SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- PTL founder Jim Bakker was defrocked Wednesday by the Assemblies of God for conduct unbecoming a minister, including a fling with a church secretary and alleged 'bisexual activity.'
Richard Dortch, Bakker's top aide, was also expelled from the church for deceit and concealing Bakker's behavior.
When Bakker resigned from the PTL March 19 and handed the $172-million television and entertainment ministry over to the Rev. Jerry Falwell, he and Dortch also resigned from the charismatic Assemblies of God.
But the Assemblies of God, headquartered here, does not allow ministers merely to resign. The church launched an investigation which could have resulted in quiet acceptance of the resignation or revocation of credentials.
The Rev. G. Raymond Carlson, general superintendent of the church, announced Wednesday that Bakker's credentials were revoked for reasons that 'include conduct unbecoming to a minister based specifically on his confession to a sexual encounter with Jessica Hahn and his alleged misconduct involving bisexual activity.'
Carlson gave no details of the bisexual activity charge -- the first official confirmation of allegations aired on television talk shows two weeks ago.
Falwell, the new chairman of the PTL's sprawling Heritage USA Christian resort and theme park at Fort Mill, S.C., was not immediately available for comment.
Falwell spokesman Mark Demoss said in Lynchburg, Va., that 'I frankly am not sure it (defrocking) will have a major effect on the PTL one way or the other.'
'I think even prior to this, statements that Jim Bakker himself made and statements that Dr. Falwell made seemed to indicate that both agreed that Jim Bakker's ministry ended,' Demoss said.
Charges of consorting with homosexuals and prostitutes and condoning wife-swapping by PTL staffers were raised two weeks ago by the Rev. John Ankerberg, a rival television evangelist. A spokesman for Ankerberg said he would have no comment on Bakker's ouster from the church.
Bakker and his wife Tammy Faye talked briefly with reporters at their Palm Springs, Calif., mansion last week and Bakker categorically denied having anything to do with homosexuals, prostitutes or wife-swappers.
Carlson said Wednesday he has no contact with Bakker, either 'by phone or correspondance,' about the allegations of misconduct or the affair with Hahn.
Dortch was dismissed for 'concealment of information concerning the immoral conduct of a fellow minister,' Carlson said, and for the 'apparent deceit on his part' for concealing the sexual tryst of Bakker's.
'The past few weeks have been a very painful time for our church,' Carlson said. 'The failure of highly visible ministers has created turmoil, dismay, misunderstanding and pain in the body of Christ.
'We are deeply saddened, ashamed and repentant before God for these problems in our church.'
Dortch was instrumental in setting up a $235,000 trust fund for Hahn when she threatened a lawsuit for damages resulting from her encounter with Bakker in a Florida hotel seven years ago.
Dortch became president of PTL when Bakker resigned and hosted the ministry's 'PTL Club' television program in place of the Bakkers. But at a meeting of the PTL board last week, Falwell forced the resignation of Dortch and two other Bakker supporters, cut off the Bakkers' $1.6 million salary and took firm control of the PTL ministry.