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WATCHING OUT PEOPLE

Renowned for her message of love, accep- tance and prosperity, Tammy Faye became inseparable from her indelible eyelashes, her idiosyncratic singing, and her eagerness to embrace people from all walks of life. Easily the more likable of the two, she was a woman who talked the talk and walked the walk, and her signature style followed her everywhere she went. However, like any quick rise to the top, it wasn’t long before financial improprieties, scheming rivals, and scandal toppled the Bakker’s carefully constructed empire. And when it all crashed and burned, it was before a nationwide televised audience who lapped it up. Instantly recognizable with her iconic makeup and larger-than-life personality, Tammy Faye’s face was plastered across every tabloid in the grocery checkout line – but this time the headlines weren’t always in her favour. But that wasn’t for long. In a world where powerful men, religious or otherwise, inevitably escape scandal with little to no consequences, Tammy Faye stood apart. Unlike her no good cheating ’n’ lying

husband, she never turned away from her faith or forswore her kind and loving version of God for a fire and brimstone replacement. Her heart remained open to the experiences of others, and she rose above her transgressions and evolved beyond tabloid stardom. Her fol- lowers knew that behind all the clothing and makeup was real humanity. On their show, Tammy Faye had always chal- lenged her viewers by inviting guests who might be considered controversial to the av- erage bible-basher. She encouraged her viewers to show compassion and empathy, showing how people whose beliefs and lives seemed foreign were actually not so different. In a key scene in the film, Tammy Faye is seen in interaction with Southern Baptist pastor and fellow televangelist, Jerry Falwell, well known for his fervent homophobia and bigotry. We see her responding to Falwell’s accusations that “feminists and homosexuals”, among other enemies of the religious right, are ruining the fabric of the United States. “I don’t think of them as homosexuals. I just think of them as other human beings that I love,” Tammy Faye says.

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