IFAS | Freedom Writer | March/April 1991 | bakker.html

Bakker to be resentenced

A federal appeals court threw out the 45-year prison term imposed on evangelist Jim Bakker and ordered that he be resentenced because the sentencing judge had improperly emphasized religion. In sentencing Bakker, federal district judge Robert "Maximum Bob " Potter, in Charlotte, North Carolina, said "Those of us who do have a religion' are sick of being saps for money grubbing preachers and priests." Bakker's lawyers successfully argued that those remarks were an abuse of the judge's discretion and violate d due process of the law.

The federal appeals court said, "Our Constitution, of course, does not require a person to surrender his or her religious beliefs upon the assumption of judicial office. Courts however, cannot sanction sentencing procedures that create the perception of t he bench as a pulpit from which judges announce their personal sense of religiosity and simultaneously punish defendants for offending it."

© 1998 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.