2012 Straight for Equality in Faith Communities Award:
Rev. Jay Bakker
Jay Bakker is a 36-year-old pastor who grew up witnessing both the good and bad of the church.
His parents are Jim and Tammy Faye, ministers-turned-TV-hosts who helped start both the Trinity Broadcasting Network and the 700 Club in the 1970’s, and later founded the PTL (Praise The Lord) Club. At the height of their popularity, they pastored the largest church in the country—until their lives were changed by one of the biggest scandals in American history. For the first time, Jay was exposed to the dark underbelly of religion, an experience that stays with him to this day.
After witnessing firsthand the excommunicative treatment his family received from the church, Jay wanted nothing to do with God. Eventually, Jay was able to conquer his demons and made a personal decision to find out who God really was. What he discovered floored him—God wasn’t some judgmental, condemning deity sitting on a throne waving an angry fist in the direction of sinners—rather, he was an understanding God offering his gift of love and grace with no strings attached.
As a result of this discovery, Jay started a church for those who feel rejected by traditional approaches to Christianity; this church is called Revolution. The idea behind Revolution is to show all people the unconditional love and grace of God without any reservations. In the desire to bypass geographical boundaries, all Services are recorded and posted on the Revolution Church website to create an “online church for people who have given up on church.”
In addition to pastoring Revolution, Jay travels the country speaking to churches and organizations, encouraging them to reach out to the lost and hurting. His goal is to return to the grassroots of Christianity founded on inclusion, love and grace; his heart is helping people realize that God loves them no matter what.
Jay has spoken at numerous festivals and churches as well as appeared both on television (One Punk Under God, Larry King Live, 20/20, Good Morning America) and in print (Rolling Stone, The New York Times, Time, FHM, Charisma, Relevant). He lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and has authored the books Son of a Preacher Man: My Search for Grace in the Shadows (2001) and Fall to Grace (2011).