FIRST OFF . . .
After a two-year absence from the nation’s airwaves, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker returned to television Monday with a show broadcast from the living room of their North Carolina home to a handful of stations around the country, including KVEA-TV Channel 52 in Los Angeles. Tammy’s trademark heavy eye makeup began running two minutes into the hourlong program when she burst into tears of happiness. The Bakkers’ supporters crowded into the borrowed house where the couple live and produce their show. It airs on KVEA from 6 to 7 a.m. Monday through Friday, according to a spokesman for the Bakkers. Bakker, who turned 49 on Monday, said the program was being carried by television stations in Philadelphia, and Akron and Canton, Ohio, among others. He thanked supporters who had donated money to put him back on the air, and said his viewers should have faith if they were living through a crisis. “If Jim and Tammy can survive their holocaust of the last two years, then you can make it,” Bakker said. Bakker, the founder of PTL, left his television ministry in March, 1987, in the midst of a sex-and-money scandal that has resulted in Bakker’s indictment on fraud and conspiracy charges and the bankruptcy sale of his Heritage USA empire. On Monday, Bakker reminded his viewers that the last broadcast he and his wife delivered via the Heritage USA production facilities two years ago was when he announced plans to break ground for a new Crystal Palace Church at the Heritage USA theme park. “I believe that was the last straw for Satan,” Bakker told his audience. “I think the devil was mad that something so beautiful was being built. . . . I believe the devil said, ‘I have to smash Jim and Tammy Bakker.’ ”