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Larry King Live
The Bakker Family Discusses Living Through Scandal and Personal TragedyAired January 30, 2001 - 9:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, he's the son of a controversial preacher man. Jay Bakker, who's telling all about surviving front- page scandals.
And with him in New York, his mom, Tammy Faye Messner. According to him, they're two of a kind.
And then joining us from Bonifay, Florida, his father, Jim Bakker, now ministering through a camp called "Hope," and Jim's wife, Lori, author of "More Than I Could Ever Ask." They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
The Bakkers have assembled, and it's all regarding Jay Bakker's new and very controversial and very outgoing book called "Son of a Preacher Man: My Search for Grace in the Shadows."
Jay Bakker and family -- Tammy's with him in New York; his father, Jim, and stepmother, Lori, are in Bonifay.
All right, Jay, the obvious -- why write the book?
JAY BAKKER, JIM AND TAMMY FAYE'S SON: Well, it just seemed like it was the right time, and "Rolling Stone" came out with that article, and when "Rolling Stone" came out with the article, Harper Collins gave me a call. And I just wanted to help other kids not have to go through what I went through and still be able to find Jesus.
KING: Was that an article you cooperated with?
JAY BAKKER: Yes, it was. I...
KING: You had no idea then there'd be a book?
JAY BAKKER: No idea then -- no, not at all. It was -- I just -- I rarely do any media stuff. But it was "Rolling Stone" magazine, and I -- that's the group of people that I work with. So I figured I would do that. And then a few months later, Harper Collins called, and it just seemed like the right time. And so we just said yes.
KING: All right. Was it tough to bring this all up again? I mean, I know writing can be a catharsis, but was it hard?
JAY BAKKER: It was nearly impossible. I had to go to a lot of 12-step meetings and a lot of late nights. It was -- it was a very hard thing to do, yeah.
KING: But yet you forged through. And are you happy with the finished work?
JAY BAKKER: I'm very happy with the finished work, yes. I'm glad to have it done. I'm glad to have it behind me.
KING: Let's go through some of this and get the comments from the folks around you and involved. You begin with your childhood. In fact, your birth was announced on television, right? That's a pretty famous way to start.
JAY BAKKER: Yeah.
KING: What was the downside to growing up with well-known parents?
JAY BAKKER: I think it was kids always making fun of me and always hearing your parents being made fun of. And plus, I was overweight, so all the kids were pretty much jealous of me. So this constant scrutiny -- it was like being under a microscope constantly.
KING: Tammy Faye, if you had to do it again, would you not put emphasis on Jay at all? Would you not have discussed the birth on television and the like?
TAMMY FAYE MESSNER: Well, I'll tell you why the birth was discussed on television was because I had the baby before Jim got there. And so the world -- they thought Jim was still there. And so the world knew about Jamie before Jim even did. He was on his way to the hospital. So, that's how that happened.
If I had my way and if I would have known that Jamie was going to have to go through such hideous -- both my children were going to have to go through such hideous hurt and hideous sorrow, I don't know that I would have ever have had children, because I have hurt so bad over them hurting.
KING: Jim, what are your thoughts on being well-known, and therefore, the children have to follow with the name?
JIM BAKKER: Well, you know, I -- my own father said he would not name -- his name was Raleigh. There would be no Raleigh Juniors because the son either lives up or lives down the family name. And I talked to Mr. Como (ph), who was just here a few days ago, and even Barbara Walters, and they talk about the pain that their children bear. And I think it's a sad thing that children have to bear pain because of what their parents do or don't do.
And so if I could do it all over again, I think, No. 1, I'd spend a lot more time with my son. I realized when he came to see me in prison at the age of 16, he was able to come for the first time all by himself. And at the end of that day, he'd spent like eight hours with me, and he said: "Dad, this has been the best day of my life. All I ever wanted was to have you all to myself for one whole day." I mean, it broke my heart. It was like -- I bought him presents when we were on top. He'd mark presents in the Sears catalogue and circle them, and I'd go and buy them all for Christmas. And it wasn't the presents he wanted.
JIM BAKKER: He wanted his dad there.
MESSNER: That's right.
KING: All right. I want to -- what I'm going to do is go through some of the highlights of this extraordinary book and have the comments of our guests about it.
Lori, what was it like to marry into this? What is Jay like as a stepson? Do you feel like an outsider peeping in?
LORI GRAHAM BAKKER, JIM BAKKER'S WIFE: Well, sometimes I do, but they have welcomed me so incredibly into their family, and Jay's an awesome stepson. You know, he was a friend of mine first. He was the first Bakker I knew. So you know, I just knew Jay as Jay. I didn't know him as Jamie Charles, and of course, I knew that Jim and Tammy Faye were his parents because I'd seen what had happened throughout the media. And -- but you know, Jamie was just to me, Jay Bakker: just this cool kid that had a heart for people. And...
KING: What did you think of the book?
LORI BAKKER: I think the book is awesome. I think it's Jay's story. I think it's his heart. And I'm very, very proud of him that he had the courage and that he would even allow himself to go that deep within him -- own -- his own self...
KING: Jay, you write of growing up with full-time bodyguards, all the materials you want, all the material riches you wanted. Would you say you were spoiled?
JAY BAKKER: Yeah. To a certain extent, yes.
I mean, I had -- in one way, I had everything I wanted. But then again, I had no friends. So my toys were my friends. My little action figures were my friends. So it was kind of a give and take. It was really an odd time.
MESSNER: Whenever there was a television show on, like "Superman" or some of those shows that were showing, Jamie would go get all of his little action figures and he would go dress up like Superman or he'd dress up like whatever character it was, and he'd sit there in front of the TV with all of his little friends and do exactly what they were doing on television.
JIM BAKKER: And Jamie's best friends were his bodyguards.
JAY BAKKER: Yeah, they were.
JIM BAKKER: That's a strange -- that's a strange growing up.
KING: We'll be right back with the Bakkers and more of this fantastic, really incredible book and the stories surrounding it with Jay Bakker and Tammy Faye and Jim and Lori Graham. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
KING: Jay Bakker, did you sense that there were problems at home? I know that your parents separated for a while. Did you -- what was it like for a child?
JAY BAKKER: It was really strange. I did sense some problems. I remember when mom was gone and playing a game with my dad on the boat, and I sensed very little. But I knew some things were going on.
MESSNER: When I came back after having left Jim for a period of time, one of the saddest moments in my life was my little boy. He was about 3 years old. And he caught on to my leg and would not let me go, everywhere I went. I had this little 3-year-old clinging on to my leg for fear that mom would go away again. And that -- that's very sad to me.
I'm glad that, through the years, I've been able to make it up to my child.
KING: You had left them and you were involved with someone else at the time, right, Tammy?
MESSNER: Well, I wasn't involved. I wasn't sexually involved, but I was very much mentally involved with someone.
KING: And Jim, how did you feel about all that? How did you react to that, having a problem in a marriage and raising children?
JIM BAKKER: I think one of the saddest things during that time concerning Jamie was -- I think it was one of my secretaries overheard him saying -- I think he was actually sitting inside of a box and he said: "My mommy doesn't love me. Nobody loves me."
And that -- you know, children perceive things in their own little world, and that was the heartbreak for Jamie, and Tammy Sue, too, at the same time.
KING: Now, you keep saying -- Jamie is Jay, right? But you, the parents, call him Jamie?
JIM BAKKER: Yes.
KING: I don't want the audience to think we're talking about two different...
MESSNER: Mama calls him Jamie, and...
JAY BAKKER: Jamie is Jay.
KING: Jamie is Jay. All right, Jay, when the Jessica Hahn story broke, which led to the downfall of all this, how old were you and how did you react?
JAY BAKKER: I was 11 years old, and I wasn't really surprised because I actually remember laying in the back of a car when my dad talked to one of his pastoral friends about what had happened. And so when it all came out, I kind of actually knew about it and it wasn't that surprising to me.
But the fact that PTL was gone and Heritage was gone and all these pastors were saying so many horrible things about my parents really crushed and broke my heart, because I thought these people were our friends. And within seconds, they weren't. And I couldn't even talk to my bodyguards at the time. So it was like walking into a completely different world, which was actually walking into the real world.
MESSNER: But Larry, we were really honest with Jamie about it. And we sat both of our children down and told them exactly what happened. We have never withheld the truth from the kids.
KING: Were you angry, Jay, at your father?
JAY BAKKER: I wasn't really angry, because I didn't know...
MESSNER: I was.
JAY BAKKER: I mean, I wasn't too upset, because I kind of felt that I knew about it, and at the time, I thought mom knew about it. And I might have been upset if I would have know more about what was going on. But at the time, I was young. I thought this was water under the bridge. I didn't think this was any new news for the family, but of course, I was wrong in that situation.
KING: Jim, we have seen now these things happen to famous people -- to the president of the United States, to Jesse Jackson and the like, all in varying degrees. That has to be -- how do you deal with it? How did you deal with it?
JIM BAKKER: Well, the first time Jamie and I talked about it -- Jay -- really to talk about it was when he was 16 and he came to see me in prison. And I told him everything about it, everything that he wanted to know, and talked to him about his own girlfriend and the birds and the bees. And that was really the first time that we had to sit down and really talk about these kinds of intimate details.
But it devastates the children when the father is a public figure and has sinned in their lives. Just now we're hearing more things in the news right now about, you know, public figures. And I look at these others and I really empathize with them. I really understand.
You know, we expect our leaders not to have feet of clay. We expect them to somehow be better than the average person, and we find out they've made mistakes. Sometimes the media and sometimes the society is a little bit judgmental.
But I believe that the message that Jamie Charles has in this book is what I have to live and I have to receive. And it's the message of mercy, a message of grace: that God forgives.
The great man of the Bible, David, which the Bible says, you know, God said he was a man after my own heart, after God's heart. This man committed adultery. This man made many, many, many mistakes, but yet -- and in the end, God is talking to his son, Solomon. And he tells Solomon: "I want you to do as your father did. I want you to be a man after my own heart, a man of integrity."
KING: Lori, do you remember what you were thinking when you were reading and learning all about this story? You didn't know anybody.
LORI BAKKER: No, I didn't. And you know what I was thinking? I can remember this, and I'm glad you asked me, because what I remember -- first of all, I wasn't a Christian at the time and serving the Lord, and you know, living for God and in the ministry or at -- at all.
So when this story broke and I started seeing this, and especially when I would see Tammy Faye on the TV screen, and you know, really crying out for her husband and for the ministry, when I would -- I don't remember seeing the children. I don't remember seeing Jamie or Tammy Sue...
KING: But what did you think?
LORI BAKKER: But what I thought was, "I cannot believe what they're doing to this man." He is -- you know, what he's done is not that great of a -- of a sin, I mean, compared to what people do on a daily basis.
KING: All right. Hold it right there. Let me get a break. Let me get -- we'll be right back with more. The book is "Son of a Preacher Man." The guests are Jay Bakker and family. Don't go away.
KING: As we've said, this is a very honest book. Jay, you write about what happened to your mom when all of this broke. Now, you're only 11, but she was hallucinating, doing things that really shocked you, had to attend Betty Ford as an outpatient. How did you react to your mother's reaction?
JAY BAKKER: That was the beginning of the end. I mean, that was the beginning right before we lost PTL. Mom had had an allergic reaction to some medication that she had taken, and we had to fly her to -- where was that?
MESSNER: To Palm Springs...
JAY BAKKER: To Palm Springs.
MESSNER: I had pneumonia...
JAY BAKKER: And she had pneumonia...
MESSNER: ... and had tried to medicate myself, and as a result, overmedicated myself.
JAY BAKKER: She started to hallucinate on the airplane, and it was a very scary time. And it was kind of my first realization of becoming a man and growing up and moving on, because the next thing that happened to us, as soon as we went through the Betty Ford clinic, Jerry Falwell came to the house and we lost PTL.
KING: Boy. Now that -- at that age, loss is a very difficult thing to deal with, isn't it?
JAY BAKKER: Yes, it is. And it's extremely devastating, and it all happened at once. It's really strange, when I look back and think that all my hard memories and my lost memories are from, like, 11 -- from, like, one to 11 are, like, what I consider the happier days.
I mean, of course, now I'm married and I'm moving on with my life and that's why I've written this book. But it is -- it's quite a strange thing to look back on.
KING: When your father loses PTL, here's what you write. "He almost went catatonic. He would lie curled up in a fetal position at the end of the couch listening to ministry tapes of pastors preaching and gospel musical recordings." Were you worried about him?
JAY BAKKER: I was terrified. I had never saw my father like that. I mean, he was -- he was blaring these preaching tapes and just sitting there. I was -- yes, I was terrified. I thought my dad may have lost his mind. And I knew something had happened. And I -- at that point I realized that PTL and Heritage U.S.A. and everything my family had ever known was gone. So it was one of the scariest days of my life.
KING: Jim, at that point were you able to give any thought to effect on children?
JIM BAKKER: In those early months that Jamie's talking about, I was trying to hold on to even a bit of sanity. Literally, I had lost the will to live at that point. And in fact, I really prayed to die. I prayed to die every day. In fact, at that moment, I was anticipating committing suicide. I was thinking about suicide constantly.
I felt I'd brought disgrace to my family, to my God, to the people who loved me. And I felt the world would be better off without me. And I was in like a fetal position for many, many, many months.
And sad to say, you know, I tried to think about my children. In fact, I took Jamie up to Big Bear Lake to go fishing. We were going to have a fishing trip, father and son. And one of the bodyguards found us there, and you know, instead of taking that moment that I had planned, and you know, which I should have done years before, the news was breaking that Ted Koppel was going to break more of the story that night and they said, "You've got to come back."
And so there, once again, life is too complicated to give the time to this boy that he really needed. And when I landed in prison, they would send me pictures. People somehow, I don't know even how these people got the pictures, but they were pictures that friends and partners had taken at meetings. And I remember a series of pictures that was taken of Jamie when he was a little boy at a retreat -- we were doing television in Florida. And I thought, "This is the cutest little boy I've ever seen in my life and I missed his childhood."
And so all of those painful times just pour onto you, and especially those prison years when you've got too much time to think.
JAY BAKKER: During that time, you know, I always knew my mom -- you know, she'd cry because she loved people so much and cared about people so much. But you know, I never saw my father ever cry. And it was the first time I saw him cry. I remember when he was on Jerry Falwell -- on the phone with Jerry Falwell saying, "Please take care of the partners, please take care of the partners."
And mom actually at that time got stronger, it seemed to me. And she kind of just said, "OK. I'm going to take the head of the family" when dad fell. But to be an 11-year-old kid and see your father broken, who you thought was the strongest man in the world, broken apart, really, really just etched something in my soul, and really changed my life deeply in a deeply different way.
KING: Let me get a break. We'll be right back with more. This is LARRY KING LIVE.
Patricia Hearst will be with us tomorrow night and Tom Brokaw on Thursday. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM BAKKER: How are you all doing?
QUESTION: What reaction do you have to the sale of Heritage U.S.A?
JIM BAKKER: Well, we're still looking at that, seeing what's happening there. Needless to say, it's sad for us.
We still have hopes of returning Heritage to the lifetime partners, and that is my lifetime goal.
KING: We're back. Tammy Faye, now how old is -- in all of this is Jay's sister? Is she younger than Jay?
MESSNER: She's older than Jay by six years and...
KING: How did she handle all this?
MESSNER: Tammy Sue, of course, ran away and got married. She said: "I did what any normal teenager would do. I ran away." And when Tammy Sue ran away and she just -- she could not face it.
Larry, I would like to say one thing about Jamie. I felt that a great blessing came from losing PTL exactly when we did. And the blessing was that the fact that I did not know what size clothes my little boy took. I had no idea what his favorite food was. I had no idea about what he loved to do and what he hated to do other than the -- because I had been doing two television shows every day.
And I can -- I'll never forget the first time I had the time -- chance to go buy my little boy underwear and clothes and to be able to fix his meals for him and to be able to tuck him in bed at night and find out what his favorite color was and what things he liked to do and didn't like to do. And I was so grateful to God to actually become a mother to this wonderful little boy when he was about -- what? -- 10 years old.
KING: But you had to be also angry at yourself, weren't you, Tammy Faye, for not knowing those things that nearly every mother knows?
MESSNER: I was -- I was very angry. In fact, I talk to pastors' wives and I tell them, "You know, don't get so caught in the work of the Lord that you forget your first responsibility, which is your children."
KING: You pay a -- you pay a price for that.
MESSNER: You pay a price. Yes, you do.
KING: Yet, Lori, they seem pretty well-adjusted now, aren't they?
LORI BAKKER: Yes, they do. They're a wonderful family, and I'm honored to be a part.
KING: Jay, when everything falls apart, you write: "I had just lost everything I'd ever known. There was no one I could turn to. My sister was gone. My parents were too mired in their own nightmare to help me deal with mine." So what did you turn to? How did you pull through? You had rough teen years.
JAY BAKKER: Yeah. I basically just emerged myself into my friends, and basically drugs and alcohol -- I mean, the typical teenage thing to do -- and just tried to find acceptance amongst my peers at the time. And that's what I dove into.
MESSNER: And Jim was gone. Of course, Jim was in prison. I had -- I was a -- I became a minister at a church, which was not my calling -- calling to be a pastor. And I was trying to take care of Jamie Charles, and I had no idea what the signs of drugs were, what those signs were at all. So I didn't catch on.
JAY BAKKER: It was -- one of the difficult things was is all through that time it wasn't the church reaching out. It wasn't pastors reaching out. They were few and far between.
JAY BAKKER: But it was the kids reaching out. It was the people reaching out who were -- they were all hurting, too. Their parents were going through divorces, too. They just weren't publicized.
JAY BAKKER: And so those were the people that reached out. It wasn't the church.
KING: So (UNINTELLIGIBLE) help don't. And the -- yeah.
JAY BAKKER: Yeah. It was the punk-rock kids, you know? It was crazy.
KING: Let me get a break. We'll come right back. We've got lots more to go. We'll reintroduce the panel, too.
This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
KING: We're back. This is all dealing with the publication of "Son of a Preacher Man: My Search for Grace in the Shadows." Our guests in New York are Tammy Faye Messner and her son, the author of the book, Jay Bakker. And in Bonifay, Florida at their home, Jim Bakker, who ministers now through Camp Hope down in Florida, and Lori Graham Bakker, Jim's wife, Jay's stepmother. She's the author of "More Than I Could Ever Ask," and she also ministers through Camp Hope and Mourning to Joy.
All right, Jay, you're smoking, you're drinking. Was your father on trial now or already gone to prison?
JAY BAKKER: Well, actually, he had just left for prison. It was the night that he went to prison where this -- where the drinking and everything really started -- exactly that night when my dad left for prison.
KING: And you didn't go to see him for a long while. Why not?
JAY BAKKER: I was scared. I was scared. And mom was going. I remember mom saying, "Eventually, you're going to have to go see your father." But I couldn't grasp the idea of being with my dad and not being able to take him back with me, because my dad was, like, the ruler of the world. So I could never imagine him being stuck somewhere.
And I don't think I wanted to face reality. I wasn't ready to face reality. And when I changed my image and went and did some different things in high school, you know, mom finally made me go. I remember I said, I smoke cigarettes. Mom, you know, was like, OK. I started smoking. Mom didn't fight me on it just so I could go see my dad.
And it was a real battle to see him in prison because I had changed. He didn't recognize me right away. I looked like a different person to him. And here my father was in prison. And I think...
KING: What was that first meeting -- what was the first meeting like? What was the meeting like, Jay, when you saw him?
JAY BAKKER: It was horrible. It was...
MESSNER: Prison is a terrible place, and every meeting is terrible.
JAY BAKKER: It was the worst thing that -- one of the worst things I've ever gone through, because everything was gone -- the friends, the bodyguards, my family, and the church. And now my dad was gone. And it was devastating.
I really think the church -- God was testing the church at that time to see what they would do. And I'd have to say, during that time, they failed. Looking back on that time, we were a lonely, broken, lost family, and no one reached out to us. I'm not bitter.
MESSNER: No one would help us.
JAY BAKKER: I'm just becoming stronger and going on. And I'm going to help people and try to stop this type of thing from happening. That's one of the purposes I wrote the book.
KING: Jim, were you surprised when the church didn't come to your help or to Jay's help or to Tammy Faye's help?
JIM BAKKER: You know, I've worked through all the forgiveness of everyone, but -- so what I'm going to say is -- may sound like I'm bringing up some things that are bitter. But, you know, Larry, you have wonderful, beautiful children, and people can hurt you. But when they touch your kids, I mean, that's a different situation.
And the thing that probably broke my heart as much as anything is when Jay went back to Heritage USA. and the religious leaders that were then in charge and had taken it from us to a different situation, they had made a decree that no one was to have anything to do with a Bakker -- the Bakker, and then anybody that loved a Bakker, they called "Bakkerite."
But -- so when Jamie went back to see his friends -- his little friends, I mean, 10, 11-year-old kids were saying, "We can't play with you. We can't be seen with you." And the cruelty that we put upon innocent children is one of the sins that -- you know, God speaks of that if we offend one of the little ones, that we've offended God. And so that's part of the heartbreak to me.
And I must say, when I lost everything, one of the very first people, if not the first one, to call me was Billy Graham. I mean, Billy was there on the phone. And Oral Roberts called me on the phone. And Robert Schuler called me on the phone. But, you know, after the weeks went by, isolation really set into the family. And I know this is what Jamie feels in his heart today.
KING: Tammy Faye, were you bitter?
MESSNER: I wasn't as bitter as I was desperately, desperately hurt, and I could not understand. I could not fathom because if I have a friend, they're a friend forever, no matter what they're going through. And, you know, Larry, when I -- when this happened, I said, "God, I don't care what happens to Jim, and I don't care what happens to me. But please, God, please take care of my children." And I'm so grateful today that I have two children that we built a firm foundation under that are still serving the Lord. And I'm grateful for that today.
KING: Jay, what is your sister doing?
JAY BAKKER: My sister? She has just started a company doing construction -- helping cleaning construction places.
KING: Are you very close?
JAY BAKKER: And she's actually about to cut a new album too. So...
KING: Are you close?
JAY BAKKER: We're very close. We're probably -- besides my wife, she and my -- you know, we're probably the two closest people in the world.
MESSNER: I didn't think these kids would ever get close because they (UNINTELLIGIBLE) together when they were little.
JAY BAKKER: We fought when we were kids.
MESSNER: Oh, it was awful. Tammy Sue stuck his head in the commode and flushed it. I thought she was going to kill the kid.
JAY BAKKER: But the hell that we've been gone -- we've gone through together, we are able to relate like nobody else's business. When we go through things, if for some reason we get in a fight with mom or dad or something like that...
JAY BAKKER: ... you know, me and Tammy Sue can talk on the phone, we can talk about it, and completely understand each other. And I think that...
KING: Yes. Let me get a break. We'll be right back with more of the Bakkers. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
KING: Jay, you write of your quest to get your father out of prison. What did you do?
JAY BAKKER: Well, I called every pastor there was to try to help get my dad out of prison. I wrote letters. I worked with a church in Minnesota, and we put together packages and different things like that and sent them all over the country, even to the president, saying, "Please help by dad. Please write a letter. Please help us get his sentence reduced." And...
KING: Yes. Were you disappointed when your mother and father divorced while he was in prison?
JAY BAKKER: Yes. Yes, I was -- I was very disappointed.
KING: Did your mother explain it to your satisfaction or not?
JAY BAKKER: Not at the time, but now I understand a lot more, and I've grown up. But at the time, I was 16 years old and everything was falling apart, so that was just one more thing to fall apart. So it was -- it just felt like life was never going to stop crumbling for me.
KING: Why, Tammy Faye, did you get divorced?
MESSNER: Well, I think that's between Jim and me, Larry, but I...
KING: OK. Fair enough.
KING: No, that's -- that's not our business.
Jay, you're really into drinking and drugging. You're also trying to get your father out. Yet, you write that when he does get out, things aren't terrific.
JAY BAKKER: Well, it was expectations. Anything -- anyone who knows anything about expectations knows that they're never met.
And I had this perfect idea that dad was going to get out and the world was going to be a better place. They were going to give us the keys to Heritage USA again, and mom was going to drive down and they were going to get remarried.
You know, and none of that happened. I was an alcoholic. We were living in this little house in Charlotte. And I was out partying with my friends every weekend and my father hadn't had a chance to be my father. And all he wanted to do was keep me from killing myself drinking. And so we would argue and fight, and I wanted to go be with my friends because I felt like I had helped him get out of prison. I'd done my end of the bargain. Now I was just going to live.
But unfortunately, my father didn't want me to -- or, I guess, not unfortunately -- fortunately, my dad didn't want me to just be an alcoholic and a drug addict my whole life.
KING: And Jim, Jay says that you treated him with tough love. True?
JIM BAKKER: It was absolutely tough love, because I made arrangements -- he was living on the farm with me and I wanted him with me. And we'd bought a beautiful dog that he had. And so trying to make life good, but he wanted to go back and party with his buddies and take -- you know, and I knew what he was doing. I knew it was drugs and all.
And Tommy Barnett at Phoenix First Assembly had pioneered a group called Master's Commission, a group of young people. A lot of them were preachers' kids, and I'd heard they had done wonderful things with preachers' kids that were mixed up. And I called him on the phone and I said, you know, my son is on drugs. He has problems. Would you take him?
And I mean, Tommy Burnett and Lloyd Ziegler both said, "We'll take him. I mean, he can live in our house." And Jamie said, "I'm not going there. I don't want to go to no religious thing." And I made a deal. I said, "Well, go a week and try."
And he went to Phoenix, Arizona and he tried. And that's where he got involved with a ministry called Revolution, which was born out of that Master's Commission. And it began to change his life.
MESSNER: Yes. Change his life.
JIM BAKKER: Yes, I wanted him with me, but I wasn't -- I wasn't able to do it. I was still healing myself. I was there on a farm, a recluse, not really expecting ever to go back into society myself.
MESSNER: And I tried...
KING: And Lori, is that where you met -- Lori, is that where you met Jay?
LORI BAKKER: Yes, it is. That's where I met him and little did I know that one day I'd be a part of this family when I met him there.
KING: Were you two friends right away, you and Jay?
LORI BAKKER: Pretty close, right, Jay?
JAY BAKKER: Yes.
LORI BAKKER: I'm trying to remember exactly. I think I wrote about it in my book, too.
JAY BAKKER: Yes, we met, I think, three months after I had been there.
LORI BAKKER: Yes, and he was so -- you know, all the girls loved him -- Amanda (ph), sorry I don't want to, you know, say that to you (right now. That's Jamie's wife, but all the girls, you know, would come up to me and go -- I was part of Master's Commission, and they would come up and go, "Who's this guy? He's so cute." You know? So he was a great...
KING: You're old enough to be his mother.
Let me get a break and we'll be back with more with Jay Bakker, the author of "Son of a Preacher Man," and the Bakkers. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Stay there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM BAKKER: You all have a good day now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back. Let's talk about things more current. What, Jim, do you think of Jay having tattoos and wearing an earring? Now, 10, 15 years ago you'd have gone nuts.
JIM BAKKER: I hate that you'd asked that question because it's -- I really don't like tattoos. I'm sorry, but I'm of a different generation that, when I was a kid, tattoos was a real rebellion and drugs were really way out. And so, you know, but I love my son and I love him so much that I look beyond what I see as something I don't necessarily agree with. But I love him. But I'm not really into tattoos.
JAY BAKKER: But I do have "Dad" tattooed on my arm and "Mom.".
KING: Tammy Faye, what do you think of them?
MESSNER: Well, I think they're kind of colorful and pretty.
KING: It shows about the problems in the Bakker marriage. That's how they're...
JIM BAKKER: Sure.
KING: Now, Jay, what do you think of mom's makeup?
MESSNER: It's kind of colorful and pretty.
JAY BAKKER: Well, I actually really look up to my mom for her makeup because so many people have made fun of her, and given her such a hard time. And she's just said basically, "Screw it, I'm going to be me." And to put it bluntly, she said, "I'm going to be, and I'm not worried about the opinions of other people."
And that's allowed me to be myself. And through that, I've been able to reach a group of people and say, "Don't change. God loves you just the way you are." You don't have to change. You can have purple hair. You can have spiked bracelets. You can have whatever. You can have a three piece suit. However you are, God loves you and God accepts you and you don't have to change for him. And for some reason, we've made people believe that they have to take off their makeup, change their hair color and comb their hair before they come to church. And that's just a lie and it's a lie from hell.
KING: Jay, what do you think of your stepfather, Mr. Messner?
JAY BAKKER: I love Roe to death.
MESSNER: Me, too.
KING: And, of course, you obviously love your -- how do you explain, Lori, how well you and Tammy Faye get along?
LORI BAKKER: Well, it's pretty amazing, you know, sitting here and talking with you all and, I mean, we can't see...
MESSNER: Hi, Lori.
LORI BAKKER: Hi, Tammy. We heard you called last night. Sorry we missed your call.
MESSNER: That's OK.
LORI BAKKER: But, you know, it's really an awesome thing that -- only God could really do this where we could all talk amongst each other and be friends. My mom and my stepmom are friends, and I guess I had a good example in that, too.
MESSNER: Well, I think Jim needed a lady like Lori. I really do. I feel like she's strong for him. She's been through some of the things that he had been through. She has been hurt. She's gone through so many things. And I think she can be strong for him, and I think that's wonderful.
LORI BAKKER: Thank you.
KING: As you -- I want to get your thoughts, Jim. What do you think -- anything about Jay's book you don't like?
JAY BAKKER: Don't answer it, daddy.
MESSNER: Oh, Jim.
JIM BAKKER: Well, you know, it's not -- the awesome thing about it is, you know, it's not the kind of book you say, "Wow, this is a fabulous book," because it's a rough, tough story. He tells it like it is, stuff that you don't want to talk about.
But the awesome thing about this book is what Jamie's done to our whole family and to me. When I was dying on that farm I -- when I got out of prison, I wasn't going off the farm anymore. But he called me on the phone as he learned about a grace, amazing grace, we call it. But he really has taught us all about grace.
And that's what this book is about. And that's why I love my son, tattoos, whatever, earrings, whatever he does. And I -- I mean, we're right here at Camp Hope right now, and this is where -- we're at the lodge. And we have kids coming that are all coming off crack cocaine and still on crack cocaine, kids with tattoos. And what Jamie's taught me, and I always knew this, but he's brought me to another level of grace. And that's what this book is about. It's about, hey, there's hope for all of us.
KING: Tammy Faye, did you learn about your son from reading this?
MESSNER: Oh, I learned way more than I wanted to know about my son.
JAY BAKKER: She started to cry.
MESSNER: I literally sobbed my, forgive the word, my guts out because I didn't realize what had been -- how his heart had hurt so desperately. He just -- you can see the outside of a kid, but you can never look inside. And I just hate that what we did made him suffer so badly.
KING: We'll take a break and come back with our remaining moments. The book is, "Son of a Preacher Man". This is LARRY KING LIVE.
Tomorrow night, Patricia Hearst, her first exclusive interview since her pardon. And Tom Brokaw will join us on Thursday, and Martha Stewart on Friday night. And don't forget "LARRY KING WEEKEND" now airs Saturday and Sunday night to highlight shows, which we know you'll find interesting.
We'll be right back with our remaining moments with the Bakkers after this.
KING: By the way, February 6th is Ronald Reagan's 90th birthday. We have a very special show with an exclusive interview with Nancy Reagan. That's February 6th. Make a note of it, Ronald Reagan's 90th birthday.
Jim, did you expect a pardon?
JIM BAKKER: I didn't ask for one. You have to apply for a pardon. So, I didn't ask for one. Ronald Reagan's show coming up with you, I spent many, many hours with that man. And, oh, my heart just aches because I'd just love to see him walk out one more time.
KING: Yes. Why haven't you asked for a pardon? JIM BAKKER: Well, I don't live in the past anymore. Like doing a show like this is very difficult for me because it's dredging up the past and I'm trying to look for the future, and I don't even think about a pardon. I'm happy being where I am. I really don't need that to have vindication. The people I deal with, street people and inner city kids, they don't know who I am anyway. So, all they know is about love.
MESSNER: And everybody thinks I'm Mimi's mom.
KING: Now, what are you -- Jay, your life now consists of what?
JAY BAKKER: Bible studies on Tuesday nights, prayer meetings on Friday nights and working just with kids on their own terms, meeting them where they're at and that kind of thing.
KING: How do you earn a living?
JAY BAKKER: That's how I earn my living, as a minister, ministering to disenfranchised youth in a way. Kids who -- to a subculture and saying God loves them. Safe House Outreach hired me on, and I've been allowed to do my ministry underneath Safe House. So, I've been able to do this and get paid to do it, which is incredible.
KING: Tammy Faye, what's the latest with Ms. Messner?
MESSNER: Well, they're getting ready -- they're right now preparing to do a cartoon around me in which I make fun of myself. What people don't get is when they make fun of me, I'm in on it. So, it's OK. But we're working with that right now. And also the possibility of another "Tammy Faye's House Party" type show. So, that's fun.
KING: And Lori, you work with your husband, right? You have your ministry of Camp Hope and Mourning To Joy as well. That's your own.
LORI BAKKER: Yes, yes, I do. And it's very exciting. We're having a wonderful time. And like Jim was saying, just giving people a second chance in life, or a third or fourth or fifth or sixth chance in life, and just seeing people's lives restored because that's what God's done for me; it's what God's done for Jim, for Jay, for Tammy Faye, for all of us. I mean, it's awesome.
JIM BAKKER: And, you know...
KING: Jim, do you miss television?
JIM BAKKER: I'm actually making plans to go back on television. I haven't announced it. It's not too many weeks away. We may be making our debut. A very different type of format for me than I've done in the past.
KING: Jay, are you -- did you know about this? And if so, are you excited? JAY BAKKER: Yes, I'm excited about it. I've known about it for a little while now.
MESSNER: And I didn't know about it, but I say go, Jim, go. I'd like to see Jim get back where he needs to be again and be able to kick some of the people in the butt. Pardon me.
JIM BAKKER: My goal is to have people like my son, and give the new generation a chance to be on television. I would really like to produce programs for the young people.
JAY BAKKER: And I think it's vital that people start seeing ministers restored back to where they were because you never see a fallen pastor or a fallen minister restored. And if we don't see that, we're not seeing Jesus. So, we need to get back to Jesus.
KING: You've all been wonderful. Jay Bakker, the book is, "Son of a Preacher Man: My Search for Grace in the Shadows"; his mother, Tammy Faye Messner; his father, Jim Bakker; and his stepmother Lori Graham Bakker. We hope you enjoyed all of this.
Tomorrow night, Patricia Hearst. Her first exclusive interview since her pardon. And Thursday, Tom Brokaw. Friday, Martha Stewart. And don't forget to log onto my Web site and send us e-mail: cnn.com/larryking. "CNN TONIGHT" is next with my man, Bill Hemmer. Thanks for joining us. For all of our guests, good night.
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