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