Tuesday, October 9, 2012

25 years ago: Jerry Falwell resigns as PTL chairman

On October 8, 1987, Rev. Jerry Falwell resigned as chairman of the PTL television “ministry” and the entire board of directors also resigned, more than six months after Rev. Falwell had taken the reins at the request of the “ministry’s” founder, Jim Bakker, when Mr. Bakker had become entangled in a sex scandal. The resignations of Rev. Falwell and the board came the day after a U.S. federal bankruptcy court rejected a reorganization plan submitted by Rev. Falwell, and ordered creditors of PTL to submit their own plan.

Sam Johnson, a member of the "ministry" team, took over from Mr. Falwell and incorporated a new entity called Heritage Ministries to run the PTL Club television program and other functions while the assets of the "ministry" and Heritage USA theme park were tied up in bankruptcy reorganization. Mr. Falwell, a Baptist, would have been wiser to led the "ministry" collapse under the "management" of Mr. Bakker, whose credentials were held by the Assemblies of God. When I think of Jerry Falwell's time as chairman of PTL, the main thing that comes to mind is the photo of him in his business suit going down the water slide at Heritage USA. A downhill slide was indeed an appropriate image for Heritage USA and televangelism in general.

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