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The End Is Near: Grab Your Sack

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Televangelist Jim Bakker's been scarin' the hell out of us God-fearin' Missourians lately with talk of Judgment Day. Bakker now broadcasts his apocalypse-heavy show from Branson, the headquarters of second-chance careers. Among the products Bakker pushes on his show is a $150 emergency backpack that was put together by his wife, Lori. The idea is to slip the padded straps of the blue-and-black bag over your shoulders just before the Second Coming. The Pitch called Bakker's hotline to learn more. Here's an excerpt of a conversation with Fiona, a native of Scotland who works at the Jim Bakker Show call center in South Carolina.

Pitch: Could you tell me about the Revelation Generation Backpack?

Fiona: Sure, uh, you get a radio-flashlight in there with a siren, a whistle, a thermal blanket. There's some little cups and some containers and a fork, spoon and knife, like an all-in-one army-knife thing. There's waterproof matches, toothbrush, toothpaste, 72-hour supply of food and water with energy bars, a New Testament, rope to make your thermal blanket into a tent, if you want to do that. There's a bandanna with a help sign on it. There's bandages and Band-Aids, a sewing kit and all other things in there.

If the chosen ones are to rise up, why do I need a survival kit?

Um, you mean you don't think we're going to undergo any trials and tribulations? They [the Bakkers] are only doing it so they can stay on the air and, you know, teach and preach.... The time will come when our faith will be put to the test, and I just pray to God that I hope I have the strength to stand so that I will one day stand before Him and He will say, "Well done, my faithful servant." It's a scary thought, isn't it?

If Judgment Day is near, what kind of shipping would you recommend?

Nobody says it's going to be tomorrow, but you never know. But there's still about 5 percent of biblical prophecy still to come to pass, and there's lots of signs there.... It's kind of like birth pains. I don't know that you've ever had a baby, but I have. When the contractions come closer and closer together, that baby is coming. And things are happening more and more and more. So, yeah, I think my children, I have to prepare them. Things are going to get worse.

Since money will be worthless after the apocalypse, do I really need to pay?

[Laughs.] We're selling these backpacks to keep them [the Bakkers] on the air to get out this message. If you don't want to support the ministry, you're at liberty to let the offer go by. And like Jim says, you can make your own backpack. You can go out and get yourself a backpack, or you may have one at home and you can put your own things in. It's really your own choice.

God Bless Cleaver

U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver had a great Fourth of July. The Kansas City Democrat reflected on his mind-blowing Independence Day in the July 7 edition of his e-newsletter, "EC from DC."

Cleaver felt pretty patriotic after spending time at Riverfest and Sugar Creek. He'd had such a good time that all the fireworks must have blown his mind. Take this excerpt:

"Francis Scott Key had it correct when he wrote the 'Star-Spangled Banner.' He wrote, 'stand beside her and guide her.' It is our patriotic duty to guide our nation, not just to stand beside her. Next time you stand for the national anthem, take a moment to think about that important line and what it calls for all of us to do."

You'll be waiting a long time for that important line if you're listening to "The Star-Spangled Banner." It's not in there. It's from "God Bless America," written by Irving Berlin.

Oops.

Cleaver's office quickly sent out a corrected version of the newsletter: "I heard the [sic] 'God Bless America' a number of times over the last week. The song has a lyric that goes, 'stand beside her and guide her.' It is our patriotic duty to guide our nation, not just to stand beside her. Next time you sing 'God Bless America,' take a moment to think about that important line and what it calls for all of us to do."

The Pitch feels Cleaver's pain. With so many patriotic songs — "The Star-Spangled Banner," "God Bless America," Toby Keith's entire post 9/11 catalog — it's just too hard to keep track.

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