Televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker build a multi-million dollar empire: Part 1 Video

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Transcript for Televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker build a multi-million dollar empire: Part 1

Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker were the most famous couple in America. He’s the president of a multiple dollar religious organization. Here’s a pledge that was called in for $1,000. The industry of religious broadcasting was in its hey day. These were people that decided they could use television to broadcast a church service the same way you would use television to broadcast the evening news. Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker were something different. Like Jim Bakker wasn’t as a podium talking to the congregation. He was behind a desk like a talk show host. Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker were the Ken and Barbie of television. They seemed honest. They brought encouragement and hope to lots of people. Many times when I’m home maybe down in the dumps I turn on the TV. I listen to Jim Bakker and it renews my strength. I have a feeling some of you folks would be more than happy to help me. When they began to build their network, they had to buy air time. Instead of us running a commercial and being paid for that commercial we went directly to our viewers and said if you like what you see, help us. The only way we can continue to come into your home every day is if you care enough to dial that 800 number and become a partner. All your favorite shows are asking you to give them money by buying products. It was no different. It’s going to take $1 million tonight. It’s a fascinating story about religion. It’s a fascinating story about American culture. It has a kind of timelessness to it. Let’s give the devil a black eye. Amen. I’m asking you to start giving and just see what happens in your life. I challenge you to make a pledge to god. From the very beginning part of Bakker’s message was the message of the abundant life, what’s often referred to as the prosperity gospel. ??? Heaven is a place on Earth ??? If you’re praying for a car or a home, go out and find the car that you want and speak the word of faith. Go out and claim the home that your faith allows you. According to Jim’s gospel god wanted you to be prosperous and live a great life and have nice things. God wants you to be rich. In fact, the more you give to the church, the richer you’ll become. Praise the lord. If we weren’t driving a rolls Royce, when you give to god, god multiplies back. In a sense by taking their money he was doing them a favor. We need you to call right now. It’s only when you listened to what they were saying, you realized from Jim Bakker’s perspective, he was the money extraction machine. Come on, folks. Whenever they asked for money for something it poured in. I saw god do something. They could make people cry. They could make people laugh. They could make people turn over their life savings. We had a cash office and at times there was certainly more money in there than I could imagine. People would sd us mink coats, diamond rings, deeds. I mean, we — we got all sorts of donations. Christ said he wanted us to have life and prosper, and to be in health, as our soul prospers, and to have life more abundantly. I really believe Jesus Christ taught a message of blessing, and that’s the message we have preached. Christ said it’s “Easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get to he am I misquoting? I would think, puts money first. And I can say this before god, that we have never put money first. ??? Oh baby do you know what that’s worth ??? ??? oh heaven is a place on Earth ??? They bought luxury cars, they bought expensive clothes, they traveled with an entourage. We’re here at our home in the desert, a place where we come occasionally. Once in a while. Not as often as we would like. They eventually had two houses, one in Palm Springs and the other one in palm desert nearby. And we’re kinda taking you into our secret hideaway today. And uh, it’s not really a secret. His assistant, David Taggart, rented a learjet to fly them to Santa Ana so that Jim Bakker could buy not one, but two rolls royces. They say the only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys. And then Bakker apparently felt a little guilty so he bought Tammy a brand new Mercedes Benz. It’s almost you go into the Elvis syndrome, you don’t know the word no. One of the things that came up is they had the air conditioned dog house, it actually existed. I was like, okay, now they really love dogs. Ted Koppel quizzed the bakkers about their super luxurious doghouse. The doghouse, you’ve got tell me about the doghouse. And I remember, from 30 years ago, I remember tammerced the camera, and saying — We’re sorry, snuggles. I absolutely believe that both Jim and Tammy were truly devout, faithful Christians. I think things just got out of hand. It was called ptl, which stood for praise the lord, but people who watched that show, would say ptl really stands for pass the loot, because they were constantly asking for money. Praise the lord! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the pass the loot club spreading the word to millions each year and receiving millions by return mail. They were representing to their viewers that Jim and Tammy were giving everything to support the ministry. That was a line they used a number of times. No one can ever say Jim and Tammy are in it for the money, we make no money from the television. It turned out that from 1984 to 1987, ptl had paid them about $4.7 million in total. How much money did you earn last year? No idea? You’re shrugging, Mr. Bakker. You don’t know? I — I do not have the exact figure. What do you pay a guy that can raise $30 million in a week? All the rules of fundraising have been totally broken. What do you pay a guy like that? They also said you were kind of like a shopping machine. I do like to shop. I probably am well-known for my shopping. Yeah. But I am a bargain hunter. I enjoy shopping. It’s kind of a hobby to help my nerves. Jim Bakker — Better than a psychiatrist. Well, it may not be cheaper, the way you’ve been going at it, but let me — Maybe not. There’s a saying that if the devil cannot stop you, sometimes he’ll get behind you and push you too far. Jim and Tammy had this belief that they could convince any audience to do or to feel what they wanted them to feel. And this would first be their great success, and then their Hun un huge undoing. Hello everybody welcome to heritage usa victory day! I grew up watching her on my grandma’s living room floor as my grandma gave money to the Bakker family. I remember my dad coming through the living room and going, “Mom, stop sending your money to those people. They’re crooks.” They were crooks. They really were. They deserved to be taken down.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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