TEGA CAY,S.C. -- The Rev. Jerry Falwell declared yesterday that Jim and Tammy Bakker are making nightly "blood covenants" in which their followers swear undying loyalty to a new ministry they are planning.
Falwell, appearing on Cable News Network yesterday, said the Bakkers' longtime security guard, Don Hardister, had resigned because of the strange "prayer meetings" and the feeling that he was, "after 11 years of being close to them, not being listened to and they were doing things of which he did not approve."
The Bakkers, for months secluded in their Palm Springs, Calif., mansion, returned last week to the PTL-built lakeside house at Tega Cay, and have vowed to fight efforts by new officials of the PTL ministry they founded to sell the home to help pay off creditors.
Falwell said Hardister told him "meetings were going on at the home nightly, alleged prayer meetings at which covenants were taken."
"They were called sort of blood covenants. I don't think there was any blood shed, but observing communion and pledging to-the-death loyalty to the Bakkers to start a new ministry," Falwell said.
Falwell said Hardister thought "they should vacate the property and that they should graciously move on to another life. Apparently he feels that they were going in just the opposite direction into a confrontational mode that can only do injury to the cause of Christ."
Hardister's resignation came on the heels of Wednesday's appearance before reporters by Tammy Faye Bakker, who charged that she and her husband, who had received millions of dollars in salaries and bonuses before they left the ministry, were broke ("Jim and I only have $37,000 left").
"Like Mrs. Bakker, I don't know where the money has gone," said Falwell. "I am sorry they are out of money and I also feel it isn't the end of the world to go to work and earn money and buy a home."
Robert Dugan Jr. of the National Association of Evangelicals said: "That's totally incredible to me. Where did the rest of the money go? I wouldn't be surprised if skeptics wondered if more hush money had been paid to Jessica Hahn (the church secretary with whom Bakker had a sexual fling seven years ago) or put in Swiss bank accounts."
"They want to play the role of martyrs," Dugan, appearing on CNN, said. "This episode is an embarrassment to the cause of Christ."
Meanwhile, the Rev. Billy Graham, who has steadfastly refused to comment on the "holy wars," had indirect criticism of the scandals yesterday. He told the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis that evangelists are losing credence because the "world looks at us and they see the same way of living, the same motives, the same petty jealousies that characterize the world, or they see where leaders have yielded to the temptations of money, lust or power, and they see little reason to believe our message can really change their lives."
At the end of yesterday's regular televised "PTL Show" host Doug Oldham begged the forgiveness of other ministries and, for the first time in weeks, mentioned the names of the founders.
As the names of other evangelists scrolled down the screen, Oldham said in a cracked voice that "I won't be able to touch on all the ministries, but there are some we've hurt probably a little more than others.
"Lord, today we ask that you forgive us for the damage we did to Jimmy Swaggart. To restore unto him one-hundredfold," Oldham prayed. Bakker initially accused Swaggart of trying to take over PTL, then said Falwell had only used Swaggart as a smoke screen to trick him out of his ministry.
"We ask, Lord, for Pat Robertson -- he'd make a good president but that chance has probably been snatched from him." Robertson reported recently that his television ministry had to lay off 200 employes in anticipation of a $28 million loss in contributions this year, which he blamed on the "holy wars."
"We ask, Lord," Oldham continued, "for Dr. Robert Schuller, who's been a friend to the ministry and because of his association has suffered. Lord, we pray somehow that You'll make it up to him."