Disgraced televangelist Jim Bakker was sentenced to prison for using his followers' faith to sell them goods of dubious value, so it's odd that now that he's free he's using warnings about the coming End Times to sell fans thousands of dollars of survival gear. Bakker built a Pentecostal empire in the 1980s before he was convicted of fraud for asking his followers to donate lots of money to become "lifetime members" of his organization, a deal that came with a vacation packages that could never be redeemed. With that history, you'd think he'd want to be very careful about how he makes his money now. On his website, Bakker sells all kinds of things, from jewelry to books to DVDs to, as Talking Points Memo's Nick R. Martin noticed, "Survival Items to tide you through the End Times when apparently all supplies will be packaged in buckets, like his "Bakkers Dozen Emergency Fuel Buckets" for $800. We assume his customers are happy with whatever items they get in return. But we can't help but notice he's charging a lot of money for Doomsday gear.
We've never really understood the point of preparing to live through the Apocalypse. Isn't the whole point of being a believer during the Rapture is you'll get sucked up to Heaven while the heathens are left behind? Why would you want to stick around surviving anyway? Nonethless, if you're of the inclincation to expect the world to end in the foreseeable future, we urge you to shop for your survivalist gear anywhere else but Bakker's site. Consider the following some tips to surviving the end of the world on a budget.
Bakker is clear that you should buy his food products not just for the health benefits. On his March 1, 2012 show, Bakker warned that Jesus is coming so you'd better buy some wheat. He spoke of students taste-testing the product, but mentioned there was a more important reason to buy:
The taste tests done by the students was proof positive, whole wheat can be delicious. Morningside’s new products’, including the Old Mill Inn Winter Wheat, is teaching people to continue to stockpile for the upcoming days. Jesus is coming and there could be days that are filled with food and water shortages, making preparations now is essential for survival.
Morningside is some kind of compound with a hotel, chapel, store, and media training center in Blue Eye, Missouri. Bakker makes it sound like the Old Mill Inn Winter Wheat Buckets are made there, but we're not sure. Some of the other food supplies are sold elsewhere. Another company's product, the "Food For Health Emergency Food Supply 200 Servings," is $200 at Bakker's store.
The "Jerry Jones Special" is a $2,000 kit that comes with one bucket each of freeze-dried raspberries, strawberries, corn, green beans, tomato flakes, plus five "fire now" buckets, 12 buckets containing 200 meals, six buckets of white rice, six buckets of pinto beans, and three buckets of wheat. (Unless you're buying in Canada. In that case, no wheat.) It makes 3,300 servings of food or 480 meals. That sounds like so much food!
Bakker sells a bracelet which, "in an emergency situation" (like if you need to tie two buckets together), can be unraveled into 14-feet of 360-pound test cord for $20 apiece.
Buy It for Less: You won't be rockin' a super-stylish paracord bracelet (although you could probably make your own if that's your thing), but if paracord is vital a part of your Doomsday survival plans, buy 100-feet of the even more durable 550-pound test stuff over at SurplusPlanet360.com for a cheap $9.95.
Bakker is far from alone in cashing in on people's fears of the End Times. "Look around. Why has the price of food Doubled in the last year? Why is it still rising?… DOESN'T IT LOOK LIKE FOOD IS GOING TO BE MORE VALUABLE THAN GOLD,SILVER OR DIAMONDS? THINK ABOUT IT!!!" urges the eBay vendor of a 53-variety seed pack, selling for $99.83. "The NIA predicts that by the year 2015 the dollar will be so hyper inflated that this nation will literally shut down, if this happens the only people who will have a decent shot at holding out will be those who PLANNED AHEAD, the Bible says that 'A wise man sees danger ahead and prepares himself,'" says a vendor selling a 60-variety seed pack for the bargain price of $19.99. "The most prepared country in the world for earthquakes is Japan and some of their citizens had to wait over 7 days before aid reached them. You cannot depend on the local agencies to take care of you," explains the seller of a $44 pack of vacuum-sealed beans. But as far as we know, these anonymous eBay sellers haven't been the public face of defrauding old ladies by talking about Christ.
In 1998, Bakker wrote a book titled, Prosperity and the Coming Apocalypse in which he described how he learned the "prosperity evangelism" in which he promised his followers would get rich if they sent him money (and thus made him rich). You can still buy it for $20 on his website. "In a nutshell," he wrote, "the new message was this: the era of prosperity is over; perilous times are upon us, the end of the age is at hand." We can't speak to the fate of the world, but we do know this: if you pay what Bakker charges for survival gear, will end your personal prosperity a whole lot sooner.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.