It was a teary night on "The 700 Club" and two of Pat Robertson's stars were leaving after a stormy tenure at his Christian Broadcasting Network.

Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker stood before Robertson, weeping. Tammy had just belted out her last song; Jim had read a passage from Corinthians. Robertson stepped forward to present an elegant silver tea service, Jim Bakker remembers.

"For your seven years of faithful service to the Christian Broadcasting Network," said Robertson.

That emotional farewell capped a close but tumultuous relationship between the two televangelists -- a bond that strained, and ultimately tore apart, but only after Robertson had tapped Bakker's extraordinary fund-raising talents to put CBN on the map and catapult him into the evangelical big leagues.

Today, 16 years later, Robertson is a Republican presidential candidate and is not eager to dwell on his evangelical past. His long association with the scandalized Bakkers has remained an unexplored piece of his history.

But this week, Robertson backers at the National Religious Broadcasters convention here began passing out a new campaign biography that unveils allegations of wrongdoing by Jim and Tammy Bakker during their years with Robertson.

"Pat Robertson: The Authorized Biography" omits references to Robertson's affection for Bakker and to Bakker's fond memories of their friendship (former CBN staffers say he viewed Robertson as a surrogate father). It claims for the first time that CBN uncovered financial improprieties by the Bakkers 17 years ago. The Bakkers hotly deny the charges.

The book quotes one former CBN executive who says he prepared an internal report for Robertson that documented abuses and high living by the Bakkers. The report (a copy of which apparently no longer exists) triggered major conflicts within CBN and led to reprimands for the Bakkers just before they left the network in 1972, the book says.

Author John Donovan, who was granted more than 45 hours of interviews with Robertson and his associates, says he hopes the book will aid Robertson's presidential bid. He adds that one way to do that is to set the record straight about the Robertson-Bakker relationship.

"One of its points," says Donovan, "is to illustrate the dramatic contrast between someone like Bakker on the one hand and someone like Robertson on the other, despite superficial similarities in their ministries."

The new campaign biography contrasts sharply with Robertson's 1972 autobiography. In "Shout It From the Housetops," Robertson lavished praise on Jim Bakker, heralding his spiritual prowess and on-the-air faith healing, telling how Bakker cured the deaf and healed the afflicted during CBN telethons. There was no mention of financial abuses by the Bakkers.

"I loved Jim like a brother," Robertson wrote in the book.

The new biography appears to fit Robertson's overall strategy for dealing with sensitive subjects in his past, some former associates say. It treads lightly over such controversial religious incidents as Robertson's alleged diversion of Hurricane Gloria in 1985. "There's a lot of things that I didn't get into," Donovan said in an interview this week. He said he wanted to emphasize other aspects of Robertson's career.

Several former staffers, who worked with both evangelists, say Robertson has made a concerted effort to paper over his role as Bakker's mentor and diminish the critical contribution Bakker made to the rise of CBN.

"I'd like Pat to be a little more open and honest about Jim's role in the early days," says Bob Whyley, a former "700 Club" cohost who went on to work for Bakker at the PTL television ministry, which the Bakkers founded. "{Bakker} had a wonderful following and calling while he was there. But Pat wants to distance himself from his affiliation with Jim because it could hurt his presidential campaign."

At a press conference at the National Religious Broadcasters convention this week, the candidate grew testy when asked to characterize his relationship with the Bakkers. "I'm not going to answer that," Robertson snapped, complaining that Bob Dole isn't asked to describe his relationships with "colleagues" such as Gary Hart and Ted Kennedy.

Robertson was also asked if he would appoint an attorney general who would vigorously prosecute the Bakkers if the Justice Department investigation into their tenure at PTL uncovers evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

"I don't intend to appoint an attorney general who will carry on a vendetta against evangelical Christian organizations. I guarantee I won't do that," Robertson said. But, he added, "I assure you that under my administration such people {the Bakkers} would be brought to justice. There's fraud and other things -- there's laws on the books to take care of them."

Robertson backers say the candidate is not covering up his past with Bakker, but just wants to play down his perception as a preacher to broaden his base.

"Pat is . . . not just trying to get away from Bakker," says Neil Eskelin, another friendly Robertson biographer who later worked as Bakker's press secretary. "It's all part of his stepping back from TV evangelism and concentrating on areas of his life that are not looked at very much.

"He's running as a business leader, as an economist, as a lawyer, as a college president, not as a TV evangelist. It's a wise decision."

But Robertson's cold shoulder has pained his former friends.

"Pat can remember us any way he wants," said Tammy Bakker earlier this week. "He's just getting on the bandwagon."

In an emotional telephone interview, she described Robertson as a fair-weather friend who never gave her husband the credit he deserved for helping build CBN. "Almost every penny that was raised for CBN was raised by Jim," she said. "Pat would let Jim do the telethons by himself and show up once in a while."

"My record at CBN will have to speak for itself," said Jim Bakker yesterday in a separate interview. "If the people who worked alongside me don't know of my dedication to CBN and Pat Robertson and the hours I worked there, then I'll forget it. I don't need to defend myself and I'm not going to. {The criticism} has affected Tammy more than me. She feels sad over it."

Bakker recalled that Robertson had even visited him at PTL's Heritage Grand Hotel in Fort Mill, S.C., when he was considering his presidential bid. "We had a good meeting," he said.

Then came the revelations last March about Bakker's tryst with Jessica Hahn, and later allegations that the Bakkers and their aides had taken millions in ministry funds for their personal use.

Once the scandal broke, "he never mentioned our name again," said Tammy Bakker. "It was like Jim had died almost."

It was 1965 when Jim and Tammy Bakker, traveling tent preachers, joined Robertson at CBN to host a children's puppet show. Bakker would later host the "700 Club" three days a week, pioneering the Johnny Carson-style format on religious television and engaging in histrionic fund-raising appeals.

"Pat Robertson had made a profound impression on my life during the seven years we worked together," wrote Bakker in his autobiography, "Move That Mountain." "We came from very different backgrounds, but God molded us into a good team at CBN. I would be forever grateful for what Pat had done for Tammy and me."

Bakker first made his mark late that year during a Sunday night telethon that went down in CBN history. Things looked bleak. By 11 p.m., shortly before the show was to go off the air, Robertson was still $40,000 short of his annual fund-raising goal. Then Bakker jumped to his feet and electrified the airwaves. CBN was "on the verge of bankruptcy," he implored, and would have to go off the air if more money didn't come in.

Robertson recounted the story in "Shout It From the Housetops":

"His {Bakker's} voice broke and he began to cry. The cameraman in the studio held steady. His camera focused on Jim's face as the tears rolled down and splattered on the concrete floor."

Another CBN official sitting with Robertson inside the darkened control room grabbed his arm, suggesting it was time to yank Bakker off the air.

" 'No,' I whispered," Robertson wrote. " 'Hold steady. God is about to do something great.'

"And he was. Immediately, the phones in the studio started ringing until all ten lines were jammed . . . All over Tidewater, people were calling in saying they had been waked out of deep sleep and told to turn on their TV sets.

"They were calling in, laughing, crying, rejoicing, and praising God over the phone. By 2:30 a.m., we had raised $105,000 . . . We had no further plans but to go home and praise God."

But despite his brilliant fund raising, Bakker butted heads with his boss over the show's direction. Bakker wanted to whip up a holy frenzy to save souls; Robertson was more low key, intellectual. Former ministry employees say the Bakkers' extravagance was also a sore point: Tammy wore mink; the couple drove Cadillacs when colleagues could only afford clunkers.

Former staffers recall Jim and Tammy as prima donnas -- temperamental stars Robertson relied on. "Bakker saw it as a father-son relationship," says a staffer who worked alongside both men. Bakker confirmed that yesterday, adding, "He was a very powerful man and a leader."

Once, Robertson delivered an ultimatum, Bakker wrote in his book: pay a $100 fine for refusing to host a radio show on a Saturday night or resign. So Bakker quit, then changed his mind after Robertson implored him to stay. Here's how Bakker recalled it in his autobiography:

"Inwardly," wrote Bakker, "I breathed a sigh of relief . . . Pulling two fifty-dollar bills from his pocket, Pat said, 'I'll pay your fine, Jim . . .' After that, I felt much closer to Pat."

In his book, Robertson said he was so upset over Bakker's no-show that he aimed to dismiss him -- until the Lord intervened. "I started out the studio when I heard the voice of God: 'Don't fire Jim Bakker.' "

Robertson said he then called another CBN official to ask for advice. " 'God is dealing with me to keep Jim. What do I do?' " Robertson wrote. " 'You do what God tells you to do . . . if God said so, then you better find some way to bring him back into the fold.' "

Robertson did, and he and Bakker rapidly gained a wider audience. As the two televangelists pitched to save souls, viewers phoned in to report faith healings.

"One night it might be cataracts," wrote Bakker. "The next night it would be deafness . . . Healings for blindness, arthritis, lameness were constantly being reported."

After one successful telethon, Robertson wrote in his 1972 autobiography, he, Bakker and other CBN stars gathered in the prayer room, held hands in unity and "asked God to pour out his power upon us. We left and went into the new studio, which was almost completed.

"Immediately we realized God had given us victory as we prayed. That night and onto the next day we counted twenty-five people who were instantly healed of deafness. Jim Bakker prayed for a little boy who had crossed eyes, and his eyes were straightened instantly."

But according to Donovan's biography, a rift began around 1971 when a new CBN production manager, Jerry Horstman, was asked by Robertson to analyze the network's spending. What he found, Horstman recalled in an interview this week, was that a disproportionate amount of the ministry's annual revenue -- about $188,000 out of $900,000 -- was being spent on the Bakkers and their puppet show, more than any other CBN activity, including Robertson's own "700 Club."

The report also documented that the Bakkers were charging CBN for thousands of dollars in personal expenses, including Tammy's hairdressing bills, clothing costs and a full-time secretary who also served as a baby sitter for their daughter Tammy Sue, said Horstman.

"Their whole life style there was inconsistent with everybody else's . . . with the struggling nature of the ministry," said Horstman.

Then Horstman discovered Bakker was arranging to have CBN pay for installing a water heater at his house. He confronted the Bakkers and demanded that the "abuses" stop, he said. He also warned them they would have to start working 40-hour weeks or lose their studio sets. The meeting was tense, and although Tammy took it well, "Jim was really hacked off," recalled Horstman.

As Horstman tells it, Bakker complained to Robertson, but Robertson refused to bend. "Pat told him, 'Jerry's in charge of production and we're running in the red,' " Horstman is quoted as saying in Donovan's book.

Tammy Bakker was indignant that such charges would be raised now. "We worked a 24-hour day, every day," she said. "My husband almost died building CBN . . . I don't know if you call getting on your knees scrubbing floors the lap of luxury, but that's what we did when we weren't on the air at CBN."

Horstman was becoming "steadily more nauseated by the whole Bakker ministry and felt that it was all an act," writes Donovan, quoting Horstman: " 'He'd be on the air crying, begging for money and telling the viewers that the whole staff was sacrificing to work there, and yet he and his wife weren't suffering one bit . . . Tammy would sing sometimes and she would cry on exactly the same line every week.' "

In the end, the ministry was wracked by "open warfare," according to Horstman, who said Bakker's angry loyalists ushered him into the CBN prayer room and attempted to exorcise the Devil from him. But the producer had Robertson's backing. Bakker soon resigned as gleeful staffers took axes to chop up the "Jim and Tammy" set.

Bakker "later told me I had made things so unbearable for him that he had to quit," Horstman said in an interview.

Why, after keeping silent for so long, has Horstman, who runs a media production company in Atlanta, now decided to speak out about the Bakkers' alleged abuses at CBN?

"Pat is doing his best to show that he is not of the same cloth as Jim Bakker," said Horstman, who, like Donovan, backs Robertson's candidacy. "I was contacted by some people who told me he {Donovan} was trying to tell the true story, to show that Pat indeed was not of the same cut."

But some evangelical leaders wonder if the revelations won't create new problems for Robertson. If Robertson knew about the Bakkers' propensity to misuse church funds, "you have to ask yourself why he didn't say anything to anybody when Bakker was out raising hundreds of millions of dollars at PTL," says one evangelical power broker.

"I don't think it's a deadly liability, but it could be a nuisance to him," says Mark DeMoss, spokesman for the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who uncovered many of Bakker's excesses when he ran PTL for six months last year. "It depends on what he knew."

Just before he left CBN in 1972, Bakker wrote, he "tried to tell Pat how much I appreciated his friendship, but somehow I couldn't seem to find the right words."

Soon Bakker began to put his own network on the map in Charlotte, N.C. He took over cable Channel 36, preempting it as a CBN affiliate and taking in revenues that once went to Robertson, sources say. Bakker saw whipping Robertson as a major goal, sources say, and cheered a sales staff in the field to outbid CBN for some affiliates in a religious TV market unaccustomed to such warfare.

"There was competition and a lot of rejoicing when a certain market was {acquired}," recalls Eskelin, now a PTL vice president, who once recruited stations for Bakker's network. "Jim was the little kid on the block against CBN. He was competing in a big arena."

"It was vicious," says one former high-ranking CBN official. "Bakker bumped CBN off the air in some places by offering more money. It set a bad precedent for Christian broadcasting." Robertson, says the staffer, kept his cool, maintaining an air of forgiveness, but his wife baptized Bakker's network " 'the house of the enemy.' "

Bakker lured some CBN staffers away with higher salaries. After Robertson built his university in Virginia, Bakker vainly tried to launch one in Charlotte. CBN was built with Williamsburg architecture; Bakker built his first expansion in the same style. Robertson broke new ground for a religious broadcaster by distributing CBN via satellite; Bakker bought satellite time for his fledgling network.

"Every step Pat took, Jim tried, too," says the former CBN official. "I said, 'Pat, if we build a big Christian disco, I guarantee Jim will build one in Charlotte.' "

Now, ironically, CBN may be in a position to achieve the ultimate revenge by capturing Bakker's former network.

In fact, two former PTL officials say they were approached last spring by Robertson's son Tim with a proposal to merge parts of the rival networks. Tim Robertson now runs CBN while his father is off on the campaign trail.

CBN currently employs 1,000 people and reaches 30 million homes with religious and family-oriented programming. PTL's Inspirational Network viewership is down from a high of 13 million to about 11 million homes, say officials.

"CBN wanted PTL and they were going to align themselves with Pat Boone to buy it out from under us," says Harry Hargrave, a Dallas real estate developer who served as PTL president during the Falwell regime. Boone, once heralded as a possible successor to Bakker as host of the "PTL Club," was on tour in Japan and could not be reached, but his manager, Tim Swift, confirmed that such discussions had included Boone, Robertson's son and a major Wall Street firm.

"There was an approach made," says the former CBN official, who says he attended meetings where a takeover was discussed. The merger talks went nowhere, however.

Asked for comment, a spokesman for Tim Robertson called the reported approach a "nonstory."

Whatever discussions took place last spring, PTL officials say merger talks are now out of the question because the ministry is under a court-approved bankruptcy plan. "It wouldn't make any sense," says David Clark, who last fall was appointed the PTL trustee.

Nevertheless, a number of former CBN executives are now in place at the beleaguered PTL ministry in Fort Mill.

Clark, a former CBN marketing vice president, took the reins at Heritage Village USA in December. He subsequently hired Norm Mintle, a former top fund-raising executive for CBN. Wayne McClellan, Robertson's former head of personnel, took up a similar post at PTL. A "700 Club" senior producer came to help oversee the PTL television operation.

Clark has confirmed reports that overtures had been made to recruit Ben Kinchlow, a popular "700 Club" host who resigned last week, to take over Bakker's chair. Kinchlow, when he left, said he was seeking divine guidance about his future.

Visitors at the Heritage USA gift shop note that where the Bakkers' books sit dogeared and dwindling on shelves -- clerks say there are no plans to restock -- a new novelty has sprouted across the aisles: "Pat Robertson for President" T-shirts and bumper stickers.

And that does not necessarily trouble the man who created PTL. On the "PTL Club," Bakker recalled yesterday, he had supported Robertson's right to seek high office, even if he didn't endorse him.

"The shocking thing was when people said he couldn't run for president because of who he was. But I defend anyone's right to pursue their goals and dreams in America."

Researcher Susan Kelleher in Denver contributed to this report.