July 23, 2007

Sale! Salvation only $1,000!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 9:04 pm

tilton.jpgReading a few days ago about the death of Tammy Faye Bakker reminded me of how she first gained national prominence as the wife of religious huckster Jim Bakker and how, together, they bilked countless people out of hundreds of millions of dollars in a fraudulent scheme that ultimately landed Jim Bakker in jail. I never understood how she escaped indictment.

Speaking of religious hucksters, have you ever caught the act of Robert Tilton (pictured above), probably the most unabashed huckster of them all? While some televangelists pleas for donations are subtle and occupy only a small part of their programs, Tilton was open and in your face, all the time, about how important it was for the viewer to send him money – lots of it — and often.

His message, stripped of detail, was that the only way to liberate your faith was to make a monetary vow and to make the vow in an amount more than you think you were able to afford ($1,000 was the vow he pitched the most). His version of preaching consisted of spending a good deal of time with a well-worn Bible in hand, bookmarked to the verses that he could interpret to convince viewers that God wanted you to send money to him (Tilton, not God, because God’s zip code remains a mystery).

Tilton would often stop in the midst of his preaching to make goofy faces and do a bit of “speaking in tongues.” He also would sometimes stop in mid-sentence while he was receiving a direct transmission from the Almighty, which often would be followed by his staring directly into the camera and saying something like, ”There is someone out there who is worried about losing his job and is so troubled that he is unable to sleep. Call me NOW and make a vow!”

Well, duh, at any given time, that probably applied to a couple thousand people, particularly since his show was broadcast at a time when viewed by insomniacs. Still, I am certain that more than one poor, vulnerable person thought, ”My God, he is talking to ME!!” whereupon they called the prominently displayed 800 number and promised away the family’s rainy day money.

If the viewer was not convinced by either of the foregoing ploys to make a vow, the “testimonials” surely would push him over the top:

“Pastor Tilton, we were being hounded by creditors and the bank was ready to foreclose on our home. I watched you, and I called in my vow. I sent our last hundred dollars and vowed to send one hundred dollars a month. You know what? The day after I sent my check, my husband learned that he would be getting lots of overtime for the next six months!”

To which Tilton would respond with a “Halleluiah” followed by something that sounded like, “Kondobatoya akaloomboya” (the tongue-speaking thing).

Tilton was off the air for a while following a network special that exposed some of his shenanigans, and after that he tried another show in which he was doing “demon blasting,” (i.e. shouting crazy shit at a “possessed” person), which apparently never caught on (although I suspect the demons might have gotten a kick out of it).

He is back on the air these days on the BET Network, where he, along with the help of his third wife, is busy relieving people of their money in exchange for a promise of a heavenly payoff commensurate with the size of their “vow.” He is currently selling his books on his website, entitled, How to Pay Your Bills Supernaturally and How to be Rich and Have Everything You Ever Wanted, both of which I’m quite certain advocate the spiritual importance of sending him money.

I find the antics of religious con artists like Tilton (and the Bakkers) to be beneath contempt, but Tilton did provide excellent fodder for the masterfully done, hilarious videos that appear here, here, here and here.

I’m not religious, and I certainly don’t pretend to know what God would think of people like Tilton, but I like to think that he/she/it wouldn’t approve.


  1. People like that are nothing more than crooks using God to fleece the masses. Pat Robertson is among the worst. It’s best not to watch there programs.

    Comment by Kevin — July 23, 2007 @ 10:00 pm

  2. I never told you this about me, but I actually provided the sound effects for those videos. It’s a very special talent I possess.

    Comment by Erica — July 23, 2007 @ 10:26 pm

  3. Yeah, well those are sound effects. I am capable of farting in tongues. That’s gotta be worth a grand. Make a vow.

    Pastor Jimbo

    Comment by Jim — July 23, 2007 @ 10:40 pm

  4. I had to laugh at this post. Hadn’t thought about Tilton in forever! Medieval Inn in Dallas used to run a video of Tilton and his rants – this was in the early ’90’s. Every time he closed his eyes a fart would sound. The longer he closed his eyes OR if he squeezed them shut – the longer and/or louder the fart would be. Then there was the time when he would get up from his desk and go running to the cathedral (I think) It was a fart every step!

    Wonder where those videos are now??

    Comment by Nina — July 23, 2007 @ 11:04 pm

  5. Oops – meant to say – glad you found the videos! My friends and I had many a laugh while drinking yards of beer!

    Comment by Nina — July 23, 2007 @ 11:06 pm

  6. Jimbo,
    Having lived in Tulsa for many years, I’m very familiar with Tilton’s shenanigans. But you gotta admit, he does have great farookin’ hair!

    Our payroll hotline at work was one digit different than Oral Roberts Prayer Line. We would get all kinds of pathetic calls. “My son is in prison. I’ve sent you my last $20. Can you pray for him, Brother Oral?” And then they dialed the wrong number to boot. Jeez.

    Comment by Jerry — July 23, 2007 @ 11:21 pm

  7. “I am capable of farting in tongues.”

    Know what Pastorus Hairboyitus? That’s just something I didn’t need to know about you. Mmmm-kay? What you might call farookin’ GROSS. Besides, I’d be far more impressed if you could fart in the English language.

    Comment by Erica — July 24, 2007 @ 4:35 am

  8. I’m trying to find out which TV evangelist I can send money to so I can see your blog on my home computer. It won’t load in IE or Firefox on my PC, yet it will load in AOL (which uses IE as it’s base browser, go figure). I can view it at work on my Mac, using any browser I want. Very frustrating.

    Comment by gregor — July 24, 2007 @ 7:12 am

  9. I don’t think I ever saw Tilton – for that matter I never saw the Bakker’s either as I passed those channels by without stopping. I believe I first heard about the PTL when I was a teen and it shocked me that people would not only waste their time listening to such phoneys, but that they sent money… hard earned money, to an obvious scam artist and a woman with such bad makeup! Sheesh.

    Comment by Teresa — July 24, 2007 @ 8:07 am

  10. Back in the early 60`s,several of my friends & I found an ad from one of the bogus degree paper mills in the back of a “ahem” mens book advertising “divinity degrees”……for the sum of 100 dollars & certified documentation of at least two parishoners they would issue you a “Doctor of Divinity Degree” so you could found a church of your own. “The Temple of Divine Revelation & Enlightenment of Free Thought”

    I found this to be quite hilarious, one guy wanted to be the marriage guidance counseler for the church, another wanted to take charge of the youth activities “girls choir” I still don`t trust him . Me,I wanted to be the tele-evangelist,but try again & again , I could not keep a straight face while exhorting the faithful to give until they felt saved. It might be because this rehearsal was before my fellow chuch founders in the garage rather then in the temple of enlightenment….who knows I never followed through with the idea.Besides I did not have the $100.00

    I probably should have though…….armed with a genuine divinity degree I would have been one up on Rev`n Jackson

    Comment by dudley1 — July 24, 2007 @ 8:30 am

  11. oh my word. i used to watch that show religiously.

    course i didn’t think it was reality based, it was on at like two in the morning and he’s the one that always asked that you lay your hands on the tv or stare at the blue dot or some such. you mean he was serious? i thought it was the drugs.

    Comment by shoe — July 24, 2007 @ 8:57 am

  12. I saw that Tammy was cremated..I figured she was so crooked they would just screw her body into the ground.

    Never had much use for a shaman of any type..put them in the same class as I do politicians and tort lawyers…at the bottom of my guest list and at the top of my shit list.

    Comment by GUYK — July 24, 2007 @ 12:11 pm

  13. He makes a great farting preacher, I saw a min of him on TV and his relentless money grubbing is disgusting

    Comment by Hammer — July 24, 2007 @ 7:14 pm

  14. This was a good article. Just goes to show there is a sucker born every minute.

    Comment by nickel1942 — July 24, 2007 @ 7:23 pm

  15. Holy smokes those farting videos are on a whole bunch of websites, I only viewed about a minute of one of them and couldn’t stop laughing. (Fart jokes never get old!)


    Just paste that google search into your browser!

    Comment by Mike — July 25, 2007 @ 1:18 am

  16. […] 4. Save your soul for only $1,000. […]

    Pingback by Electric Venom » Blog Archive » Nine Nibbles — July 25, 2007 @ 12:42 pm

  17. Bakker’s PTL:Pass The Loot.

    Comment by Bill — July 25, 2007 @ 9:13 pm

  18. Back in the early 50s when I was but a wee lad, a traveling Revival sent up its tent near our house.
    Now going to a Catholic school and attending rather sedate Masses, I had no idea what to expect from this phenomenon. Being very curious I sneaked up to the tent and watched. It was a combination of Broadway, Hollywood, and a lot borrowed from black preachers. I had never seen such contagious emotion displayed, especially on a hot Alabama summer night. It felt as if you are prey mesmerized by the gaze of a predator and can’t escape. As Jimbo said in a comment on a previous post I had to say three Hail Marys to escape.

    Comment by Bill — July 25, 2007 @ 9:38 pm

  19. Ah, yes – Brother Bob. When I lived in Dallas, some friends and I would sometimes go to his “services”, always careful to sit in the back where our snide/demeaning/cruel/vicious/other comments wouldn’t disturb the paying masses.

    Comment by DMerriman — July 26, 2007 @ 5:14 pm

  20. Has Jim Bakker, changed ? http://www.collings-bakker.com

    Comment by john collings — April 17, 2008 @ 1:08 pm

  21. Has Televangelist Jim Bakker changed? http://www.collings-bakker.com

    Comment by john collings — May 24, 2008 @ 3:18 pm

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