A televangelist accused of selling an unproven product for treating coronavirus on his TV show says he is being censored.
NBC Bay Area first reported on Jim Bakker in March, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned his company to stop marketing "Silver Solution," an unapproved product, and threatening legal action if the company continued.
At the time, we asked Bakker's company, Morningside Church Productions, to comment on the matter. It did not respond until this week, telling NBC Bay Area: "We want to make sure you have all the facts."
Earlier this year, Bakker interviewed a guest on his television program, The Jim Bakker Show, discussing Silver Solution as a possible treatment for coronavirus.
"You’re saying Silver Solution would be effective?" Baker asked the guest, who was identified as a doctor.
"Well, let’s just say it hasn’t been tested on this strain of the coronavirus, but it’s been tested on other strains of the coronavirus and has been able to eliminate it within 12 hours," the guest said.
The FDA later sent Bakker a warning letter, saying he was promoting "unapproved new drugs." Missouri's attorney general filed suit, accusing Bakker of "selling [a] fake 'coronavirus cure.'"
Bakker's producers now say they're being censored. Morningside Church Productions contends the show is a religious service, and that the U.S. Constitution shields what is said on the program. The company makes that argument in a motion its lawyers filed this month to dismiss the Missouri case.
Attorneys for Bakker say the lawsuit "... is arbitrarily, subjectively, and discriminatorily targeting Pastor Bakker and Morningside for alleged ‘advertising’ in connection with their religious Practice."
Former Missouri governor Jay Nixon is acting as Bakker's attorney. In a written statement, Nixon said Bakker is being "unfairly targeted" by those who want to force his church and TV program to shut down.
"The video recording of The Jim Bakker Show clearly shows the allegations are false," Nixon said. "Bakker did not claim or state that Silver Solution was a cure for COVID-19. This case is about religious freedom."
NBC Bay Area checked with the FDA. "Silver Solution" is still not approved for use with COVID-19. In fact, nothing is. The FDA says “...there are currently no vaccines to prevent or drugs to treat COVID-19 approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.”
On May 8, Bakker's wife Lori Bakker said Jim is recovering from a stroke, and he remains on a sabbatical from his TV show.