FORT MILL, S.C. — Defrocked televangelist Jim Bakker's personal security guard walked off the job in protest Wednesday after Bakker's wife, Tammy Faye, in a rambling, teary-eyed press conference, vowed to defy an eviction notice and stay put in the couple's plush lakeside "parsonage" in nearby Tega Cay.
Don Hardister, the PTL chief of security who has played spokesman as well as personal protector for the Bakkers since they resigned last March, said he drew the line when the Bakkers began contemplating a lawsuit to retain ownership of a home purchased and improved with more than $400,000 in charitable donations.
"I can't go along with it," Hardister said. "I don't agree with them pursuing lawsuits to keep the house."
Hardister made his comments by telephone, shortly after Tammy Faye Bakker lashed out at the Rev. Jerry Falwell. Speaking to reporters, who have been staking out the Tega Cay home ever since the couple returned from their Palm Springs exile last week, Tammy Bakker accused the new PTL chairman of trying "to take our home away," selling off her son's toys, giving away her dogs and burying her record albums with a bulldozer.
Set the Stage
Her comments appeared to set the stage for an open confrontation between the couple and the new Falwell-appointed management of the PTL ministry, from which Jim Bakker resigned after admitting a tryst with a church secretary.
"I hope that Jerry Falwell never has to suffer the way he's made us suffer," Tammy Bakker tearfully told reporters. "I wake up in the morning wishing they'd killed us, and Jim does too. It would have been better if they'd just put a bullet in us.
"They took Jamie's little car his Daddy had bought him for Christmas and sold it at auction. . . . They also took two of our dogs and sent them to the dog pound. My little girl called California screaming and crying and sobbing and said, 'Mom, they took our dogs.'
"They keep threatening us they're going to take our home away," she added. "We're going to get a lawyer, and we're going to try to keep our home. . . . Once again, the children keep crying, saying, 'Daddy, please don't let them take our house away.' "
The Bakkers have two children, Jamie, an 11-year-old boy, and an 18-year-old married daughter, Tammy Sue.
Falwell could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but Falwell aide Mark DeMoss called Tammy Bakker's charges "ludicrous."
"Those allegations I'm embarrassed to even stand here and answer," he said. "They don't warrant a response. It's long since passed sensible. . . . We're done playing games."
DeMoss said earlier that the Bakkers have refused to communicate with PTL leaders since returning to South Carolina.
"Our concern is not so much that they move out but just that they communicate with us," he said.
The Bakkers apparent new hard-line stand proved too much for Hardister, who had been counseling the couple to quietly negotiate a settlement of the dispute.
"I just lost my effectiveness in getting my views across (to the Bakkers) and steering them the way I felt things should go," Hardister said.
But Hardister also indicated that his anguish went deeper, saying he has started to have serious doubts about the Bakkers' lavish life style of Mercedes-Benzes and expensive homes.