Missouri Sues Televangelist Bakker for Selling Fake Coronavirus Cure

Joe Nickell

Following my article on “Magic Waters,” part of the Skeptical Inquirer’s special issue on “The Health Wars” (September/October 2019), another type of supposedly magical water has made the news. Televangelist Jim Bakker advertised on his website (“The Jim Bakker Show,” February 12) a product called Silver Solution. Its label says it contains “deionized water.” That is essentially demineralized water (water that has been treated to remove nearly all of its mineral ions). A combination of processes (such as carbon filtering, ultraviolet oxidation, electrodeionization, and others) is sometimes employed to produce ultrapure water (having only trace contaminants, measured in parts per billion). Highly purified water has many uses—notably in medications (though also in beverages to help maintain product consistency).

In Silver Solution, however, the demineralized water was being touted as something of a high-tech snake oil. It appears it also contains colloidal silver (as its name implies), which is found in similar products. However, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, the silver not only provides no known health benefits but may also cause side effects, such as skin discoloration and the body’s poor absorption of other medicines.

In an online article, Hunter Moyler of Newsweek (February 12) reported that a naturopath on Bakker’s show claimed Silver Solution had proven effective not only in boosting a person’s immune system but also in attacking viruses related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). While admitting the putative medicine had not been tested on that particular strain of the virus, naturopathic doctor Sherrill Sellman claimed it had been able to “eliminate” other strains of the coronavirus “within twelve hours”—a claim Newsweek was unable to verify. Neither was Newsweek able to confirm that colloidal silver was included in Bakker’s solution or that Sellman was even suitably accredited.

Following the Newsweek report, the state of Missouri sued Bakker and his Morningside Church Productions, demanding they stop advertising or selling either the Silver Solution or any related products for treating the coronavirus (Matthew S. Schwartz, npr.org, March 11). The sale of any bogus treatment for the COVID-19 disease would constitute a violation of both state and federal law.

Joe Nickell

Joe Nickell, Ph.D., is Senior Research Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) and “Investigative Files” Columnist for Skeptical Inquirer. A former stage magician, private investigator, and teacher, he is author of numerous books, including Inquest on the Shroud of Turin (1998), Pen, Ink and Evidence (2003), Unsolved History (2005) and Adventures in Paranormal Investigation (2007). He has appeared in many television documentaries and has been profiled in The New Yorker and on NBC’s Today Show. His personal website is at joenickell.com.


Following my article on “Magic Waters,” part of the Skeptical Inquirer’s special issue on “The Health Wars” (September/October 2019), another type of supposedly magical water has made the news. Televangelist Jim Bakker advertised on his website (“The Jim Bakker Show,” February 12) a product called Silver Solution. Its label says it contains “deionized water.” That …

This article is available to subscribers only.
Subscribe now or log in to read this article.