AP 06/22 1408 PTL By WILLIAM STRACENER Associated Press Writer TEGA CAY, S.C. (AP) -- La

Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

AP 06/22 1408 PTL By WILLIAM STRACENER Associated Press Writer TEGA CAY, S.C. (AP) -- Lawyer Melvin Belli said today that a caretaker should run PTL while he helps Jim and Tammy Bakker fight to regain the ministry, but the Rev. Jerry Falwell called their efforts "un-Christian shenanigans" and said God would decide the battle. "The odds are very, very much in favor" of the Bakkers returning to the TV ministry, Belli said Sunday after meeting with the couple for four hours in the PTL-owned home they are occupying on Lake Wylie. Bakker said Sunday for the first time that he wants to regain control of the ministry he handed over to Falwell in March amid a sex scandal. Belli, in an interview today before flying back to San Francisco, where he lives, said Pat Boone would be a good choice for temporary leader of the 518,0000-member ministry. He said Boone "has no axe to grind." Boone, in a statement issued through his manager, Tim Swift, said no representatives of Falwell or the Bakkers have contacted him. Boone said he hopes "Jerry and Jim and their attorneys will get together in a room, close the doors, pray and not come out until they have a meeting of their hearts and minds and put the whole thing to rest." Falwell said in a telephone interview Sunday from his home in Lynchburg, Va., that the fate of PTL, which owes $72 million, is in the hands of the bankruptcy court. "I am sure the federal court will take into consideration that it was under Reverend Bakker's leadership that the terrible violations which brought about the virtual collapse of the ministry occurred," he said. "Most of us who who love Reverend Bakker and who love the PTL ministry are saddened that he would put himself ahead of the survival of the ministry," he said. "However, I believe that God will overrule all this monkey business and will recover this ministry." Falwell added that Bakker had a full week to reconsider turning the ministry over to its present board. "It was not until some of his dissident friends encouraged him to resume leadership at PTL that all of these un-Christian shenanigans began," Falwell said. Belli said Sunday that Bakker wasn't properly advised when he gave up the ministry he founded to Falwell. "Had we been in at the beginning of this, Jimmy never would have resigned," he said. Calling Bakker his "finest client" in 53 years of practicing law, Belli said the defrocked Pentecostal minister's side has not been told. "We're going to tell it without venom" over the next two to three days, he said. Belli, an Episcopalian, said he wants to meet with PTL officials and the old bord of directors. He also said he would like to set up a meeting between the Bakkers and Falwell. Belli, 79, has represented Jack Ruby, who killed John F. Kennedy's assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald; victims of the Bhopal, India, chemical leak in 1984; and families of those killed when the Soviets shot down a Korean Air Lines jet in 1983. Bakker said Sunday he wanted to make peace but had to seek legal counsel when the ministry's new leaders filed for reorganization. "Our desires and goal is that the ministry continue, that all creditors be paid 100 percent and that all the partners have fulfilled the vision that we gave them to have a place for retreat," Bakker said. When asked if he expected to resume control of the ministry despite recent allegations concerning his sex life and spending practices, Bakker said, "They accused Jesus Christ of the same thing. They said he was a wine-bibber, that he went out with publicans and sinners and prostitutes. Just because people accuse you doesn't change the call of God on your life." Mrs. Bakker added, "And that doesn't make you guilty, either." Meanwhile, contractor Roe Messner said Saturday that he and other PTL creditors are working on a plan to reorganize the ministry in case Falwell's plan in federal bankruptcy court does not call for full payment of debts. Messner, in a telephone interview from Wichita, Kan., said he does not care who runs PTL as long as he gets the money he is due. Messner said the ministry owes him $14 million for work he did at Heritage USA while Bakker was in charge. PTL's business managers were given 120 days in which to present their reorganization plan to the bankruptcy court in Columbia. The plan must be accepted by a majority of the creditors, which include contractors and the TV stations that carry the ministry's program. PTL, which stands for People That Love, or Praise the Lord, listed 1,400 creditors. Today, Jessica Hahn, the former church secretary whose sexual encounter with Bakker seven years ago led to his resignation, said on ABC's "Good Morning America" program she never had been paid "hush money" because of the encounter. Ms. Hahn said she was paid $20,000 plus monthly interest "for damages," but did not specify what the damages were. Belli said Ms. Hahn "demeaned herself" by appearing on television. Last page !


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank