Falwell Calls Bakkers’ Pay ‘Horrendous’
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) _ Television evangelist Jerry Falwell calls reports that Jim and Tammy Bakker received salary and bonuses topping $1.5 million last year ″horrendous,′ ′ and he predicts the ″reckless decisions″ of previous PTL leadership could hurt contributions to the ministry.
The Charlotte Observer reported that Jim Bakker, who served as PTL chairman and president before resigning a month ago because of a sex scandal, and Bakker’s wife received nearly $1.6 million last year and $640,000 more in the first three months of 1987.
Falwell, the new head of the PTL ministry, said the figures reported by the Observer were ″essentially correct.″
″I personally think that the compensation is horrendous,″ Falwell said Saturday in an interview with the newspaper. ″I don’t think any reasonable person could believe these salaries are acceptable. In my opinion, no ministry in America pays pastors and staffs at this level. In my opinion, this information could hurt contributions to PTL substantially.″
In addition to the money reportedly paid to the Bakkers, Richard Dortch, Bakker’s top deputy and now PTL’s president, received $350,000 last year, the Observer reported. Bakker’s personal aide received $360,000 and his executive secretary $160,000, according to a source with access to ministry records.
″Clearly, someone has made some reckless decisions in recent years,″ Falwell added.
He confirmed Saturday that he had ordered all bonuses and other PTL payments besides regular salaries to be halted. Falwell has said PTL will continue to pay the Bakkers a salary, although no figure has been revealed.
Falwell said his salary from his Lynchburg, Va., ministry is $100,000 a year, and said he is declining to be paid for his work at PTL.
PTL, with about 2,000 employees, reported $129 million in revenues last year.
Falwell said salaries should be the top priority at the April 28 meeting of PTL’s new board, named when Falwell took over PTL at Bakker’s request.
The Bakkers - out of town and off the air for all but a few days in January, February and March - were given bonuses totaling about $470,000 in that period, the newspaper quoted an unidentified source as saying.
″That’s been very shocking to me. There seems to have been an acceleration of bonus payments these first three months of this year, almost in anticipation of some dramatic happening,″ Falwell said.
″I hope that is not true. That would disturb the board greatly.″
Bakker, 47, an Assemblies of God minister, stepped down March 19. He admitted a 1980 extramarital sexual encounter with and later payment to the woman, Jessica Hahn.
Falwell said members of the new PTL board will be paid $18,000 a year.