The PTL Club
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|The PTL Club|
|Also known as||The Jim and Tammy Show
|Genre||Religious talk show|
|Created by||Jim Bakker|
|Starring||Jim Bakker & Tammy Faye Bakker (1974–1987)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||14|
|Location(s)||Charlotte, North Carolina
Fort Mill, South Carolina
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Original channel||PTL Satellite Network, The Inspirational Network|
|Original run||1974 – 1989|
|Related shows||The 700 Club, Praise The Lord|
The PTL Club (PTL stands for "Praise The Lord" or "People That Love"), later called The Jim and Tammy Show, and in its last days PTL Today and Heritage Today, was a Christian television program first hosted by evangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, which ran from 1974 to 1989. The PTL Club, which adopted a talk-show format, was the flagship television program of the Bakkers' PTL Satellite Network. It was one of the first Christian broadcasts in the U.S. to deal with the subject of homosexuality.
The program began as a local TV broadcast in a converted Charlotte, North Carolina furniture store, hosted by Jim Bakker and co-hosted by his wife, Tammy Faye Bakker. In February 1974, Bakker and his staff built what became known as the PTL Television Network (later named The Inspirational Network), a worldwide Christian satellite cable television network. In a Tonight Show-type format, the program featured many well-known ministers and Christian recording artists. In the beginning, "Uncle Henry" Harrison (who had worked with Bakker at CBN) was the co-host/sidekick (much like Ed McMahon to Johnny Carson), and when Tammy Faye took over as co-host, Harrison became just the announcer. The program was later broadcast from Bakker's Heritage Village ministry headquarters and complex on Park Road in Charlotte, and was later moved to studios constructed at the ministry's new 2500-acre mixed use family theme park and resort in Fort Mill, South Carolina known as Heritage USA. Bakker's conspicuous consumption and prosperity gospel preaching led critics to claim that PTL stood for "Pass The Loot."
Scandal and subsequent demise
Due to his involvement in highly publicized financial and sexual scandals, Bakker resigned on March 19, 1987. He turned the cable network, the Heritage USA complex and all ministry assets over to fellow televangelist Jerry Falwell. Falwell became CEO of parent company, Heritage Village Church & Missionary Fellowship, Inc. and assumed control of the network and of its flagship program. Falwell's involvement was deemed newsworthy[by whom?] as the PTL ministries were a part of the Assemblies of God denomination and Falwell was a Baptist. Ministry supporters questioned Falwell's intentions and speculatively attributed his interest solely to maintaining control of the lucrative cable-television empire owned by PTL to use to broadcast his own ministry programming from his Lynchburg, Virginia headquarters.
One commentator noted that "Bakker arranged for Falwell to take over PTL in March in an effort to avoid what he called a 'hostile takeover' of the television ministry by people threatening to expose a sexual encounter he admitted to having seven years earlier with church secretary Jessica Hahn." According to Hahn, on the afternoon of December 6, 1980, when she was a 21 year-old church secretary, Bakker and another preacher, John Wesley Fletcher drugged her and raped her for "about 15 minutes". Hahn stated she overheard Bakker say afterward to another PTL staffer, "Did you get her too?"
A federal grand jury ultimately indicted Bakker for directing millions of dollars of church funds to personal use. Much of the nation watched the court case to see the outcome of the $165 million in donations.
The PTL Club continued as a television program for considerable time after this, first with Falwell as its host and PTL personality Doug Oldham as co-host. Falwell later brought in Christian singer Gary McSpadden as the show's co-host, along with PTL musical talent Ron Aldridge. The show was renamed PTL Today, then — in an effort to distance the show from the PTL name — Heritage Today. Aldridge continued as co-host alongside another PTL singer, Brenda Davis, after Falwell suddenly resigned from the now-bankrupt PTL ministry. McSpadden and Oldham subsequently left the show out of support for Falwell's decision to resign his position with the ministry.
With Falwell's resignation, Sam Johnson, a member of the PTL ministry team, assumed leadership and incorporated a new entity known as Heritage Ministries to run the television program and associated ministry functions. As Heritage USA and the PTL assets were now tied up in bankruptcy reorganization, the new ministry and the television program had to move from their longtime Heritage USA broadcast studios to newly purchased property on Nations Ford Road in Charlotte that was named Heritage Place.
The program remained on the air as late as September 1988, when Johnson faced problems with the IRS.
In 1989, evangelist Morris Cerullo purchased the network out of bankruptcy. As of 2012[update] it operates as INSP from broadcast facilities in Charlotte, with headquarters in nearby Indian Land, South Carolina.
On August 23, 1991, after the second and final day of his re-sentencing hearing, the court reduced Bakker's original 45-year sentence to 18 years—five of which he actually served before being released.
In February 2009, Atlanta, Georgia area investment-banker Ben Dyer announced his intention to auction off over 15,000 hours of videotaped episodes of The PTL Club on March 27, 2009. A friend of Jim Bakker's purchased the programs.
- "PTL Considering Future". Associated Press. Aug 10, 1987. Retrieved August 27, 2013.
- Steve Baker. PTL-Falwell Associated Press. July 21, 1987
- Transcript of interview with Larry King, CNN, July 14, 2005
- "Jim Bakker". GospelGrace.com. Archived from Jim Bakker the original on 2007-08-30.
- Ostling, Richard N. (1988-12-19). "Jim Bakker's Crumbling World". Time magazine. Retrieved 2007-12-05.
- IRS Asks Court to Stop PTL Show
- "Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker's old shows up for sale". Associated Press. 2009-02-28. Retrieved 2009-03-01.