AP 07/21 0510 PTL-Falwell By STEVE BAKER Associated Press Writer PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (A

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AP 07/21 0510 PTL-Falwell By STEVE BAKER Associated Press Writer PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (AP) -- PTL "tax scams" eventually will lead to audits of television preachers who want to prove their credibility, the Rev. Jerry Falwell predicted on a visit to the resort area where Jim Bakker lives. Falwell preached to about 500 people Monday night after beginning his day in Washington, where he and other religious broadcasters discussed tax laws and their ministries with U.S. Rep. J.J. Pickle, D-Texas. Pickle, chairman of the House Ways and Means oversight subcommittee, said he was considering holding public hearings on the tax advantages enjoyed by television preachers. PTL, the television ministry founded by Bakker and led by Falwell since March, is being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service and the Justice Department to determine whether tax-deductible contributions were used improperly. "The government simply wants to root out those organizations that really are just tax scams," Falwell said at a news conference. "That really is where PTL was." Falwell was joined at the Washington meeting by the Revs. Jimmy Swaggart, Ben Armstrong and other TV evangelists. Falwell said the evangelists contended that religious broadcasters could regulate themselves. He predicted independent auditors and a clearer accountability to donors would be part of a new, self-policed industry. He said PTL's Heritage USA complex in Fort Mill, S.C., was competing unfairly against tax-paying tourist attractions, and that the tax-exempt ministry should be separated from the running of hotels and amusement parks. "We think Internal Revenue will like that and we think we'll be able to face competitors that we were unfairly competing with," Falwell said. "I think the real problem at PTL was prosperity theology ... that God is a holy slot machine. You put in $10, you get out $20 ... especially if you give it to the person who's doing the preaching," Falwell said. 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. Bakker tried to regain control of PTL but has been resisted by Falwell and a new board that blamed Bakker for what it labeled extravagances when it sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection with debts estimated at $72 million. Bakker and his wife, Tammy Faye, have moved from South Carolina to a mountainside home in Gatlinburg within 15 miles of where Falwell spoke. But the Bakkers have been traveling recently and weren't at home Monday. Last page !


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