Sat January 15, 2011
Author Interviews

Jim And Tammy Faye's Son Finds His Own 'Grace'

Jay Bakker has a very famous last name. As the son of disgraced evangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, their reputation usually precedes his own.

As Bakker says in his new book, that hasn't been easy -- especially since he decided to follow in the family business and become a pastor himself.

Bakker co-founded Revolution Church in 1994 and now runs the New York City branch, which meets every Sunday afternoon in a local Brooklyn bar.

A church that meets in a bar is pretty atypical, but then again, so is Bakker, who counts Marlon Brando as one of his fashion icons and sports a body covered in tattoos -- including one tattoo that reads, "Religion Destroys."

"Religion can be a very dangerous thing," Bakker explains to NPR's Guy Raz. "It's a constant reminder to me to be careful."

In Fall To Grace: A Revolution of God, Self, and Society, Bakker makes it clear it's grace, not religion, that he believes in.

"Grace is unconditional acceptance," he says. "It's just that moment where you're able to say, 'I am accepted by a power greater than myself.'"

Bakker's unorthodox beliefs lead him to controversial social stances that have branded him as a heretic in many Christian circles. One of those stances includes fighting for gay rights.

He believes gay marriage should be legalized and is very active within the LGBTQ community. The Bible, he says, has been misconstrued by many Christians and the text needs to be re-examined to include these important civil rights.

"I believe that the church is unfortunately still the 'tail light,' as Martin Luther King used to say," Bakker says, referring to the Civil Rights leader's musing that religious communities usually seem behind on matters of social justice. "I'm hoping that we can become the headlight one day." Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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