This is Jimmy Bakker and what the press love to describe as the “heavily mascaraed Tammy Faye”. Not just TV evangelicals brought to ground by a double complicity – Jerry Falwell’s will to money and Jimmy Schwaggart’s will to power – but Jimmy and Tammy as the first, and perhaps the best, practioners of the New American religious creed of post-Godism. TV evangelicals, then, is all about the creation of a postmodern God: not religion under the sign of panoptic power, but the hyper-God of all the TV evangelicals as so fascinating and so fungible, because this is where God has disappeared as a grand referent, and reappeared as an empty sign-system, waiting to be filled, indeed demanding to be filled, if contributions to the TV evangelicals are any measure, by all the waste, excess and sacrificial burnout of Heritage Park, U.S.A.
An excremental God, therefore, for an American conservative culture disappearing into its own burnout, detritus, and decomposition. For Jimmy and Tammy’s disgrace is just a momentary mise-en-scene as the soap opera of a panic god reverses field on itself, and everyone waits for what is next in the salvation myth, American-style: Jimmy and Tammy in their struggle through a period of dark tribulations and hard trials on their way to asking forgiveness (on Ted Koppel’s Nightline show on ABC).
As Jimmy Bakker once said: “In America, you have to be excessive to be successful.” Or, as Tammy likes to sign out all her TV shows: “Just remember. Jesus loves you. He really, really does.” (Arthur Kroker & Marilouise Kroker, Body invaders: panic sex in America, New World Perspectives, CultureTexts Series, Montreal, 2001, p. 17)