Idol Chatter

His congregation meets weekly at a bar, he runs operations out of an auto body shop, and holds staff meetings at a local cafe. After some angry teen years and recovery from drug addition, Jay Bakker, son of the infamous, pioneering televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye, is now following in his father’s footsteps–sort of. He’s started a church of his own–the Revolution Church–and is the star of the Sundance Channel’s new six-part series, “One Punk Under God: The Prodigal Son of Jim and Tammy Faye,” a docu-reality show that chronicles Jay’s efforts to get disaffected youth to follow Jesus in some seriously nontraditional ways.

In Episode 1, which aired last week, viewers Jay and his wife of seven years, Amanda (a striking woman covered in tattoos, with bright, dyed-red hair), hang out at home, lovingly deal with his mother’s struggle with fourth-stage cancer, and make a pilgrimage to Heritage Christian Resort–the Christian “Disneyland” that his father founded, and which thrived as the largest Christian theme park in its day (and has yet to be duplicated in size and style). Jay is refreshingly honest about his own personal struggles with growing and running his ministry–a ministry that truly opens its arms to those people society tends to reject (Goth-like youth with multiple piercings seem to populate Revolution’s services).

But most fascinating is Jay’s openness as he reflects about life in the wake of his parents’ shockingly public scandals–and the obvious affection and tenderness he holds for both Mom and Dad despite it all. The Christian ethic of forgiveness is clearly alive in this articulate, driven young pastor.

Five more episodes remain in this engaging series–which airs Wednesday nights–about Jay, Amanda, and their fellow Revolution staffers (including Stu, an older, perhaps alternative father figure for Jay, who now keeps the Atlanta branch of Revolution going). For those curious to attend Revolution, the church is now based out of Brooklyn, N.Y., but maintains outposts in Atlanta and Charlotte.

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