A Connecticut-based liberal Christian group is claiming another win in its campaign to get the Missouri-based Jim Bakker Show off the air.
Faithful America's deplatforming campaign began after a mid-February Bakker Show segment in which the Branson-area televangelist promoted a "silver sol" product that a show guest claimed can "eliminate" coronaviruses from the human body.
In response to the February broadcast, which it called "misleading," Faithful America began a signature campaign aiming to get platforms like streaming service Roku and satellite company DirecTV to remove the Bakker show from their lineups.
The group's campaigns leader, Rev. Nathan Empsall, told the News-Leader this week that more than 16,000 people signed the petition and that GEB, a Christian TV network tied to Tulsa-based Oral Roberts University, has now dropped the Bakker show. It appears to be the second network to drop Bakker since the Faithful America campaign began.
On Wednesday, the Bakker show did not appear on GEB's online programming lineup, which includes upbeat content from Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen, along with other popular evangelical media ministries. On the same day, Jim Bakker Show's online listing for where to watch the broadcast also did not include GEB.
An April 28 email provided to the News-Leader by Faithful America states that "GEB previously made the decision to discontinue the airing of the Jim Bakker program. The process of removing the program from the channel is anticipated to be completed within the next 25-days."
The email was signed by Laura Bishop, Oral Roberts University vice president of advancement. Bishop oversees GEB, according to the university website.
ORU's director of university relations, Stephanie Hill, confirmed the contents of the email late Wednesday and said that Jim Bakker Show is no longer broadcast on GEB. Hill declined to make any additional comment.
GEB previously aired the Bakker show, according to a letter sent by global telecoms giant AT&T to Faithful America in early April. Faithful America later shared the letter with the News-Leader.
In that letter, AT&T said that it asked GEB and six other TV networks distributed over AT&T's DirecTV satellite company to "carefully review" whether they should continue carrying the Jim Bakker Show.
AT&T has not yet responded to a News-Leader request for comment about GEB but has previously said it had no comment beyond the contents of its letter.
In recent weeks, Bakker has gone on air to denounce what he views as an "attack from the left," which he chalks up to retaliation for his ardent support of President Donald Trump.
“We supported the president, and so they want to destroy me,” Bakker said on one recent broadcast.
Earlier this week, former Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat who also served as Missouri attorney general from 1993 to 2009, came to Bakker's defense in a March lawsuit filed by current Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt over the "silver sol" flap.
Nixon and Bakker's other attorneys argue that the "silver sol" controversy is not a matter of protecting consumers from misleading product claims, but a First Amendment issue: Bakker is a church pastor, they say, who has the right to solicit funds on a religious TV broadcast for church purposes. They also argue that the attorney general's lawsuit violates Bakker's Fifth Amendment right to due process.
"This is a very, very lean case as far as evidence," Nixon told the News-Leader Monday. He said Bakker's operation had "immediately complied" with government orders to discontinue sales of "silver sol."
The News-Leader reached out to Bakker's Springfield-based attorneys late Wednesday seeking comment on developments with GEB but has not yet heard back.
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While the U.S. government recently approved antiviral drug remdesivir for COVID-19 treatment, and scientists are racing to develop a preventative vaccine for the disease, health experts say there is not a scientifically proven treatment that "cures" COVID-19.