Tammy Faye Messner, the onetime first lady of TV evangelism, died Friday at the age of 65; she had battled cancer for years. Terry Gross interviewed the former Tammy Faye Bakker on January 15, 2004, about the rise and fall of the ministry she led with ex-husband Jim Bakker, the puppet show that gave them their start, and her surprising later life as a gay icon.
Along with her ex-husband, Jim Bakker, she built the Praise the Lord televangelist network. She gained a reputation for crying often on television and smearing her abundant mascara. Their empire crumbled when Jim Bakker was convicted of bilking followers out of millions of dollars. She survived the scandal, the divorce, as well as cancer and drug addiction and wrote about it in her memoir I Will Survive: And You Will, Too! She is also starring in the new reality show on the WB network, Surreal Life 2.
Jay Bakker is the son of televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. In 1989 his father, Jimmy, was convicted of defrauding his followers at the Praise The Lord ministry, and sent to prison. Then his parents divorced. Bakker was 13 years old at the time. In his new memoir, Son of a Preacher Man: My Search for Grace in the Shadows, (Harper), he writes of returning to faith after a long period of alcoholism and disillusionment. Jay Bakker now heads his own ministry, Revolution, in Atlanta, ministering to skateboarders, punk rockers, and hippies, and other neglected kids.
Political cartoonist Doug Marlette draws inspiration from a lifetime in the South, including its fervent religious culture -- which he satirizes in his new book, There's No Business Like Soul Business.