“God didn’t make any junk”

So said Tammy Faye Messner (once Tammy Faye Bakker) once when asked her opinion on homosexuals and whether they could be part of the Christian family. She died yesterday of cancer aged 65.

I’m not a fan of televangelists as a breed. That’s not just because I’m an atheist. The judgemental authoritarianism seems to be generally too close to the surface, and too many of them have been proven fleecers of their flock for person gain, persuasive hypocrites and liars motivated by greed and hunger for fame.

The general impression of Tammy Faye seems to be that she was a truly warmhearted and generous woman, who although she enjoyed fame wasn’t actively involved in the fraudulent fleecing of the PTL Ministries flock, but who still must have been deliberately closing her eyes to the shadiness of Jim Bakker’s dealings rather than being truly totally ignorant.

That’s a pretty huge flaw, let’s say it. But at least she never bought in to the party line of bigotry towards same sex attraction that so many other evangelical Christians, whether they’ve got a TV station broadcasting it or not, spout every day. Good for you, Tammy Faye.

Categories: ethics & philosophy, Life, religion

6 replies

  1. She may not have “bought in to the party line of bigotry towards same sex attraction that so many other evangelical Christians” but she sure shared in the profits of that bigotry. Those eyelashes didn’t pay for themselves.

  2. I made the point in the post, Bill, that I thought she had some huge blind spots regarding the Bakker/PTL lifestyle she was living, and that she almost certainly chose to overlook them rather than being truly oblivious.
    She still seems to have had a genuinely warm heart, and a very accepting one. That’s rare in televangelical circles.

  3. I guess I believe the two are mutually exclusive. She could not have had this “pretty huge flaw” while still having genuinely warm heart. The latter would have prevented the former. Again, just my opinion, I didn’t know the woman personally, and have no claim to authority on this issue.

  4. I didn’t know her either, Bill, but I find your view of human nature overly simplistic. People can be blind and selfish in some areas and perceptive and kind in others. People are complicated.

  5. I don’t think I am overly simplistic (obviously). I think you are wrong. I don’t believe that it is possible for anyone to be as involved in the televangelist movement as she was to be unaware that the profits came from exploiting hatred of gays, atheists, and anyone of the “others”. That hatred is the core of the movement, it is not some side effect.
    It is not that I think that people cannot be blind to their own faults, or hold contradictory moral positions. It is that I don’t think Tammy Faye was as naive, innocent or self-deluded as you think she was.

  6. The televangelist movement as a whole is indeed a festering pit of bigotry. I made it clear that I share that view in the post. I don’t think anyone as clearly clever in many ways as Tammy Faye could be genuinely ignorant about that, but I’m very aware of the power of cognitive dissonance too.
    Maybe I am entirely wrong about her level of involvement in all the PTL scams. However, if she was that unprincipled generally, then it was perversely even more admirable of her to refuse to buy into the standard evangelical gay-hating.

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