Feel free to copy, paste, and print this letter, then mail it off to your Senator, Representative, or local IRS office. Even your local newspaper might be interested. Maybe your letter will be the one that sends Jim Bakker back to prison where he belongs!
Televangelist Jim Bakker exploiting tax rules for religious organizations
Dear Senator / Congressman [insert name here]
I am respectfully petitioning you to investigate what I believe is blatant exploitation of our tax code at the expense of the American public. Televangelist Jim Bakker, the so-called pastor who went to prison in the 1980s for tax fraud, is back on television again, and nearly his entire show is devoted to selling products. All of his show discussion, or what may be construed as 'preaching', is used as a lead-in to product sales. Here is only a small sampling of what he sells:
Dehydrated Food = $3,000
Camera Desktop Ornament = $1,000
Silver Sol Miracle Ointment = $100
Hand-powered survival flashlights = $20
The list of products for sale goes on and on. Jim Bakker stokes fear in his audience by telling them that the world will soon be ending, staple foods are in short supply, and that their dollars will ultimately be worthless as currency. He then heavily pitches them his goods for sale and takes their so-called worthless money. His sham ministry, of course, receives a tax-exemption while engaging in this behavior.
I presume that he gets away with this by the simple fact that he refers to these items as 'Love Gifts' as opposed to 'Items For Sale'. This is wrong. Absolutely, without a doubt, it's wrong. These are not gifts, they are items being sold in a business transaction. Bakker, in fact, has a warehouse where he stocks these 'gifts' for distribution to 'donors'. Would a church dispensing only 'love gifts' require a distribution warehouse?
Jim Bakker now hosts an unaccredited college at his Morningside community which purports to train 'students' in the art of television ministry. He charges these 'students' between $7k - $8k per semester. He then uses these students as free, unpaid labor to operate his camera equipment and produce his show. The tuition? Paid for through 'scholarship funds' solicited from his audience.
Jim Bakker's ministry is registered in the name of his mother-in-law, and he reportedly makes only $400 per week in income. You and I both know that his declared income is a load of garbage, and that the only reason he takes such little payment is because he still owes millions of dollars to the American public. One need only look at the various vacation properties he frequents to understand that he is likely laundering money through various figureheads in his ministry in order to personally benefit from the ministry's income while avoiding payment of back taxes.
I am utterly dismayed by the fact that Jim Bakker gets away with this exploitation of our tax code by engaging in product sales through his tax-exempt ministry. While he may not be the only one, he is certainly the most public and the least delicate in his blatant disregard for our tax laws. With his fear-mongering and deception of the naive, he also flies in the face of basic human decency. It's said that there's a sucker born every minute; that doesn't mean it's right to take advantage of them.
A quick internet search for 'Jim Bakker Show fraud' will uncover the many different websites / discussion forums / YouTube videos which record and publicize Jim Bakker's shenanigans. They are highly trafficked and are visited by multitudes of other like-minded Americans who are completely fed up with Jim Bakker. Our shared disgust crosses political boundaries, as we are both male and female, religious and non-religious, Red, Blue and Independent. We are Americans first and foremost, and we are disgusted with people like Jim Bakker who rip people off in the name of religion.
Action taken against Jim Bakker will go a long way towards restoring faith in the elected official. Why? Because it is the right thing to do. There is no favor to be won, only the satisfaction of knowing that truth and decency triumphs over lies and impropriety. Truth, justice, and the American way is what defines us, not thieves and cheats like Jim Bakker.
As a human being and an American, I ask you to please investigate Jim Bakker. If he is found committing wrongdoing, hold him accountable (once again) for his lying and thievery. It will take little more than five minutes of viewing his show to understand why he is so very wrong, and possibly criminal, in his actions. His show (The Jim Bakker Show) is broadcast Monday through Friday at 7am on your local religious television station.
Thank you for your time.