Roots run deep on Jim and Tammy Faye Bakkers’ impact in Charlotte and Fort Mill

North Carolina

FORT MILL, S.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) — It’s a story that is made for the movies, and now it’s just that.

“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”, released Friday, chronicles the rise and fall of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, dramatizing, in large detail, what happened with the televangelist couple in Charlotte and Fort Mill, how they started, and how scandal would eventually bring down the empire they built.

But between all that, there are stories of the faithful, and those who knew the story for themselves.

“I was a PTL singer,” said Jan Morgan Ison. “I was a backup singer for Tammy Faye. There were six of us.”

Ison was there in the mid-to-late 1980s, in the heyday, and right at the end.

“We we’re living what we were believing, and I always got that from everybody,” said Ison. “Jim and Tammy, especially included.”

Ison counts herself among the faithful, and she looks back on her time with the Bakers and their PTL ministry with fondness.

Ison said she knows what people will likely see in theaters; the good, bad, and ugly parts of the Bakkers’ story, but she said she knows what she saw when she was there.

The movie’s story centers on Tammy Faye.

“(She was) always high-energy. Concerned about how she looked,” she said. “Tammy Faye was always on. I never really saw her off.”

Financial and sexual scandal are what many people remember about PTL and the Bakker story.

For Ison, though, it’s different. She remembers the people, the atmosphere, and a genuine effort and belief, collectively, that what was being done was for the greater good.

Ison said she was ultimately let go as financial issues started showing up within the ministry.  She is now president of a video production studio in Charlotte.

Ison said the real story from her time there, and what she saw, is one of faith, redemption, and love.

“I want to see how she was portrayed, how PTL was portrayed.  I want to see if it is encouraging.  You want it to be sympathetic,” said Ison.

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