Jim Bakker Claims Not Letting Him Sell Silver Poison Violates His Religious Freedom

Snake Oil & General Woo

Back in March, Republican Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt sued televangelist Jim Bakker and Morningside Church Productions, Inc., for claiming on air that the colloidal silver products he was selling on his website could cure a variety of ailments, including COVID-19 and HIV. Now, Bakker is asking a judge to dismiss that lawsuit, saying that not allowing him to sell you poison is a violation of his First Amendment rights and his religious freedom. In fact, Bakker claims that any product he sells on his television show is "divinely inspired" and therefore protected.

(To be fair, Bakker did once claim that God sent him a message to let him know that "things are happening" and people should therefore buy a bunch of his Mexican Fiesta food buckets. Oh, to be a fly on the wall during the divine "Mexican Fiesta food buckets" convo.)

Bakker is being represented by former Democratic Missouri governor Jay Nixon, who claims Bakker is being persecuted for being a Christian, as is wont to happen in a country where 71 percent of the population identifies as Christian.


Via The New York Times:

"Jim Bakker is being unfairly targeted by those who want to crush his ministry and force his Christian television program off the air," Nixon said in a statement. "The video recording of The Jim Bakker Show clearly shows the allegations are false. Bakker did not claim or state that Silver Solution was a cure for COVID-19." [...]

Nixon said Schmitt's lawsuit violated Bakker's constitutional right to free speech, as well as the Missouri Constitution and the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act. He said silver products are commonly sold at stores and online.

"Targeting a Christian pastor, who has been using and offering the product for the past 10 years, is not supported by the facts or the law," Nixon said.

Nixon is wrong. While Bakker did not personally state that Silver Solution was a cure for COVID-19, his official Silver Solution spokeswoman said that it could. This is not unlike the part of an infomercial wherein the host of the infomercial asks a knife inventor whether or not the knife can really cut through solid steel.

Here he is asking her about whether or not it cures HIV.

Call me crazy, but it seems highly unlikely that a Republican AG in Missouri would be targeting Jim Bakker for being a Christian.

The motion to dismiss included a statement from Bakker's adopted daughter Maricela Woodall, who is the chief operating officer of Bakker's Morningside Church ministry.

Via Right Wing Watch:

Our sincerely-held religious beliefs require us to encourage our partners to prepare spiritually, mentally, and physically for the second-coming of Christ, and assist them in doing so by bringing experts to our broadcasts to teach how to accomplish this goal. An integral part of this expressive ministry and practice, as well as the doctrinal teachings of our religion, includes educating our partners concerning, and offer them, products, including Silver Solution, that we believe have been made available to this generation by God. We believe in providing practical tools and supplies to prepare for the end-times, in connection with the solicitation of funds for the ministry.

Each of the products offered on The Jim Bakker Show, including Silver Solution, are products that Pastor Bakker and Morningside feel divinely inspired to offer to the world. Such offerings are an integral part of Morningside's mission and a vital part of how we interact with our partners to spread the Word of God.

Educating our partners concerning, and offering them, products, including Silver Solution, in connection with the solicitation of funds for the ministry serves as an expression of our religious beliefs, an effort to inculcate, and an important religious practice of itself.

Governmental action that penalizes, or prevents, or seeks to penalize or prevent, our offering of Silver Solution in connection with our commenting upon or discussion of current events, including COVID-19, during The Jim Bakker Show, or to censor or punish, or require additions to, the content of the sermons delivered by Pastor Bakker, pastoral staff, and guests, restricts our religiously-motivated speech, as well as our actions or refusals to act that are substantially motivated by our religious beliefs.

I am willing to buy Bakker's argument that drinking silver crap that turns you blue and believing that it cures VD and coronavirus is a part of his religion. [I'm not. — Editrix] But if it's a sacrament, shouldn't he be handing it out for free? I mean, they don't charge people for communion wine, do they? It's not like you go up to the priest and he gives you your wine and wafer and says "That'll be five dollars, thank you!"

The issue here isn't even that Bakker is selling silver crap that turns you blue [yes it is — Editrix], it's that he is making unproven claims about it. Instead of saying "Drink my colloidal silver because Jesus loves it when you have blue skin and kidney damage," he's saying "Buy this colloidal silver from me, because this 'expert' says it cures HIV and COVID-19 and also everything else on earth." He's not making a religious claim, he's making a medical claim. Religion doesn't exempt anyone from making non-religious claims about a product they are selling.

He's also not the only one in trouble for making this claim about colloidal silver. Alex Jones, who is not a religious leader, was also told he had to stop selling it and making those claims. Is his religious freedom being violated, too?

Selling a product by claiming it will cure or prevent a virus when it does not do that puts people in danger — more people, frankly, than just the idiots buying it. There has to be a line drawn between "illegal shit you can do if you say it's your religion" and "things you still can't do even if you say it's your religion," and this ought to be one of those things.

[New York Times]

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. In addition to her work at Wonkette, she also has a biweekly column at Dame. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse

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