Son of a preacher man: Jay Bakker and his Christian Revolution

Matthew Hall
11 min readMar 14, 2020

On a tiny stage of a tiny bar in the heart of Brooklyn, New York, a tattooed guy with black-rimmed eye glasses, wearing a black t-shirt, jeans, white socks, and black shoes, a kind of cross between comedian Drew Carey and the goofy singer from Weezer, stands in front of an unused kick drum and guitar amplifier.

All things considered, this is not unusual.

And on this warm May Sunday afternoon at Pete’s Candy Store (that’s the name of the bar), the guy looks out across an expectant 30 or so people sitting in front of him, taps the microphone to check it’s live, and smiles when the club’s “lightshow”, a row of bare dressing-room-style white light bulbs, flicker on.

“Wow, it is all of a sudden so much more glorious up here!” says our guy, with a grin.

The audience laughs and Jay Bakker, original son of a preacher man, gets his next gig on the road.

It’s this — the venue, the location, the audience, the tattoos, the do-it-yourself punk rock attitude — that, within a bigger picture, which is unusual.

You see, Bakker, 31 years old, is a Christian preacher. Not just any preacher either. He’s the son of Jim and Tammy Fay Bakker, the husband and wife television evangelists who, during the 1980s, created religious, broadcasting, and corporate history with their Praise The Lord empire.

The Bakkers were so hot they created Heritage USA, a grand and godly theme park in South Carolina fitted out with water slides, to match their TV satellite network and multi-million dollar bank accounts.

Then, of course, it all went wrong. Very wrong.

Jim got caught up in a sex scandal. Praise The Lord spun into financial scandal. Moral Majority leader Jerry Falwell, who died in May, described Bakker at the time as “the greatest scab and cancer on the face of Christianity in 2000 years of church history.” Which, regardless of your take on religion, is a big call.

Jim Bakker went to jail, was divorced by his wife, and wrote a book called “I Was Wrong.”

Jay, then known as Jamie Charles Bakker, was a kid at the time and watched all this unfold from within a bubble that spectacularly burst over his…

Matthew Hall

Paella correspondent for @guardianUS @smh and others: