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Tammy Faye says goodbye
May 10, 2007 3:09 PM   Subscribe

Tammy Faye Messner Bids Her Fans Goodbye. Down to 65 pounds and unable to continue treatment for cancer, Tammy Faye Messner, one of the most colorful figures in religious broadcasting, has posted a goodbye letter to fans on her Web site.
posted by parmanparman (139 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
She's not going to heaven.
posted by four panels at 3:10 PM on May 10, 2007


I will always have a weird affection for Tammy Faye, despite all the very good reasons why I shouldn't. May her final days pass in comfort.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:14 PM on May 10, 2007 [5 favorites]


"I will always have a weird affection for Tammy Faye, despite all the very good reasons why I shouldn't." yeah me too....
posted by yodelingisfun at 3:15 PM on May 10, 2007


I say all us NYCers head down to W'burg and pay our respects to the next gen of Bakker.
posted by adamms222 at 3:15 PM on May 10, 2007


There's a great interview that Ron Jeremy (yes, the Ron Jeremy) gave to BeliefNet, about Jews in Porn, where he talks about his great friendship with Tammy Faye Messner. Remember folks, she's a good person and great entertainer, whatever you may think about her religion. She's a strong advocate for gays and lesbians in the christian faith, which is a brave position to take in this age.
posted by muddgirl at 3:15 PM on May 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


what on earth is anyone supposed to say about this?
posted by shmegegge at 3:17 PM on May 10, 2007 [3 favorites]


I spent some time with the Bakkers back in the day, and got to chat with Tammy quite often. Despite any thing else, she was always a warm, welcoming, loving person, who always had time for anyone. She was never a cynic, but was and remains a person of genuine faith. She has been in this battle with sickness for a long time. Hopefully the end will be with grace.
posted by The Deej at 3:21 PM on May 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


I so sad to hear this. Is my mascara running?
posted by Pater Aletheias at 3:21 PM on May 10, 2007


She's a character and she's survived stuff that would have other people in seclusion from embarassment. Best wishes, Tammy.
posted by jonmc at 3:22 PM on May 10, 2007


Indeed, muddgirl.

I've a couple of gorgeous friends who made a film about her & they genuinely enjoyed her showmanship, spirit, nerve...

I don't know the details of the "damage" she's done - so, yeah, wishes for her comfort here too.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 3:23 PM on May 10, 2007


I'm sure all the cash-strapped senior citizens and other assorted suckers who were ripped off by her and her husband will miss her, and wish her the best of luck with her maker...
posted by dbiedny at 3:25 PM on May 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm generally skeptical of religious celebrities, but she seemed to sort of redeem herself in recent years, at least in the few radio and television interviews I've seen.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 3:26 PM on May 10, 2007


The main reason that I could never hate her... is that as opposed to many devout Christians I have known, she has never been a person who has displayed hate herself. Anyone who embraced her & treated her with respect, whether they were Christian or not, straight, gay, male, female, whoever... she did display love and compassion for in return. So I couldn't help but always like her. Runny mascara & all.

Plus... she handled the whole Jim Bakker scandal with as much dignity as anyone could imagine, I thought. She never lost her faith or showed any bitterness publicly. It was admirable.

65 pounds is frightening.

.
posted by miss lynnster at 3:31 PM on May 10, 2007 [5 favorites]


I watched "The Eyes of Tammy Faye" expecting 2 hours of smug self-sastifcation, but by the end of it I had a reasonable level of respect for her. I'd encourage you snarkers to check it out and see if you still feel the same way. Her crimes were naivety and gullibility, not huckersterism and intolerance.
posted by 0xFCAF at 3:32 PM on May 10, 2007


I was going to say the same thing, 0xFCAF. She seems like a genuinely nice lady. I'll be sad to see her go.

Jody Tresidder, did your friend make "Eyes...?"
posted by brundlefly at 3:35 PM on May 10, 2007


I get no joy in hearing this.
posted by squidfartz at 3:36 PM on May 10, 2007


There is something desperately heartbreaking about someone rejecting overwhelming evidence pointing towards their imminent demise and clinging to the delusional view that their imaginary friend will save them in the end. Particularly so when this person exploited thousands in the same gutter.

She lived and died by faith.
posted by phrontist at 3:36 PM on May 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


nice lady. this makes me sad.

.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:38 PM on May 10, 2007


She lived and died by faith.

Um...she's not dead.
posted by parmanparman at 3:39 PM on May 10, 2007


I think she died of cancer, not faith....
posted by IronWolve at 3:39 PM on May 10, 2007


er, she will die of cancer, not faith.....
posted by IronWolve at 3:39 PM on May 10, 2007


There is something desperately heartbreaking about someone rejecting overwhelming evidence pointing towards their imminent demise and clinging to the delusional view that their imaginary friend will save them in the end.

Get over it.
posted by Doug at 3:39 PM on May 10, 2007 [7 favorites]


BTW, her son is definitely a lot more open-minded than you probably would've expected.
posted by miss lynnster at 3:41 PM on May 10, 2007


She is currently dying, right? So she is dieing by faith... Grammatically the same as "he lived and died by the sword".
posted by phrontist at 3:41 PM on May 10, 2007


What she did 20 years ago was bad, but it wasn't unforgivable. What she's done since then has pretty much redeemed her.
posted by eyeballkid at 3:42 PM on May 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


I saw a screening of The Eyes of Tammy Faye a few years ago that included a pre-screening on-stage chat between Tammy and John Waters. She was awesome and the crowd at the Castro Theater adored her. I don't agree with her faith but in terms of compassion and pure loving kindness, she's hard to beat.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 3:43 PM on May 10, 2007


Jim Bakker, on the other hand? Once an asshole, always an asshole.
posted by miss lynnster at 3:44 PM on May 10, 2007


I'm sure all the cash-strapped senior citizens and other assorted suckers who were ripped off by her and her husband will miss her, and wish her the best of luck with her maker...

I remember the old PTL shows quite well. Don't feel too sory for the folks that donated their money for their timeshares. They should have known better. And for my money I believe Jim and Tammy were just really bad at math, not malicious. Altho they, too, should have known better. I do suspect that others in their organization were a tad more, shall we say, mercenary.

If any of you haven't read Jim's book I Was Wrong, you really should find a copy. It's a compelling read.
posted by konolia at 3:47 PM on May 10, 2007


There is something desperately heartbreaking about someone rejecting overwhelming evidence pointing towards their imminent demise and clinging to the delusional view that their imaginary friend will save them in the end.

Why? I mean, if you're going to die, why not die happy, regardless of the metaphysical truth/falsity of it? I mean, if there's ever a time you want the opiate of the masses, why not when you're suffering from terminal illness? Would you also deny morphine?

What's more heartbreaking is folks suffering with a full life ahead of themselves from situations they could escape from, except they imagine they can "pray away" stuff like war, poverty, racism, sexism, abuse, etc.
posted by yeloson at 3:49 PM on May 10, 2007 [6 favorites]


Thank you for this, even though I have no idea who she is. This is a fascinating goodbye.
posted by niccolo at 3:50 PM on May 10, 2007


After seeing The Eyes of Tammy Faye, my view on her changed a lot. And watching her and Jay on his Sundance show was bittersweet.

I'm glad I got to see her host a Drag Bingo night a few years ago. Her voice was a bit ragged and she was clearly ill, but what a trouper.
posted by pinky at 3:51 PM on May 10, 2007


Metafilter: Not malicious, just bad at math.
posted by psmealey at 3:53 PM on May 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


The Eyes of Tammy Faye.
posted by ericb at 3:55 PM on May 10, 2007


that's going to make me go dig into the album stash and find her christmas album I have buried somewhere

or should I wait and ebay it?
posted by timsteil at 3:56 PM on May 10, 2007


"She's not going to heaven."

She and her (ex?) husband, and many others in that chosen vocation of evangelism, repeatedly made the tactical error of judging lest they be judged. It is not wise to follow their example. Wherever she ends up, I for one wish her well, but I'd rather let God figure out where her final destination may be. Coincidentally, it is also not wise to upset a wookie.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:08 PM on May 10, 2007


"Jody Tresidder, did your friend make "Eyes...?"
posted by brundlefly

Yes, that was their film, brundlefly

(Ericb just linked it - Fenton Bailey & Randy Barbato made it. They're utterly brilliant guys - very wicked, though terribly kind and inclined not to take the corporate view of things. Although Fenton insisted on claiming that junk bond guy - Milkin ? - was something of a misunderstood victim too - to the extent of making some mates extremely cross!)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 4:11 PM on May 10, 2007


Unfortunate use of grocer's quotes in that letter. "Don't give up," "feeling great."

I predict she is going to "fully recover from cancer" soon.
posted by emelenjr at 4:11 PM on May 10, 2007


There is something desperately heartbreaking about someone rejecting overwhelming evidence pointing towards their imminent demise and clinging to the delusional view that their imaginary friend will save them in the end.

It's not like Tammy Faye pulled her doctor aside and said "You can stop treating me now, God's on the case!" She's not expecting Jesus to pop up in the next few days and pluck the cancer from her body. Tammy Faye knows she's going to die and she is finding comfort in her faith in God, the same way others would find comfort in the love of family.

But think about it. What is "family"? It's a concept we humans have made up to explain the weird emotional impulses we feel towards people who we share a bloodline with. Or heck, even people we just spend a lot of time in close proximity with. We draw the lines arbitrarily--a married couple can be a family, while some families are grandparents, cousins, second cousins, and the kid down the block. In the end it's all bullshit, a convention, something that makes us happy. We like being part of a family. But in the end we are all in this fight alone.

Why do I bring this up? Because only a cold hearted bastard would come into a thread like this, figuratively kick a woman while she's down and then laugh how she's clinging to an artificial construct like "family" as she dies.

How is faith any different?
posted by turaho at 4:11 PM on May 10, 2007 [4 favorites]


repeatedly made the tactical error of judging lest they be judged. It is not wise to follow their example.

This is Mefi. I think that ship has sailed.
posted by jonmc at 4:11 PM on May 10, 2007


Wookiee
posted by ericb at 4:13 PM on May 10, 2007


The negative stuff in this thread stuns me.

Tammy Faye will forever be known as one of the first people in any media outlet to not only acknowledge AIDS, but lovingly welcome gays on television. She had shitty luck in broadcasting and got fucked over by Pat Robertson. And her former husband's a slime. But any liberal half his salt owes her for a lot. She's a victim, not a snake.

I hope she's comfortable, and her note actually broke my heart a little. And I place four panels emotional maturity at about age fourteen. ROCK DUDE, that comment was BITCHN.
posted by Peter H at 4:14 PM on May 10, 2007 [6 favorites]


she did good.
posted by amberglow at 4:17 PM on May 10, 2007


(meanwhile, is the son still being funded by the same old haters?)
posted by amberglow at 4:18 PM on May 10, 2007


she's gonna figure it all out real soon.

or she won't be able to.

one or the other.
posted by dopamine at 4:22 PM on May 10, 2007


Desperate and heartbreaking? I don't think so. What's more heartbreaking - to stay true to your beliefs in your waning days despite your physical pain or to give up completely? Her beliefs are a part of her. Whether or not you agree with those beliefs is irrelevant at this point.
posted by katillathehun at 4:24 PM on May 10, 2007


Having read more about her, I take back my negative feelings about her. She seems like a sweet soul and a true original.

Heaven's going to get a little weirder, and that's OK.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:29 PM on May 10, 2007


Is it just me, or does it seem kinda crappy that her current husband is "out building churches" while she's being taken care of by other people? Even if they're estranged, that seems cold.

She seems like a nice person. I'm sorry to hear this.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:34 PM on May 10, 2007


What I saw in the Eyes of Tammy Faye really changed my mind about her. Prior to that, I'd assumed she was just as hateful, homophobic, manipulative, corrupt, etc., as the rest of them -- not the case at all. My partner and I met her briefly before her appearance at the Castro in SF a few years ago, and found her goofy, gracious, and charming, without a hint of self-righteousness or pretension.

Very sad to hear this.

.
posted by treepour at 4:36 PM on May 10, 2007


There is something desperately heartbreaking about someone rejecting overwhelming evidence pointing towards their imminent demise and clinging to the delusional view that their imaginary friend will save them in the end.

Is there a way you can anti-favorite a post?

Whatever awaits her (or any of us), this letter says to me that she's facing it with great courage, dignity, and optimism. I wish her well.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:37 PM on May 10, 2007 [3 favorites]


Tammy was for a long time the living embodiment of Christian commercial garishness. She's like those exciting, hot pink big-handled Easter baskets that's mostly plastigrass filler with a few cheap chocolates in shiny foil laid on top lined up at the checkout at K-Mart in 1987. She makes the baby Jesus smile. Me too.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:39 PM on May 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


This thread could use some Philip Larkin:

Aubade

I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what's really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.
Arid interrogation: yet the dread
Of dying, and being dead,
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.
The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse
- The good not done, the love not given, time
Torn off unused - nor wretchedly because
An only life can take so long to climb
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;
But at the total emptiness for ever,
The sure extinction that we travel to
And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,
Not to be anywhere,
And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.

This is a special way of being afraid
No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
That vast, moth-eaten musical brocade
Created to pretend we never die,
And specious stuff that says No rational being
Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing
That this is what we fear - no sight, no sound,
No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,
Nothing to love or link with,
The anasthetic from which none come round.

And so it stays just on the edge of vision,
A small, unfocused blur, a standing chill
That slows each impulse down to indecision.
Most things may never happen: this one will,
And realisation of it rages out
In furnace-fear when we are caught without
People or drink. Courage is no good:
It means not scaring others. Being brave
Lets no one off the grave.
Death is no different whined at than withstood.

Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.
It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,
Have always known, know that we can't escape,
Yet can't accept. One side will have to go.
Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring
Intricate rented world begins to rouse.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.
posted by four panels at 4:40 PM on May 10, 2007 [11 favorites]


Ha.
posted by Peter H at 4:43 PM on May 10, 2007


okay four panels is okay again with me.
posted by Peter H at 4:44 PM on May 10, 2007


This thread is useless without pictures.
posted by damn dirty ape at 4:51 PM on May 10, 2007


she did good.

I haven't really kept up with her story. But that comment told me everything I needed to know (in a good way.)
posted by Cyrano at 4:56 PM on May 10, 2007


#parmanparman: Tammy Faye Messner Bids Her Fans Goodbye. Down to 65 pounds and unable to continue treatment for cancer, Tammy Faye Messner, one of the most colorful figures in religious broadcasting, has posted a goodbye letter to fans on her Web site.

She may shortly die, but she's specifically not saying goodbye, it appears ...
posted by WCityMike at 5:08 PM on May 10, 2007


"She's not going to heaven."

Fuck your weak snark, ass.

I have to say that it was her appearance on The Surreal Life and on Fresh Air that made me think of her as more than a cartoon. It's hard to think of a "reality" show having such a positive impact on me, but it did. And, though I'm not one, the Christian compassion she exhibited was beautiful.
posted by klangklangston at 5:10 PM on May 10, 2007


Tammy Faye was set-up, used, and then shunned by the popular purveyors of her "faith." Her only fault is being somewhat naive and under educated. I don't believe she was ever dishonest or greedy.

She was an earnest and compassionate person and I think she would have been so in spite of her faith.

That she was consistent to her message of faith and extended that to Gays and HIV positive people — in that love is the supreme value — is to her great credit. If I was to worship a creator it would be one more like hers than that of evil fraud Jerry Fallwell — a man sick to his core with hate.

She was shit on by the evangelical movement who are vindictive in the extreme when confronted with thier own hypocracy.

I guarantee you the CBN news coverage of her passing will focus far more on her "scandal" and her circus makeup then it will how she redeemed herself, was consistent in her love and belief, and proved herself far more "Christian" than all those other Evangelical scum bags put together.
posted by tkchrist at 5:11 PM on May 10, 2007 [3 favorites]


Everyone here should watch the Eyes of Tammy Faye it's a great documentary. There is also a Frontline that deals with the Bakers that shed light on Tammy Faye's subsequent "framing" and how her ministries were stolen from under her.
posted by tkchrist at 5:14 PM on May 10, 2007


To put things in perspective... the negativity people are expressing towards her is largely a satirist hangover from a time when tawdry fundraising and contrived TV histrionics were the biggest things to fear from Big Religion. Nobody back then imagined evolution, gay rights, Muslim immigrants and Roe vs Wade would be actually buckling under the onslaught of a church and state no longer completely seperate.
posted by CynicalKnight at 5:17 PM on May 10, 2007 [4 favorites]


CynicalKnight nails it. The left is much more smug and cruel in matters of taste than in matters of substance. Superficial to our discredit.

The fact is Tammy Faye had REAL charachter. She had her marriage, family, church, wealth, and stature unfairly stripped from her while most of America pointed and laughed at her make up.

Few noticed she kept her dignity and was still doing her works. She was still loving the unlovable.

I have to say it make me choke up a little thinking about it. I got something in my eye... I gotta go.
posted by tkchrist at 5:22 PM on May 10, 2007 [9 favorites]


she redeemed herself, was consistent in her love and belief, and proved herself far more "Christian" than all those other Evangelical scum bags put together.

What a fine epitath.
posted by jokeefe at 5:34 PM on May 10, 2007


CynicalKnight nails it. The left is much more smug and cruel in matters of taste than in matters of substance. Superficial to our discredit. posted by tkchrist

I agree CynicalKnight nails it, tkchrist.

But your synopsis doesn't nail what he nailed, does it?
posted by Jody Tresidder at 5:35 PM on May 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


She is currently dying, right? So she is dieing by faith... Grammatically the same as "he lived and died by the sword".

No, she's dying with faith. Kind of different. I'm pretty sure the statement "he lived and died by the sword" means that he was always fighting and that's how he died.

Believing that someone's dying process is somehow worsened by a belief in a higher being is a lot more retarded than believing in a higher power.

I've talked before about the morons who actually go in for cryogenics as a way to overcome their cancer. They're far too secular to believe in a spiritual life after death, so they take the exact same issue everyone else has -- an inability to contemplate the end of their existence -- and finds the most scientific and tangible way to "live forever." They have their brains, organs and whole bodies frozen in the firm belief that someone will actually bother to come up with the technology to unfreeze people, and then actually unfreeze them. If I had to take my chances, I'd rather believe in reincarnation than being unfrozen and coming back to life exactly as I was before* (I mean otherwise, what is the point?)

Sorry if I offended any atheists out there who are planning on freezing themselves in order to live forever.

* In fact, I do believe in reincarnation. I'm not sure why, but it's just one of those things that I've always believed.
posted by Deathalicious at 5:43 PM on May 10, 2007


I remember her on “The Surreal Life” a few years back. She was a bit of an airhead, but seemed genuinely kind-hearted. And she and Ron Jeremy really hit it off (no, not in that way). I hope she finds something good on the other side.
posted by zardoz at 5:49 PM on May 10, 2007


I always remember that Tammy Faye expressed -- throughout her career -- an inclusive and embracing form of Christianity, far, far different from so many other televangelists. She was peripheral to the PTL scandals, and IIRC she was not charged or convicted of any crime. She had many friends in the GLBT community. I'm so sad to see her like this.

When I read about Tammy Faye in the paper this morning, I also thought that she was a unique personality for another reason: After Aimee Semple McPherson decades ago, Tammy may have been the only woman evangelist to achieve a large "mass communications" following. Most other women in that field are in the shadow of their husbands, but Tammy had her own shows on PTL in addition to the joint appearances with Jim. She was, and is, something special in her own right.

Interesting that Sister Aimee's career was also marked by what was seen as great inclusiveness for her day, and her career also ended in scandal.

Anyhow, I gew up seeing and hearing about the Bakkers and seeing my view of them evolve and grow. I will miss her when she is gone.
posted by Robert Angelo at 5:49 PM on May 10, 2007


I got something in my eye... I gotta go.

I love Tammy Faye, and respect what you just said but have to ask: It's not an eyelash is it?
posted by Peter H at 5:54 PM on May 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'd also like to offer props for Eyes of Tammy Faye, an unexpectedly cool little movie (the puppets cursing during one of the chapter headings then giggling was awesome). It really helped to humanize the woman.
posted by JHarris at 6:00 PM on May 10, 2007


There is also a Frontline that deals with the Bakers

Praise the Lord -- "Frontline traces the rise and fall of television evangelists Jim and Tammy Bakker and investigates why government agencies failed to vigorously investigate charges of corruption in the Bakker empire."
posted by ericb at 6:05 PM on May 10, 2007


Back around 1988 I was waiting tables in a pizza place in Charlotte, NC. Jim and Tammy and their entourage of 15 or so, all of this mid-PTL scandal, came into our restaurant regularly for a few months. They were as nice as could be. Tammy was super-nice, and under all the stress of notoriety she was still very classy. They tipped well, too.

I do not count Tammy Faye among the asshole evangelists. She's cool. God bless her.
posted by Cookiebastard at 6:10 PM on May 10, 2007


Who couldn't love Tammy Faye?

My favorite "story" about her, which circulated years ago and not apropos of her obviously final present condition:

Cosmetic archaelogists were doing an excavation of the various layers to be found on Tammy Faye's face. When they carefully scraped away the bottom layer, do you know what they found?

[You're supposed to say, "No, what?"]

Jimmy Hoffa.
posted by beagle at 6:18 PM on May 10, 2007


It may be the Gabriel Garcia Marquez binge I've been on, but I would submit an opinion a bit more optimistic than Philip Larkin’s.

Attitude toward Death

Live your life that the fear of death
can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about his religion.
Respect others in their views
and demand that they respect yours.
Love your life, perfect your life,
beautify all things in your life.
Seek to make your life long
and of service to your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day
when you go over the great divide.
Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting
or passing a friend, or even a stranger, if in a lonely place.
Show respect to all people, but grovel to none.
When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light,
for your life, for your strength.
Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason to give thanks,
the fault lies in yourself.
Touch not the poisonous firewater that makes wise ones turn to fools
and robs the spirit of its vision.
When your time comes to die, be not like those
whose hearts are filled with fear of death,
so that when their time comes they weep and pray
for a little more time to live their lives over again
in a different way.
Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.

The Teaching of Tecumseh

Lofty Ideals, but I like that. Why aspire to mediocrity? Why worry about how you will die when you can still work on how you would live?

As to Tammy Fae, I don’t know much about her, if she lived up to any of Tecumseh’s ideals or if she even would have wanted to, but I hope she dies in peace. Some of the animosity her letter has apparently caused surprises me. Learn what you can from the actions of the dead or the living, but holding bitterness toward the dead hurts who? Making light of a dying old woman’s farewell won’t hurt her, it only makes one appear an inexperienced, pathetic coward.
posted by BostonJake at 6:41 PM on May 10, 2007 [3 favorites]


That is almost as bad as the joke that circulated about 20 years ago that said, hey, they found Jimmy Hoffa?
Where?
He was face down in Veronica Lake.

Yeah, I had to look it up, too.
posted by etaoin at 6:43 PM on May 10, 2007


She's a strong advocate for gays and lesbians in the christian faith, which is a brave position to take in this age.

Several years ago Tammy Faye was on tour... it was kind of a musical caberet-type show with personal recollections mixed in. As part of that, she was reaching out to the gay men's chorus in each city on her tour that had one to sing on stage with her. I was conducting a gay men's chorus at the time, and we ended up doing a gig with her (we sang a backup part on "Lean On Me"). It was a cool experience, and I was struck by how authentic and down-to-earth she is.

This is sad, and I hope she's comfortable. She's a neat lady.
posted by the_bone at 6:50 PM on May 10, 2007


"Down to 65 pounds ..."

25 of it makeup and eyelashes.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:55 PM on May 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Avon's stock price is down 7%.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 7:08 PM on May 10, 2007


.

I guess. Whatever.
posted by BaxterG4 at 7:31 PM on May 10, 2007


i like her.
posted by unknowncommand at 7:38 PM on May 10, 2007


Early 70s, Charlotte, NC--my dad was an architect with Ervin, an up-and-coming firm. They were moving out of their small building on East Independence. The next occupants of the building? The fledgling PTL Club. That's right--my dad sold his building to Jim and Tammy.

Years later, I was the proud owner of a limited-edition T-shirt, emblazoned with a face print of Tammy, with the caption "I ran into Tammy Faye at the mall."

Memmmmmries....
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:01 PM on May 10, 2007


Where can I send donations? If I become an Afterlife Faith Partner for only $19.95 a month, will I get a free Bible signed by Tammy Faye's rightful heir?
posted by Charles Wilson at 8:19 PM on May 10, 2007


.
posted by moonbird at 8:31 PM on May 10, 2007


I don't like big-c Christians.
posted by newfers at 8:38 PM on May 10, 2007


May God bless you Tammy Faye.
posted by caddis at 8:39 PM on May 10, 2007


Poetry .... yes. Tammy deserves poetry. (The Baker men do not, but Tammy does. )
posted by RMD at 8:41 PM on May 10, 2007


Tammy Faye Bakker is going to heaven and anyone who was mean to her will be lucky to meet her there. She will forgive all! Tearfully!
posted by longsleeves at 8:44 PM on May 10, 2007


Sing it, Tammy Faye! (MP3)
posted by Robot Johnny at 8:45 PM on May 10, 2007


Love.
posted by longsleeves at 8:48 PM on May 10, 2007


And for my money I believe Jim and Tammy were just really bad at math, not malicious.

Uh, yeah. Illegally diverting millions of dollars in religious donations to his personal use is just being "really bad at math." Good lord, that's delusional. The fact that he oversold his mostly-fictional accomodations to gullible viewers is just a small part of his maliciousness. Fucking around on his wife with his church secretary, the $250,000 he gave to Jessica Hahn to shut up her accusations of drugged sexual assault...was all that just "bad math," too? Maybe if you squint at it long enough. Let's not even touch the reports Jim loved dick on the side, too.

Anyway, give Tammy a pass if you like (and I do, mainly on the strength of her dignity after the disgrace and her open-hearted looking-the-other-way on gay issues, as others have noted), but to say Jim Bakker was just "bad at math" is to do a hilarious disservice to the facts of his fraud:

In the spring of 1986, PTL needed cash desperately. The television ministry had built up an $8.4 million debt to the builder of its Christian amusement park, Heritage USA. Jim Bakker figured that he needed to do something fast, so he decided to hold a telethon to raise at least $1 million for the builder. He made this decision on a feeling, a feeling of faith.

"Well, Lord, I know I felt faith," said Bakker to God and then to his studio audience. He explained to his followers that the Lord seemed to speak in his heart, saying, "Well, you're on television all day; just mention it to the satellite people, the need, and do the special that you were doing with the studio audience all week long, to be able to raise that million dollars."

The special offeer was a steal: for $1,000, Bakker offered his viewers a package of lodging and free recreation that had once cost $3,000. PTL's audience grabbed at the deal and contributed $16.6 million in just 12 days. There was only one problem, and it had religious overtones: There was no room at the inn...

posted by mediareport at 9:03 PM on May 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


I am heartened by the genuine good vibes in this thread.
posted by The Deej at 9:04 PM on May 10, 2007


Ah, revisionism.

Tammy Faye was fully aware of what was happening and her role in it at PTL. She enjoyed the big houses, fancy cars, exotic meals, private jets, and her pseudo-celebrity to the absolute maximum. She voluntarily participated in, assisted, and aided-and-abetted the fleecing of their flock.

You could say her mascara ran down her face and all the way to the bank. She knew her Mercedes convertible cost money, and a lot of it, and she knew she was begging for money, for hours every week, on television, from people who had less than she did.

Now, I don't really care because I consider those who were fleeced to be stupid, weak-willed, gullible fools. A fool and their money are soon parted, and all that. (And before you start screaming at me, I know people, personally, who donated LOTS of money to PTL.)

But those of you candy-coating it here are more naive than you're accusing her of being.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:13 PM on May 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


I would hope that overbooking hotel rooms is only a crime if it rises to the level of knowing fraud. In the words of Dr. Hunter H. Thompson (referring to the Watergate scandal): "An orgy of dumbness and punishment"
posted by longsleeves at 9:16 PM on May 10, 2007


Tammy Faye was fully aware of what was happening and her role in it at PTL. She enjoyed the big houses, fancy cars, exotic meals, private jets, and her pseudo-celebrity to the absolute maximum. She voluntarily participated in, assisted, and aided-and-abetted the fleecing of their flock.

Almost certainly true. I still pray for her and hope she finds the Lord's redemption. She is such a sad character.
posted by caddis at 9:25 PM on May 10, 2007


This thread chiked me right the hell up. I'm bawkin like a baby.
posted by vronsky at 9:49 PM on May 10, 2007


The older she got the more likable she seemed. I don't believe in talking bad of the dead, and I wouldn't wish cancer on anyone. I hope she's as comfortable as possible in her last days.

However, I don't know if time has softened her past, or if the people she and her husband screwed aren't popular victims on mefi (old and white) while the was a positive for issues dear to mefi's heart (gay rights) but some of the comments:

She's a character

she did good


are comically ignorant. And to top it off:

Don't feel too sory for the folks that donated their money for their timeshares. They should have known better.

The ol' blaming the victim approach. Pathetic.
posted by justgary at 9:50 PM on May 10, 2007


Fresh Air interview in 2004
posted by edgeways at 10:23 PM on May 10, 2007


Perfect, CynicalKnight and tkchrist.

<3 Tammy Faye.
posted by petersn1 at 10:24 PM on May 10, 2007


But your synopsis doesn't nail what he nailed, does it?

I wasn't offering a synopsis of anything, Jody. It was an opinion in addition to his.
posted by tkchrist at 10:28 PM on May 10, 2007


Tammy Faye was fully aware of what was happening and her role in it at PTL.

Of the fraud? Not according to US Prosecutors or her. She was aware that her husband was asking her to continue to shill for him - after she expressed doubts about what was happening. But C'mon it was her HUSBAND. Cut her some slack. If you can't trust your spouse who can you trust? Granted she was not too bright. But she didn't commit a crime or bilk anybody out of anything.


She enjoyed the big houses, fancy cars, exotic meals, private jets, and her pseudo-celebrity to the absolute maximum.

So what? Wouldn't YOU? 99% of humanity would opt for crass materialism if given half the chance.

Enjoying wealth is an indictment now? That smacks of hypocrisy. That's like saying you shouldn't enjoy your iPod or new car.

She voluntarily participated in, assisted, and aided-and-abetted the fleecing of their flock.

Was she charged with a crime? No.
posted by tkchrist at 10:45 PM on May 10, 2007


I sincerely don't think this is an issue you can point to a group of people and sneer while saying "the left all believe this" or "the right all believe that". Doing so says more about the poster than any real insight into a political stance. It comes down to individuals, there are assholes on all sides of all fences, extrapolating individual behavior to represent the totality of a group is asinine.

Having said all of that, i expect Tammy's true story lies in-between it all. Very likely she was taken advantage of, but also likely she had some notion of what was going on. She seemed to have mellowed with age but still advocated "gayness" as being a sin...

I don't wish her pain by any means, and hope her passing is peaceful, but neither will I be moved by it, as with all things ambivalence is the overriding feeling.

Fare thee well.
posted by edgeways at 10:46 PM on May 10, 2007


Geez, people. Late-stage cancer is a horrible, humiliating thing. Unless you're planning to go otherwise, let this human being die in peace.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 11:04 PM on May 10, 2007


I found the Eyes of Tammy Faye to be really enlightening. It made her more human and filled out the person behind the scandals and tawdry glitz. I expected to laugh at her and ended up admiring her.

I'm sorry to see that she's suffering and in pain, I hope it is relieved for her and she has a graceful exit.
posted by quarsan at 12:15 AM on May 11, 2007


So everybody's dumping on Jim, no one's mentioned Tammy's second husband, Roe Messner, Christian writer and entrepeneur. Mr. Messner wound up in prison, too, just like Jim. Obviously he was leading poor Tammy astray and should be condemned. I demand equal time for criminal second husbands!
posted by CCBC at 12:57 AM on May 11, 2007



quote quarsan:
I'm sorry to see that she's suffering and in pain, I hope it is relieved for her and she has a graceful exit.

The time, place, and manner of her death are her's to choose. So far she has chosen to suffer. Perhaps she thinks this places her closer to Christ. I doubt it.

See EuthanasiaClinic.com for realistic options to a prolonged and painful death.
posted by altman at 1:13 AM on May 11, 2007


tkchrist writes 'Enjoying wealth is an indictment now? That smacks of hypocrisy. That's like saying you shouldn't enjoy your iPod or new car.

In people who profess a role as spiritual or religious leaders? Yes, it sure seems like an indictment to me. Bilking your flock for money by claiming that it's needed for missionary work or charity or whatever, and then using that money to live a lifestyle of luxury seems to me to be the very height of hypocrisy.

I'm sure Tammy Faye *will* end up in heaven though. Immediately after that camel gets through the eye of the needle.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:46 AM on May 11, 2007


I went to Heritage USA right after Jim's fall from grace, and it was the weirdest place I've ever been. All the cranes and construction stuff was all sitting there, abandoned - as if the workers were just waiting for everyone to realise that Jim was innocent so they could get on with it.

There were still a few of the faithful in the lobby of the big hotel, weeping; holding hands and praying for Jim and Tammy. I wanted to grab them and shake them, but I didn't think I was strong enough to shake the gullibility out of them.

The poor bastards. Some people have a deep-seated need to believe in liars, I expect.
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:08 AM on May 11, 2007


Ah, revisionism.

Tammy Faye was fully aware of what was happening….

…Now, I don't really care because I consider those who were fleeced to be stupid, weak-willed, gullible fools. A fool and their money are soon parted, and all that. (And before you start screaming at me, I know people, personally, who donated LOTS of money to PTL.)

But those of you candy-coating it here are more naive than you're accusing her of being.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:13 PM on May 10 [1 favorite +]

……………………………………………………………………..

Papa's got a brand new bag, indeed.

RIP Godfather. Jump back and getta look at those wings.
posted by Ynoxas at 10:13 AM on December 25 [+]


Mmmmm, mmm. A nice big serving of hypocrisy, generously seasoned with religious intolerance and just a dash of self righteous pomp. Kind of reminds me of Jim Baker actually.

Glossing over the faults of someone on their deathbed or who has recently passed is not naïve. It just shows that you can conduct yourself with at least a little class. Compassion is not a weakness, it’s a strength. If you want to hash and rehash the old “I think religion is terrible because….” debate than go for it. But using the last words of a tired sick old woman as she lies dying of cancer as a forum is ghoulish. And unworthy of people who normally produce concise, often fine minded, opinions.
posted by BostonJake at 3:16 AM on May 11, 2007


I will say this, she was tacky, and she was a snake oil salesman. Having said that, she was also one of the better ones, even when her husband was being attacked with claims that he was homosexual neither she, nor he, took the approach of spewing homobigoted hate to try and counter the claims.

There's a reason many GLBT groups like her, the Bakkers were the only televangelists who never did go in for gay bashing.

So, yeah, she was tacky and a con artist, but she had some standards of decency and that counts for something.
posted by sotonohito at 3:18 AM on May 11, 2007


*runs to bathroom to wipe running mascara from face*

Good bye Tammy Faye.
posted by Pollomacho at 4:50 AM on May 11, 2007


It's a shame when someone dies of cancer. It's a painful, harrowing experience no one should have to go through...

However, knowing of her behaviour in the 80's with her and her husband, and knowing they are "God Fearing" folk,
I hope she doesn't mind warm places.
posted by Chocomog at 4:52 AM on May 11, 2007


It does not make it right (and I believe a religiously based organization needs higher standards for itself than other non-profits) but... the amount of compensation taken by the Bakkers was about 3% of what they raised. Jim was never charged with taking too much money, but with overselling timeshares.

See sentence #1: It does not make it right.
posted by The Deej at 5:18 AM on May 11, 2007


She's a strong advocate for gays and lesbians in the christian faith, which is a brave position to take in this age.

I only met Tammy Faye once, at Sundance when she was there with "Eyes of Tammy Faye". She held an ice cream social. In Utah. In January. With RuPaul as her co-hostess.

There's always a special place in my heart for eccentrics of any stripe and style.
posted by bclark at 6:11 AM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


I walways thought of her as a good crazy that got hooked up with some bad crazies. Post-Bakker she was revealed as a sweet old eccentric. The Surreal Life really helped put across how full of non-judgemental love she was.

Good Luck Homegirl.
posted by djrock3k at 6:32 AM on May 11, 2007


See EuthanasiaClinic.com for realistic options to a prolonged and painful death.

I have no doubt that Tammy Faye suffers from the same thing my Mom did, a conviction that suicide is not an option because of its implications upon her expected afterlife.

The church preaches mercy but doesn't recognize the ultimate application of it. Tragic.
posted by davelog at 6:38 AM on May 11, 2007


Tammy Faye was fully aware of what was happening and her role in it at PTL. She enjoyed the big houses, fancy cars, exotic meals, private jets, and her pseudo-celebrity to the absolute maximum. She voluntarily participated in, assisted, and aided-and-abetted the fleecing of their flock.

I don't have a dog in this fight, but the first thing I thought when I read your comment was, "well, yeah, but Carmella Soprano's still a sympathetic character."
posted by COBRA! at 7:01 AM on May 11, 2007


yeah, but she shouldn't be.
posted by hojoki at 7:41 AM on May 11, 2007


BostonJake: That's cute, but also irrelevant. I really, really can't see what you're going for here.

James Brown took people's money by offering them fantastic music and a bombastic stage presence, and he delivered both, unequivocally.

Tammy Faye offered salvation, forgiveness, a mansion on those streets of gold in heaven above, all for your savings account.

She offered to intercede on your behalf.

James Brown didn't beg for little old ladies retirement. He didn't try to swindle the uneducated, unwashed masses with promises of eternal life.

Also note that I don't wish Tammy Faye any ill. As I said in my post, I consider the people being fleeced to be ignorant and basically, they should have known better.

I'm not wishing Tammy Faye to hell. I'm not wanting to deny her a place in her imaginary heaven.

But the first 50% of the thread with the "oh she didn't know" and "she didn't understand" transcends naivety to willful ignorance.

So what? Wouldn't YOU? 99% of humanity would opt for crass materialism if given half the chance.

tkchrist: I'm not a religious pervert preying upon the weak willed and superstitious. I'm not trying to guilt the faithful into donating beyond their means to a charity that really was simply an effort to enrich the spokespeople.

Put another way, if the way I got my iPod was to convince some poor half-wit that I had some influence over the fate of their eternal soul, then yeah, it would interfere with my enjoyment of the iPod. Her failure to feel guilt or modify her behavior is what removes her from any pedestal some of you think she belongs on.

If Tammy Faye had gotten on stage and cried her mascara down her chest while begging for the congregation to buy her a new vacation house in Aspen, then more power to her. There's nothing in the world wrong with that. That's capitalism, baby.

But she was a fraud. She *KNEW* she was a fraud, unless you want to say she was mentally retarded. She knew that she was begging people to help some poor starving soul in some dark corner of the world to know Jesus, and yet she knew the money enriched Jim and herself.

The part that makes me shake my head at the people above is that she was an active participant, in many ways much more famous, and certainly more influential, at least with a portion of the congregation, than Jim. The fact that she wasn't the one making the wire transfers is, to me, completely besides the point.

She prostituted herself, gladly and willfully, on a pulpit of avarice and pride.

The fact that "she didn't hate queers" is not sufficient for me to then applaud her.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:54 AM on May 11, 2007


Whoa now Ynoxas, I disagree. She was not knowingly a fraud. In her mind, to this day, I believe that she thought that they were trying to bring people closer to salvation, that through the theme parks and tv shows they were saving people from the fires of hell. I don't think she would have done any of it if she had not thought that she was bringing people closer to salvation. Naive as that may sound to those of us who are not adherants to her brand of religion, I think that really is what she believes they were doing.

Of course she did know that they were personally getting rich in the process, granted, but I don't think she ever saw anything wrong with that so long as they were continuing to do the works that she felt were helping people.

Jim on the other hand I believe was more than happy to do it for the money and sex and that's what sets him in a different league, a whole different ring of Dante's Inferno.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:09 AM on May 11, 2007


Amazingly enough, Jim Bakker is doing it again, here in Branson, Missouri. He has his television show up and running (I believe it was linked from YouTube earlier in this thread) with his new wife, and they are building a new "religious communtiy" just like the old one. Pre construction prices available!
posted by shinynewnick at 8:13 AM on May 11, 2007


Ynoxas Yeah, but how does that make her any worse than any other priest/witchdoctor/shaman/whatever? Don't tell me that the minister at a small church is any less a con man, he's just less successful and less upfront about the "give us money or burn in hell" racket he's in.

I don't like televangalists; they're con men. But so is every other person who makes a living preaching. Some are more successful than others, all are slime.

There's degrees of slime. And those who make hate of homosexuals a central part of their con are worse, IMO, than those who don't. So I'll take the Bakkers over Swaggart, or Robertson, or Tilton, or Fallwell anyday.

Pollomacho Can't agree that she didn't know. Of course she knew, either that or she was genuinely insane. No one can stand up and say "give me money and you get into heaven" and not be either crazy, or a con artist. Some might convince themselves that their con benefits its victims, but I've never yet met a non-slimey preacher of any sort.
posted by sotonohito at 8:14 AM on May 11, 2007


she was the #2 capo in a racketeer influenced, corrupt organization. i don't doubt that she was kind to animals and occasionally baked cookies for children, but....

ok, you pillars of nonjudgmental love and forgiveness, i wanna see you back on here in force when o.j. simpson contracts terminal cancer.
posted by bruce at 8:30 AM on May 11, 2007


I think you have a bit of a mistaken concept of what Tammy Faye was telling people and for that matter what most ministers are saying, since the protestant reformation at least, sotonohito. Bakker asked for money to build her theme parks and to keep her network on the air, she did not offer heaven to those who gave.

Most ministers are not raking in the dough. They are not building mansions or air conditioned dog houses. They also don't offer salvation in exchange for cash. There are some, granted, that do, but they are the exception. Most ask for assistance, as Bakker did, to continue their ministry. Most actually put the money they receive into the church or the charitable works that their church performs.

I am not a believer personally, but I think it is a rare sleeze-bag that enters the clergy seeking personal wealth. Rather most do it out of a genuine desire to serve and help others. Tammy Faye as a naive young woman wanted to serve. She got rich doing so and then her husband's greed and siphoning off the collection plate caused a great downfall. She never stopped trying to help people though and never stopped wanting to "bring people to salvation" even after that fall. She even saw her appearance on a sleezy reality show as an opportunity to be an example of charity and Christian goodness.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:43 AM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


.
posted by MythMaker at 8:53 AM on May 11, 2007


Ynoxas if that is your criteria... then in my opinion they are all frauds because IMHO the premise they are ALL selling is not true. I mean whats worse than telling people they will live forever when you have no proof they will?
posted by tkchrist at 9:31 AM on May 11, 2007


Pollomacho Whether they're rolling in money like Pat Robertson or just living comfortably like the minister from the church down the street is merely a matter of degree.

Is a con man who makes billions in stock scams worse than a guy who just makes enough to scrape along doing three card monty? I'll say no, both are con men, its just a question of how successful and ambitious they are.

If someone says "You are scum and deserve to burn in hell, but if you listen to what I have to say God will love you and save you from hell so support me financially" it doesn't matter if they're getting jumbo jets, or just a used car, in both cases the individual in question is either delusional, or a con artist. I'll vote con artist.

I say con artist or delusional because regardless of scale what they claim cannot be shown to be true. They promise great stuff, conveniently only available after you die, in exchange for people supporting them in this life. That's a con.

Minister A is probably just some schmoe who looked around and thought "Well, I could work for a living, or I could talk BS for a couple of hours each Sunday and the sheep will keep me moderately well off", while Pat Robertson thought "Hot damn, if I really push this crap I can become a gazillionare!" Same game, same con, same impulse, different scale.

Since I see them all as con men, the only question I see as meaningful is "how vile is the con they run?" Swaggart, Falwell, Robrtson and the like have chosen to not only run a con, but to run a con based on preaching hate. The Bakkers ran a con, but they did it without the hate. I can't say I like any of 'em, but the absence of the "kill the faggots" rhetoric from the Bakkers makes them less awful.
posted by sotonohito at 9:45 AM on May 11, 2007


Again, I'm no believer, but if you really think that all any church does is "promise great stuff, conveniently only available after you die, in exchange for people supporting them in this life" then you've got some serious cynicism going on. You may be surprized to know that most of the charitable giving going on around the world is no-strings attached work being performed by religious groups. There's a reason that the Red Cross has a big, red cross for it's symbol and it's not to make their trucks an easier target on the battlefield.

Don't sell out the work of that battered women's shelter down the street just because they are run by the Salvation Army and especially not because the director of the shelter may actually earn a salary for doing their work.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:24 AM on May 11, 2007


Please, my fellow MeFites, sendme a check, money-order or PayPal fund transfer, so that I, too, can get a new private jet. This will allow me the opportunity to visit all Meetups, as well as spread the "good word" about Metafilter to the uninformed masses.

For your gift of $1,000 or more, you will receive these thank-you gifts to show my appreciation:
You will receive a beautiful art-quality model of 'MeFi One' for your desk or mantle as a constant reminder that you are a vital part of this last-days harvest for Web 2.0 souls.

Your name will be placed prominently in a special area of 'MeFi One" where I drink and party during my travels, as I go around the world preaching the good words of MeFi. Everywhere I fly, your name will travel with me, millions of miles and for years to come, reminding me that you have made it possible for me to go and preach as Mathowie has called me to do.
posted by ericb at 10:28 AM on May 11, 2007


Ynoxas if that is your criteria... then in my opinion they are all frauds because IMHO the premise they are ALL selling is not true. I mean whats worse than telling people they will live forever when you have no proof they will?
posted by tkchrist at 11:31 AM on May 11


I agree completely. They *ARE* all frauds. Just some are frauds AND thieves.

I however am willing to grant some grace to the ones that dedicate their lives and forgo worldly belongings. People who really believe, and do it for others, not for their own benefit. Foreign missionaries, for example, are the real deal. I don't agree with their beliefs, and frankly, not their methods either. I don't feel that natives of the rainforests in Brazil need Jesus. But, although i think the missionaries are misguided, they are certainly not doing this for their own material benefit. I've known foreign missionaries. It is a rough and meager life.

In other words, they are all snake-oil salesmen, but some of the salesmen actually believe in the snake-oil, while others understand it is simply a tool to make them wealthy. I allow it could be possible for someone to be both... to believe it is true, as well as a financial opportunity.

That's all I'm saying. I don't wish death or suffering or damnation on Tammy Faye. She just isn't the saint I see so many here putting her up to be.

With Tammy Faye, I believe the celebrity was every bit, if not more, important to her than the riches.

I remember the Mother Teresa thread, where many of the participants were calling her all sorts of vile, terrible things. Talking about a woman who lived in abject poverty for most of her life, taking care of the poorest of the poor, and everyone was deriding her for not doing it the way they thought it should be done.

Then I witness this thread, and there's hardly a word for Tammy Faye's onstage hysterics, her clown makeup, her lavish lifestyle, and her crocodile tears.

In short, Tammy Faye would have had to have been mentally impaired to not realize they were fleecing their congregation. No rational person could believe that they are best reaching out to the unsaved via palatial mansions, furs, and jewels.

Has she ever publicly asked forgiveness for her participation in PTL? If not, then I grant her no forgiveness. I mean, surely to god if she didn't recognize the error of her ways back then, surely she did since. Right?

But again, I wish the woman no harm. And I don't feel particular pity for her victims. I should, but I just can't. I mean, if someone is dumb enough to send a crying rodeo-clown on TV warbling "His Eye is on the Sparrow" their life savings, then I have a hard time feeling sorry for them.

The reason I react this way is because there was a time in my life I was considering the ministry as a vocation. I had the full backing of my minister and my congregation. I realized I had a blueprint for a comfortable living, and enough connections in the Southern Baptist Convention to assure a prominent placement after seminary.

But then, I had a crisis of faith. For a very long time, I tried to convince myself that I could justify what I was doing, because even if I no longer believed, I was "doing good works" by leading others to Christ.

I have stood in front of 10 people, a hundred, 500, a thousand, 10,000, and 25,000 (twice), asking them to turn their lives over to Jesus Christ. Eventually, I felt like a charlatan and a deceiver. Not quite a false prophet, but certainly not a humble godly messenger either.

Therefore, I could not dedicate my life to it, although it most certainly would have been a quite pleasant and comfortable existence. That time was one of the happiest of my life. I would give anything to be able to "unsee" behind the curtain. The emotion is palpable, and intoxicating, when you have 1000 people in an auditorium, 1/2 of them crying, and knowing that you, however briefly, are being considered a conduit for an Almighty Creator. It also should be humbling, and it is. Take away the humility, and you have the intoxication. This is where it all goes wrong.

I say all this because, in their hearts, no matter how much "good works" they believed they were doing, Jim and Tammy Faye knew, precisely, what they were doing. They knew they were profiting from the faithfulness and fear of their congregants.

I'm a jackass, and yet I had the moral fortitude to not take advantage of the devout. What's their excuse?
posted by Ynoxas at 10:47 AM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


I say con artist or delusional because regardless of scale what they claim cannot be shown to be true. They promise great stuff, conveniently only available after you die, in exchange for people supporting them in this life. That's a con.


failed logic. if they believe it, and they tell you their belief, then it is not a con. also, show me where tammy faye ever promised someone would go to heaven in exchange for supporting her. a lot of people complain about how smug christians can be about their beliefs, but here we have smugness on the other side of the coin. by the way, that stuff you say can not be shown to be true, can not be shown to be false either. you got your hate on, nice. at least poor tammy faye has her love on.
posted by caddis at 10:58 AM on May 11, 2007


Then I witness this thread, and there's hardly a word for Tammy Faye's onstage hysterics, her clown makeup, her lavish lifestyle, and her crocodile tears.

...and people wonder why we gay men love her so? If Tammy Fay didn't exist, John Waters would have had to invent her!
posted by Robert Angelo at 12:03 PM on May 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


She was a saleswoman/a homeshopping host/etc, far more than a conman. She pushed a product, and the worst thing about it wasn't that it was a promise of heaven later, but that it was centered on material things and greed now--it was very 80s and about success and material wealth now because of Jesus and stuff.

She was not at all like Dobson and Robertson, etc. She was more like that Dollar guy on tv now, or that author of The Secret.
posted by amberglow at 12:24 PM on May 11, 2007


I usually make fun of this lady, but my heart goes out to her on this one. She's a great person and that letter was very touching. I'll have a lump in my throat when she passes. No use denying it. Until then, all the best to her.
posted by Roger Davis at 5:18 PM on May 11, 2007


Ynoxas:

Was she sort of crass? Sure. Was she selling snake oil? Sure. But you know what? She was using the SAME snake oil herself.

I don't think she ever was hypocritical about the lavishness of her lifestyle. She was right out there with it. And people ate that shit up. The more ostentatious she got the more her demographic LOVED her.

Look. It's like how during the depression people who had lost everything sought an escape. So they went to the movies and watched rich people dance in tuxedos and drink champagne. They identified with the people that were the LEAST like them - in fact the very rich people that were the reason they lost everything in the first place.

You gotta see: Tammy Faye wasn't fooling anybody. It may not make sense to you or I. But it's the truth.

Don't blame her. Blame goobers who sent her their money. Not that they deserved to be defrauded when it came to Jim Bakkers schemes - but untill then they WANTED Tammy Faye to have their money to do "the lords work" however she saw fit. US prosecutors eventually saw the truth in this as well and it's why SHE was never charged with anything.

Most importantly she was a true believer. She really thought she was helping people.

It's true that greatest evils are perpetrated by people who believe they are "helping" people. But the law didn't find her guilty of any crime.

It's hard for me to hate her when she is so obviously compassionate and reached out to a community of people that had been totally marginalized and vilified as Lepers by the rest of her peers. THAT is, BTW, why she fell from grace. Falwell destroyed her (and Bakker) deliberately.
posted by tkchrist at 5:27 PM on May 11, 2007


caddis You seem to be reading things I didn't write. I don't hate the Bakkers, or even Fallwell or Robertson. I recognize them as con men and thus I view them with a certain disdain, and I feel no urge whatsoever to attempt to hide that disdain, but I don't hate them.

They scare me, I'll admit that too. I've got gay friends, and I've got a couple of gay friends who were beaten by thugs following the hate the religious con men push, so I won't pretend that I'm neutral here. I don't like them. But hate is too strong a term for what I feel.

More to the point, I was, if you'll read, giving the Bakkers some (backhanded) praise. They were/are con men, but at least they didn't preach the hate, and that's something. Especially when you consider that if Jimmy Bakker had gone on a big "the faggots are evil and will burn" rampage it probably would have helped him fight the accusation that he was homosexual.

you wrote: by the way, that stuff you say can not be shown to be true, can not be shown to be false either

That is utterly and completely correct. I cannot prove that this "God" thing the con men keep talking about does not exist. But so what? That's what we call a non falsifiable claim. The fact that I can't prove it is false doesn't make it true, and in the absence of any evidence for that propsiton I'll argue that its non falsifiability is a liability not a benefit.

Look, people can make any number of claims, equally non falsifiable, and you'll reject them out of hand either because they're silly, or repugnant.

Silly: There is a species of superintelligent rabbits who watch us have sex (either with partners or solo) because they're perverted little voyeurs. These super rabbits are immaterial, don't breathe, don't eat, don't excrete, and are completely undetectable. But every time you masturbate there's a huge crowd of them watching and making snide comments to their fellows. You can't prove that this is false, but I'll bet you reject it because its just plain silly.

Repugnant: Right now Hitler's spirit is being rewarded. He gets to rape all the victims of the holocaust and there's nothing they can do about it. Of course, its all spirits, so you can't see it, but its true and its happening right now. You can't prove that this is false either, but I'll bet you reject it because its vile.

So why should I buy the "there's a big invisible man in the sky and if you don't kiss his ass the way the snake oil salesmen tell you to he'll send you to hell where you'll burn forever"? Its got no more proof going for it than the voyeur bunnies, and when you get right down to it its about as silly.

Pollomacho wrote "if you really think that all any church does is "promise great stuff, conveniently only available after you die, in exchange for people supporting them in this life" then you've got some serious cynicism going on [...] Don't sell out the work of that battered women's shelter down the street just because they are run by the Salvation Army and especially not because the director of the shelter may actually earn a salary for doing their work."

Just because its cynical doesn't mean its not true. Also, I never claimed that all *churches* do is sell the get out of hell free snake oil. I claimed that's all the *ministers* do, and it is.

All the social work and whatnot is great, but hardly exclusive to churches and religious groups, and it also is mostly done by non-ministers. The director of a woman's shelter deserves every cent of her salary. If there are ministers out there really working in shelters, or soup kitchens, or whatnot as well as selling their snake oil I'll grant them an excemption from my blanket "all ministers are con men" condemnation.

In my personal experience the ministers tend to be cheerleaders for such things rather than actually doing any work, perhaps you've had a different experience.
posted by sotonohito at 6:09 PM on May 11, 2007


Did I say you hate them? I just said your con men talk was rubbish.
posted by caddis at 6:16 PM on May 11, 2007


OK you have your disdain on. I will take love over disdain anyday.
posted by caddis at 6:27 PM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


Her body's far from cold as of yet, and for some, it's already her Judgment Day. Gotta love it. I can't help but wonder, why in heaven would anyone want to pose as her god? Even for a second?

Ironically, it is the ones who would review this with sarcasm and belittlement who may need it the most, but mileage inevitably varies. Please contemplate the option of turning your SarcasmFilter off for a second and try this on for size. I like to imagine myself as a heartless boor with a gruff exterior and a propensity for telling you youngsters to get off the lawn, but Brave's got a tendency of knocking that attitude down a peg. Brave's not talking about Tammy Faye.. I don't think.. Still, the sentiment echoes here.

Whether whatever pain and suffering Tammy Faye experiences now or since equals or compares to whatever suffering and pain her past actions and inactions may have caused others, it really shouldn't trouble you. God or Fate or Whatever-Suits-You may or may not keep score and insure everyone suffers equally. Personally, I doubt it. I prefer to think of suffering as like the weather. For some it leads to flowers and good harvests. For others it leads to flooding and ruined crops. To each his own.

You can let Tammy Faye's plight trouble you all you wish, but if others disagree with you, your letting it bend you out of shape has nothing to do with them, does it?

We each have our own path. She had her lessons to learn. The people who followed the Bakers way back when had their lessons to learn. I got my path and you got yours. Sometimes paths cross. Sometimes we look over at someone else's path and wonder why the hell are they going in that direction? What stupidity possesses them? And why are those people over there following that person? That person's a snake oil salesman! Why, they're all doomed over there! What idiots!

Have you taken a look at your own path with the same objectivity? There's lessons along the way for each person's path and they ain't all the same lesson, just like they ain't all the same path. Some learn those lessons and some don't. Whether there is a god or not, this spinning rock in space is a school, and it's up to you to learn whatever lessons you choose to learn in your life. If you choose to not learn from a life lesson, accept the F with as much grace as you can muster and move on. Yeah I know. Easier said then done. I'm there myself.

Tammy Faye has brought happiness and joy to some. Pain and sorrow to others. For perhaps most, she's brought little at all, cuz while she walked her path, we walked ours. You can argue all you want, as to which matters more. What lessons may you grok from her memory? What will you take from your knowledge of her existence on this planet? Nothing? Anything? That's entirely your choice. There's no need to throw bitter spices on a soured stomach... unless of course heart burn is your choice as well.

All the rest of this, for you, is more gravy than grave.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:57 PM on May 11, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'll admit to slagging her in the past, but seeing her on the Surreal Life changed my mind about the woman. Her goofy friendship with Ron Jeremy was charming. And I am not ashamed to admit that.

Lately I have been trying to live my life by this wisdom - less sweep the leg, more crane pose. I think Tammy would approve.
posted by vronsky at 10:22 PM on May 11, 2007


But every time you masturbate there's a huge crowd of them watching and making snide comments to their fellows.

I knew it!

I KNEW IT!!!!
posted by The Deej at 12:10 AM on May 12, 2007


ZachsMind re: the linked video.

She's expressing a view rooted in her own middle class existence. When she talks about pain, about suffering, and how a loving god sends them our way for our betterment, she's exposing her own limited thinking. The people in Darfur, for example, who were raped and then murdered by the thousands were not bettered by their suffering.

The woman in the video has chosen not to think of them when she talks about suffering and its deep meaning from a loving god. And that's fine, its her business. Or at least its her business before she makes a video with dramatic piano music in the background and tries to convince me to turn off my brain too.

I won't be sarcastic, you did ask nicely. But I won't agree with you either. Its a weak minded message from a weak minded individual, and I also think its a harmful message. It trivilizes the very real and very meaningless suffering that exists, it turns that pain into a cheesy after school special.

Much worse though, it allows people an out when it comes to confronting the very real problems that cause that pain and suffering. It allows people to think "well, it isn't so bad, after all its all part of God's wonderful and loving plan". So instead of being outraged at the random pain, instead of finding ways to fix it, they start accepting it.

I say no, and I'm done being quiet about it. If a person needs to think that its all part of some loving god's plan that's their business, but it isn't their business when they start trying to spread that lie. We don't need to feel better about the random pain in the universe, we need to find ways to stop it.

If a person is discomforted by the thought of just how horribly others suffer that's good. The discomfort will provide an impetus to stop the suffering, and efforts to wish away that discomfort are, by my way of thinking, very wrong.
posted by sotonohito at 3:58 AM on May 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


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