Bakkers Burned in ’73 TV Deal With Crouch, New Book Says

Times Staff Writer

In 1973, two young ministers thought they had hit on just the right formula to change the world of religious broadcasting: a network that would feature innovative, upbeat Christian programming, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

But after only 6 months it became clear to Paul F. Crouch and Jim Bakker that the Orange County television station they chose as their laboratory--and the flagship for Trinity Broadcasting Network--was just too small for the ambitions of the two strong-willed men and their wives.

Apart from who won, the precise details of the struggle that followed are still in dispute, except that the tactics used by both sides might be considered of the hard-knuckled variety more common to the corporate world than to the Christian.


For the Bakkers, who lost, the maneuvering for the station left a permanent fear of sharing power with anyone. According to a new book, “Don’t Call Me Brother,” by former evangelist Austin Miles, they felt “betrayed” by the struggle with the Crouches.

“Jim and Tammy were sensitive to the point of being fragile,” Miles writes. “They had built the Trinity Broadcasting Network up from nothing. Then their employers, Paul and Jan Crouch, dumped them. That betrayal hurt Jim and Tammy deeply. . . . “

“We put our very souls into (the station). Then it was literally stolen out from under us,” Jim Bakker is quoted as saying. “I’m going to do things differently this time. Nobody will ever take a television ministry away from us again.”

“When we lost that station in California, that really did it. We thought the world had ended,” Tammy Bakker told Miles.

For Crouch, the outcome reinforced the belief that his victory was evidence of a Divine plan. He later wrote in a brochure that after some “confusion and dissension . . . it was apparent that God was leading Jim and Tammy into another ministry.”