PTL, which syndicates the television program "PTL Club" and conducts related ministries, is "halting all expansion plans until our bills are paid," according to its public relations director, Robert Manzano. Unpaid bills are said to total about $2 million.
The Rev. Jim Bakker, host of the show, said in a recent telecast that plans for a complex costing $50 million to $100 million and including a university, a retirement center and other facilities would be delayed because PTL is 30 to 60 days behind in payments on other bills.
Manzano said the projected facilities were "put on the ice because PTL is now in a belt-tightening program," which also has resulted in a temporary restraint on hiring and a cancellation of ministry trips to other countries. He also mentioned increased expenditures and a slight "summer slump in giving" as factors in the decision.
PTL, which stands for "Praise the Lord," is challenging the constitutionality of a new North Carolina law that would force detailed financial disclosure if the organization wished to solicit funds for the complex. Pending a court hearing set for mid-September, the law is not being enforced.
The organization recently announced purchase of an Ohio television station, its first. A general public announcement about its financial situation said PTL takes in about $1.5 million monthly in donations and quickly spends that money on its ongoing ministries.
The North Carolina Department of Human Resources notified PTL recently that PTL must make a financial statement and obtain a license to continue soliciting funds for projects that are not strictly religious.
PTL is contesting the new law as unconstitutional on grounds that it violates the First Amendment. PTL obtained a court order temporarily restraining the state from enforcing the ruling.