Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt is suing televangelist Jim Bakker for misrepresenting a product on his show, promoting it as a cure for the coronavirus.
Bakker and his guest, Dr. Sherrill Sellman, claimed in an episode of "The Jim Bakker Show" last month that a Silver Solution product could cure strains of the virus, which is now sweeping the globe and leading to large event cancellations and countries imposing quarantine orders in certain regions in an attempt to help contain the virus.
“This influenza, which is now circling the globe, you’re saying that Silver Solution would be effective,” Bakker asked during the Feb. 12 broadcast.
Sellman, a naturopathic doctor, replied: “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.”
The Silver Solution was priced at over $80 on the show.
The lawsuit names both Bakker and Morningside Church Productions as defendants. Bakker's organization is headquartered in Blue Eye, Missouri, an incorporated village that is part of the Branson Micropolitan Statistical Area.
“Jim Bakker and Morningside Church Productions has 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in a pretty short timeframe, to answer certainly the allegations that we’ve made and it’d be our hope that they no longer represent that this 'Silver Solution' can cure the coronavirus,” Schmitt said in an interview with Ozarks First on Tuesday.
Other federal and state government entities have also taken action against Bakker.
The Food and Drug Administration and the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James have both sent cease and desist letters to Bakker after his program aired. The FDA letter stated that no known vaccination or over-the-counter treatment exists to treat the coronavirus.
“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,” James said in her letter.
“Your show’s segment may mislead consumers as to the effectiveness of the Silver Solution product in protecting against the current outbreak.”
The Missouri Attorney General's office asserts in its lawsuit that Bakker and Morningside violated the state's Merchandising Practices Act, and asked for a restraining order and permanent injunction demanding Bakker cease selling the solution as a viable treatment for the virus.
The Christian Post reached out to "The Jim Bakker Show" for comment and will update this article when a response is received.
Bakker is known for selling a variety of religious and health products in response to disasters and potential end times scenarios during his broadcasts.
According to data released by the World Health Organization that is updated daily, 118,318 people worldwide have been infected with COVID-19 since it emerged late last year in China, and 4,292 people have died. Vaccines for the virus are being developed but the trial process to test its safety and efficacy will likely take more than a year. Responses to the virus have varied by nation depending on the infection rate.
On Wednesday, WHO designated the coronavirus as a pandemic. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO, said the number of cases outside China has grown 13-fold over the past two weeks.
"Several countries have demonstrated that this virus can be suppressed and controlled," he said. "The challenge for many countries who are now dealing with large clusters or community transmission is not whether they can do the same — it's whether they will."