GATLINBURG, Tenn., July 2 -- Former PTL leader Jim Bakker, defending his lavish life style as a commandment from Christ, said today he has given away a lot of money and his wife Tammy Faye said she has given away a lot of clothing.
The Bakkers also asked the bankruptcy court considering the plight of the PTL to consider them creditors of the troubled ministry.
The Rev. Jerry Falwell, to whom Bakker surrendered the ministry when he resigned in a sex scandal in March, has accused the Bakkers of taking more than $1.5 million from PTL in salaries and bonuses in the months before they departed.
But the Bakkers, appearing on ABC's "Good Morning America" in an interview taped in their Gatlinburg chalet, said that wasn't true.
Bakker said he only made about $500,000 last year before charities and "we gave away lots of money."
"I can say this before God, we have never put money first," Tammy Faye Bakker said. She acknowledged buying clothes as therapy, but "I wear them and give them away. I have clothed many, many ladies."
Bakker said their high living was mandated by their religion -- otherwise "what do we do with the scripture that says Christ wanted us to prosper?"
The Bakkers said they welcomed a federal grand jury investigation of tax and mail fraud while they were running the PTL television ministry.
"I think an investigation is the best thing that could happen to us, unless Jerry Falwell and the group has altered the records," he said.
"Oh, we've paid millions of dollars in income tax," scoffed Tammy Faye Bakker. "I don't know how they can say 'income tax evasion.' "