Former Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, has sided with Jim Bakker amid a lawsuit against the controversial televangelist over claims that he peddled a fake cure for coronavirus.
Nixon is serving as an attorney for Bakker after the office of Republican Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a lawsuit in March when the televangelist promoted a “Silver Solution” product claiming to have helped cure other strains of coronavirus.
The former governor and state attorney general argued in a statement Monday that he believed his client is innocent.
“Jim Bakker is being unfairly targeted by those who want to crush his ministry and force his Christian television program off the air,” stated Nixon, as reported by local media.
“The video recording of the Jim Bakker Show clearly shows the allegations are false. Bakker did not claim or state that Silver Solution was a cure for COVID-19. This case is about religious freedom.”
Nixon submitted a motion to dismiss the state’s lawsuit on Monday in the Circuit Court of Stone County claiming that the lawsuit against Bakker violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The motion argued that the lawsuit “burdens” the religious practice of Bakker and Morningside Church Productions and lacks “a compelling governmental interest.”
“The Attorney General asks the Court to determine which religious doctrines and sermons preached by a pastor from the pulpit concerning the interpretation and application of current world events to his religion, and his views on ecclesiastical matters, are sufficiently ‘true’ to evade the proscriptions of secular law,” stated the motion.
“Such an action by the Attorney General is as unprecedented as it is improper; neither the United States Constitution nor the Missouri Constitution permit this suit to be maintained.”
During an episode of “The Jim Bakker Show” that aired in February, Bakker and his guest, Dr. Sherrill Sellman, claimed that a Silver Solution product could cure strains of the coronavirus.
“This influenza, which is now circling the globe, you’re saying that Silver Solution would be effective?” Bakker asked Sellman, a naturopathic doctor.
“Well, let’s say it hasn’t been tested against 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,” replied Sellman.
The broadcast was met with backlash from both state and federal officials, with the Food and Drug Administration and the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James sending cease-and-desist letters to Bakker.
“The 2019 novel coronavirus poses serious consequences to public health, and consumers are concerned as to how they can best protect themselves and their families,” wrote James, as reported by The Hill in March.
“Your show’s segment may mislead consumers as to the effectiveness of the Silver Solution product in protecting against the current outbreak.”
In an interview with Ozarks First in March, Schmitt said that Bakker and Morningside Church Productions have “an opportunity, in a pretty short timeframe, to answer certainly the allegations that we’ve made and it’d be our hope that they no longer represent that this 'Silver Solution' can cure the coronavirus.”
Bakker is known for selling various religious and health products in response to disasters and potential End Times scenarios.