Synopses & Reviews
Chapter OneThe Keys to the KingdomIf anyone had an excuse to lose faith in God, it would've been me. Id been beaten up so often by traditional religion that turning away from God, as so many others my age did, would have been the most natural reaction.I started life on Christian television. You would think that, based on my family, some of the most influential Christians in the world, I would have led an exemplary life. As it turns out, I wasn't so different from other pastors' kids, who are notoriously rebellious. After all, we have pretty high expectations to rebel against.The gospel my father preached and my mother stood for is often flattened out by others to one of material riches. I hate that. My parents' real message was always about prosperity of the soul: charity, love, forgiveness, and respect for, others. Unlike so many other ministers, they believed that only God had the right to judge. But I lived life in the shadows of that ideal.Yes, my family did things wrong. And so did I. It would be a long time before we would get back to the light. In the shadows where we walked, I would see many dark things and meet many dark people. Along, with my family, I experienced the dark side of a Christian message that no one should ever have to endure. I lived through the dark side of my parents' marriage, which ultimately did not stand the test of time or hardship. And I dove headlong into the dark side of myself.Considering how my life began twenty-five years ago, on December 18, 1975, that's a far cry from how things were supposed to play out. The doctors had told my parents that my mother would be in labor with me for at least eighteen hours. So my dad, per my mom's wishes, went aheadas usual with his TV ministry show. But when the doctor was forced to perform a cesarean and cut me right out of my mom's belly, Dad was still on camera. As soon as the program directors got word that I'd been born, they flashed "It's a boy! It's a boy! It's a boy!" across the screen. I think the TV audience knew I'd arrived before my dad did.Having millions of television viewers share my life would be the norm for me for the next eleven years, for I was basically born into the premier family of a megamedia church. I was required to appear on TV with my parents every Sunday for church services, every holiday, and anywhere from twice a month to five times a week on top of that.It was an amazing time in Christian America. My father was at the forefront of a group of men and women who forever changed how Christ's message was received. He, like Oral Roberts, Robert Schuller, and Billy Graham, among others, found a way to broadcast sermons to millions from coast to coast. And in the process, people began to look to him for guidance. In short, our lives revolved around my parents' television ministry, called PTL, which stood for "Praise the Lord."I guess we were supposed to be the perfect Christian family. But even though my parents openly discussed some of our problems on camera, things weren't really what you'd think.PTL was my father's dream, one he worked hard for. My mother and father's ministry had come a long way from handmade puppet performances on Pat Robertson's fledgling Christian Broadcasting Network, their life a long way from hanging their own wallpaper in a one-bedroom third-floor walk-up rental apartment.My parents weren't born into the abundance I was. My mom grew up poor inrural International Falls, Minnesota, with a mother who was ostracized because she had divorced, a loving stepfather who worked at the local paper mill, and seven younger brothers and sisters she had to help care for.They kept their clothes clean with a wringer washing machine, depended on an icebox instead of a refrigerator, and, despite twenty- or thirty-below-zero winter temperatures, had to use an outhouse instead of an indoor bathroom.My dad's family had a little more money, but not much.My parents met in North Central Bible College in Minnesota, where they were both studying for the ministry. They married soon after, on April 1, 1961, left school, and became itinerant evangelists. Mom played the accordion and sang, and Dad preached. During Sunday school, they would perform a puppet show for children: Mom provided the voices and action for Suzy Moppett and Allie the Alligator, while Dad stood out front and talked to the puppets.In 1966, that show landed them on Pat Robertson's new TV network. The audience loved them, and what was supposed to be a one-time appearance became a regular feature. The puppet show's success also led to Dad's hosting a Christian TV show called the "700 Club, which he had modeled after Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show. The talk show proved an instant hit, and the station's viewership and donations soared. Since the new television ministry didn't sell advertising, its existence was completely dependent on donations. And with this new format, TV religion began to sweep across the nation and eventually around the world.After eight years, Mom and Dad moved away from Pat Robertson. After helping found TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network), they launched PTL. Theirshow was so popular in Charlotte, North Carolina, where they'd moved, that Dad decided to buy time on some fifty stations -- one station at a time -- across the country to see how it would do nationally. The overwhelming success that washed over them seemed heaven-sent.
In Son of a Preacher Man Jay Bakker tells the compelling story of growing up in the glaring lights of a television studio and surviving the Bakker family's public disgrace, the fall of the PTL (Praise The Lord) media empire, and Bakker's subsequent plunge into a morass of anxiety and self-destruction. But this is more than a tell-all. It is a story that dramatizes the human toll of these events on the Bakker family.
With insight into the seismic shifts that nearly destroyed his father and wrecked his parents' longtime marriage, Jay Bakker's story tells of a prodigal son's return to the true meaning of God's love and acceptance.
In Son of a Preacher Man
Jay Bakker, son of famous televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, tells the compelling story of growing up in the glaring lights of a television studio. It's all here: the Bakker family's public disgrace, the fall of the PTL (Praise The Lord) media empire, and Bakker's subsequent plunge into a morass of anxiety and selfdestruction. But Son of a Preacher Man
is more than a tell-all -- it is a story that dramatizes the human toll of this tragedy on the Bakker family, with insight into the seismic shifts that nearly destroyed his father and wrecked his parents' longtime marriage. It is the story of a prodigal son's return to the true meaning of God's love and acceptance. It is the story of a boy who was lost, but on the journey back from ruin finds a better way to understand and live life. It is the story of discovering God's grace and of becoming a man.
Despite years of disillusionment, alcoholism, and heartbreak, Bakker managed to continue on his spiritual quest. First he worked to redeem his father...then his faith. Bakker began his service with Revolution, a ministry for skateboarders, punk rockers, and hippiesthe street kids he knew best. He shared the message that saved his life -- the message of Jesus that God's love is infinitely generous. Now Bakker has a large and growing ministry among the tattooed and pierced of downtown Atlanta who feel rejected by the traditional Church yet flock to hear his message of grace and love.
Ultimately, Son of a Preacher Man is a story about resurrection -- of one lost young man, of his disgraced and imprisoned father, and of the hope that can't be destroyed by the machinations of power-hungry preachers, The long, lonely road that Bakker traveled taught him that you can't earn or make yourself worthy of the love of God, but if you are willing to let go and open up, that infinite love is waiting to welcome you home with open arms.
About the Author
Jay Bakker lives in Atlanta with his wife, Amanda. They both work for Safehouse Outreach, where Jay is the pastor of Revolution, a ministry to a disillusioned subculture.