FORT MILL, S.C. -- The Rev. Jerry Falwell told "PTL Show" viewers yesterday the scandal-plagued ministry will "cease to function" unless the faithful mail in $1.75 million by Friday.
"We've been under attack," said Falwell. "We've stopped using the telephones for anything but prayer and counseling souls. We've had so many harassing calls . . . obscene and vulgar calls from the same, I'm told, 40 or 50 people. They called back 1,800 times in one day."
Instead of a phone number, the "PTL Show" gave out an address to which contributors can mail their checks.
Falwell, who took over after founder Jim Bakker resigned in March over a sex scandal, said the checks must be in the mail by Friday if the ministry and its television program are to continue.
"This is the week," said Falwell. "There will not be another week unless God provides this week. We just cease to function as we now exist."
Falwell said the bankrupt ministry needs the money to meet payroll costs, to purchase air time and to meet regular operating costs. He asked viewers to join a "Resurrection Committee" by making a $1,000 gift.
"We need the money," said Falwell. "We've got to make payroll. We can't lose this wonderful staff. You say you can't send $1,000? Could you send $500, perhaps $100? We've got to have a miracle this week."
In the past two weeks, 300 viewers have sent Falwell $1,000 apiece, partly in response to a promise that if he got 1,000 viewers to do so he would take a plunge down the PTL amusement park water slide.
PTL, which stands for Praise the Lord or People That Love, filed for protection from its creditors June 12 under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy code. The ministry at that point was $72 million in debt.