakker of homosexual encounters with PTL employees.
″It appears from what I’ve seen and heard otherwise that there must be some truth to it,″ Harrison said. ″How much, I don’t know.″
Harrison said that although he loves the Bakkers, their behavior since leaving PTL has disappointed him.
″The Lord said, ’A broken spirit and a contrite heart I will not despise,‴ Harrison said. ″I’ve seen Jim once in the last several weeks. I haven’t really been able to see the broken spirit and the contrite heart that I would have hoped to.″