Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker: Inside Their Relationship and the Scandals That Brought Down Their Empire


As a couple, Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker created an evangelical empire that encompassed a Christian ministry, broadcasting network and theme park. They became two of the most famous televangelists in America, whose devout teachings often appeared at odds with the extravagant lifestyle they led. The fact that their eventual fall from televised grace came from a sex and financial scandal only served to increase the public’s fascination with them.

The couple connected quickly and soon got their first television show

Tammy Faye LaValley was born in International Falls, Minnesota, in 1942 to Pentecostal preacher parents. Jim Bakker was a self-described visionary and dreamer who was born in 1940 and grew up in Muskegon, Michigan. They met in 1960 as students at North Central Bible College in Minneapolis and for their first date, Jim invited Tammy Faye to attend church with him. In her memoir Tammy: Telling it My Way, Tammy Faye recalls Jim saying to her at the end of that date: “Tammy LaValley, I have loved you ever since the minute I saw you walk into school…” before asking her to marry him.


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