Beyond Tears and Mascara

The first thing one notices about the handsome young man in the jacket photo is his two full sleeves of tattoos. The black T-shirt and short haircut lend him a resemblance to rock ranter Henry Rollins. It's actually Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker's son in the picture, though-Jamie Charles all grown up-and somehow we're not surprised.

The jacket blurb says Jay Bakker currently ministers to "a disillusioned subculture." Now, some might argue that Bakker's folks contributed to that subculture's disillusionment. It has been noted that the under-35 demographic is a tad obsessed with keeping it real, and Jim and Tammy Faye weren't exactly brimming with earthy authenticity. It may have been unfair, or a setup as the son alleges, but the downfall of the Bakkers was mourned by few in Jay's age group. Many people thought or likely said aloud: good riddance. And in that sentiment, the skeptical public was joined by vast hordes of reporters, congregations, and most of the other high-profile evangelists of the era. Jim Bakker's televised tears and Tammy Faye's mascara became the stuff of "Saturday Night Live" skits.

So this is what Jay Bakker, son of Jim and Tammy Faye, has to unpack. Naturally, anyone brandishing a book contract must deliver a yarn spun with inspiration or prurience. Of course, Jay Bakker's story promises both. His dad went to prison. His parents divorced. He lived at ground zero of the media blast that leveled his father's own evangelical Magic Kingdom, Heritage USA. As a 13-year-old suffering through his father's trial on fraud and conspiracy charges, a tabloid actually offered Jay Bakker $30,000 for an interview.

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Sojourners Magazine September-October 2001
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