A prominent Tarrant County televangelist appeared before a worldwide television audience Tuesday to admit that he had an affair with a woman years ago -- and to allege that three people had tried to extort millions of dollars from him to stay quiet about his infidelity.
The Rev. Marcus Lamb, who created Daystar Television Network with his wife, Joni, said he and his wife had healed their marriage and had hoped to keep his adultery private but went public because they would not pay extortionists. The three people demanded $7.5 million, he said.
"They're trying to take our pain and turn it to their gain," said Lamb, during a one-hour live broadcast from Daystar headquarters in Bedford with his wife by his side and supporters surrounding him. "We're not going to take God's money to keep from being humiliated."
A spokesman for the Lambs, Larry Ross, said they went to authorities with their allegations, but he said he could not discuss specifics for fear of interfering with any investigation. He said the extortion attempt was made in the past few weeks.
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Daystar airs some of the highest-profile evangelists in the world, including Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar and Joyce Meyers. The network says it operates more than 70 stations in major U.S. television markets and also broadcasts to more than 200 countries.
During the couple's daily talk show, Celebration, Joni Lamb, 50, described her husband's affair as "an emotional relationship" with a woman that became "an improper relationship." When she learned of his infidelity several years ago, she said she was devastated and prayed to the Holy Spirit, who told her, "He's worth fighting for." She confronted her husband and the two decided to undergo Christian counseling with Fred and Anna Kendall of the Life Languages Institute in Dallas, which specializes in training communicators.
Marcus Lamb, 53, said he took responsibility for the affair by confessing what he had done to his wife's parents and asking some members of the Daystar ministry to help hold him accountable for his promise to stay faithful. "I said, 'Honey, I'll do whatever it takes to heal the hurt and right the wrong," Marcus Lamb said.
Fred Kendall appeared on the broadcast along with his wife and said he advised the Lambs to stay quiet about their marital problems because he feared they would not overcome their troubles if they had to do so in public.
The Lambs' supporters on the broadcast repeatedly described the affair and the extortion plot as an attempt by the devil to discredit the evangelist couple and their ministry. The couple operate Daystar through their interdenominational Word of God Fellowship ministry. "I think this was a direct attack from the devil," Fred Kendall said, although Lamb responded that only he is to blame for his wrongdoing.The Lambs, who have three children, have a home in Colleyville.
They began broadcasting in 1985 in Montgomery, Ala., but the couple said they struggled after sexual scandals and fraud involving televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker undermined public confidence in television ministries. Eventually, the Lambs sold the station and bought one in the Metroplex, launching it in 1993. In late 1997, Daystar Television Network began with that station and two others they had purchased.
By 2003, Daystar had 40 stations and built a studio and headquarters in Bedford, prospering by selling airtime to other evangelists and churches. Marcus Lamb said his ambition was for Daystar to become the largest Christian television network in America, passing rival Trinity Broadcasting Network, whose founders included the Bakkers.
Marcus Lamb also said he kept a copy of Jim Bakker's book, I Was Wrong, on his office book shelf to be mindful of the missteps of other televangelists.
It is unclear which law enforcement agency might be investigating the extortion attempt. Bedford and Colleyille police said they have no investigations involving Daystar or Marcus Lamb. FBI spokesman Mark White said the agency never confirms or denies an investigation. The Texas attorney general also does not acknowledge investigations of any kind, spokesman Tom Kelley said.
Online: Daystar's message to viewers: tinyurl.com/2w7uqzw