In his blog at The Huffington Post, our friend and colleague and former WOW associate, Gabriel Rotello, tells what he learned while coproducing the WOW documentary The Eyes of Tammy Faye. It’s the rarely told real story of how Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s “friend” Jerry Falwell played Satan in the fall of their PTL ministry and Heritage USA theme park. It should be required reading.
Falwell was the most powerful Christian activist in the nation, significantly responsible for the election of Ronald Reagan. He also knew that Jim and Tammy were far more popular than he. Worse, the Bakkers didn’t tow Falwell’s harsh, demonizing party line. They preached love, not hate. They didn’t condemn people, they embraced everybody, including – horrors – gays and people with AIDS. They had never endorsed Ronald Reagan or gone in for right-wing politics. Visitors had fun at their theme park. And perhaps their worst sin of all – they owned a TV satellite that gave them immense power to spread their message of love and forgiveness and inclusion.