Thanks to Jimmy and Tammy Bakker and their traveling sideshow of problems and tears, America's tub-thumping evangelists haven't had so much negative attention since Sinclair Lewis wrote "Elmer Gantry." Tulsa evangelist Oral Roberts, who has raised millions over the airwaves and who recently raised enough money to keep from being "called home," is preaching forgiveness for Bakker. Speaking before the Charismatic Bible Ministries conference in Tulsa, Roberts said Bakker never did anything as bad as King David did and God restored him to the throne. Then, getting to the heart of the matter, he proclaimed, "Do not let something like this turn off your giving."

But in Knoxville, Harry Brooks, president of the 250,000-member American Baptist Association, is advising that the giving be turned off. He charges the television evangelists "have been stealing people blind," adding, "I hope those who have been supporting these television ministries will have the moral fiber to start supporting their own churches instead of these shysters." Brooks also says he has lost confidence in Jerry Falwell since he took over as head of PTL.

Out and About

In the Washington whirl of media movements, Michael Gessel has been named the editor of The Baum Bugle. The Baum Bugle? Gessel, who is press secretary to Rep. Tony Hall, is not resigning his present job to edit The Baum Bugle, which is named for L. Frank Baum, who in the early years of the century wrote "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" and 13 other Oz books. Gessel, who pointed out yesterday that there are 40 Oz books as well as movies, stage versions and even a cartoon strip, said the 30-year-old magazine has a wealth of material for the three issues published annually about Baum and the Land of Oz. Gessel was named to the coveted post last weekend at the annual International Wizard of Oz Club convention in Zion, Ill. It does seem like a good idea that a publication specializing on the land of Oz be headquartered in Washington and be under the control of an editor who has spent several years working on Capitol Hill ...

Before it's all over, the Joan Collins-Peter Holm breakup will get uglier. The "Dynasty" star's former business agent/lover/husband arrived in London yesterday "to haunt" Collins. She is trying to have their marriage annulled and he is there complaining that she made off with his BMW. In the world of a Joan Collins romance, fight over possession of an automobile can be a bitter thing. Holm says he is "not confrontational ... I'm really a nice guy," but adds the car is "legally mine and it's been ordered by the court to be returned to me but it's not come back." His advice for Collins' new boyfriend Bill Wiggins is: "I would say, 'Be careful she doesn't throw you out at midnight' " ...

Brat pack actor Sean Penn's two-month jail sentence doesn't make him unique in the acting community. A number of other actors have served time, among the most recent being "Mike Hammer" Stacy Keach, who served six months in England's Reading Prison in 1985 for smuggling 1.3 ounces of cocaine into Heathrow Airport. In 1948, Robert Mitchum served 50 days in Los Angeles County Jail and on an honor farm after being arrested for conspiracy to possess marijuana after police broke up what was termed "a marijuana cigarette smoking party." Newspapers all across the country ran photographs of Mitchum in prison denims, mopping the floor. And Steve McQueen spent quite a bit of time in jail during his youth. Who can forget when Italian beauty Sophia Loren did 17 days behind bars in Naples for avoiding taxes? And Penn joins that seemingly endless listing of country-western stars who all but make a career of boasting about days in the slammer. Come to think of it, Penn may have a country-western career in the making ...

The proprietor of the Igas Island store up in Camden, Maine (population 4,000 in the winter and 5,000 in summer), has come up with a good idea for selling the various duffel bags he makes. In the local Camden Herald newspaper is an ad with the photo of a bag that reads: "If Fawn had a bag from Igas Island, she could've carried a lot more documents"...