Televangelist Jim Bakker, 82, a convicted felon and Tammy Faye Bakker’s ex-husband is claiming that Christian pastors are being murdered while ranting about Florida’s Don’t Say Gay law.
“They will kill us in our pulpits,” Bakker said on his evangelical talk and variety show. “You don’t believe me? They’re already doing it.
“They call it ‘don’t say gay’ – it’s not even true, it’s not even in the law,” Bakker said. That’s technically correct: the bill bans discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity before fourth grade and requires such discussions be “developmentally appropriate” in older grades.
The problem is that the vague bill doesn’t define what that means exactly, and the bill’s supporters have defended it by calling LGBTQ people who come out to children “groomers.”
Moreover, instead of leaving the definitions of its terms to a government agency, the law allows parents to sue school districts if they believe the law has been violated, which opponents of the law say will lead to teachers being punished for allowing the kids of same-sex couples to talk about their families in class.
Either way, Bakker didn’t really discuss the law in depth. Instead, he said that Christian pastors are being killed in their pulpits. To date, there are no such recorded incidents resulting from implementation of the bill.
Christian conservatives often claim that any advance in LGBTQ equality will result in pastors being arrested and Bibles getting banned. They have made this argument in the context of marriage equality, conversion therapy bans and hate crimes legislation.
It is unclear how this applies when it comes to the Don’t Say Gay law.
In 1989, Bakker was convicted of 24 counts relating to fraud stemming from his business practices with the PTL club. He was sentenced to 45 years in prison and served less than five.
During that time, Tammy Faye divorced Bakker, later remarrying to Roe Messner, one of PTL’s leading architects for the PTL production studio and evangelical vacation destination in Fort Mill, South Carolina, part of the Charlotte Metro region just across the state line.
As Tammy Faye Messner, her career rebounded, landing her in a secular gig with openly gay actor Jim J. Bullock and pairing them together as co-hosts on a comedic talk show called “Jim J. & Tammy Faye.”
Although the program was extremely successful, Bakker-Messner left the program after a single season when she was diagnosed with colon cancer. It was cancelled the following season.
In the years that followed, she would rebound from colon cancer, author two books, appear on reality television, become the subject of an autobiographical documentary produced by Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey (World of Wonder, producers of “RuPaul’s Drag Race”) called “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” and be much loved by the LGBTQ community for her open support and refusal to condemn gays and lesbians during a time when intolerance was (and has often remained) standard behavior for televangelists.
Regrettably, she passed away July 20, 2007, when the colon cancer returned.
Former husband Jim hasn’t been so supportive of the LGBTQ community. In 2016, he professed his belief that the United States was incurring God’s wrath because “we don’t know the difference between boys and girls” and are allowing “grown men” in girls’ restrooms, which was clearly a reference to Charlotte’s original attempt at passing an all-inclusive NDO and a pot shot at transgender people.
“I get fought on every hand if I mention anything,” Bakker muttered on “The Jim Bakker Show” recently. “And it’s gonna’ be preachers that [are] not going to be able to preach much longer, because they’ll shoot us in the pulpit. They will kill us in our pulpits.”
Bakker’s statement begs the question: who is it he seems to believe is on a murderous rampage to kill the ministers of America?
This story appears courtesy of our media partner LGBTQ Nation. Additional content was added by David Aaron Moore.