Apocalypse Now(ish): Irvin Baxter's End Times Empire

Death, destruction and the end of humanity: Dallas pastor Irvin Baxter is building a media juggernaut by predicting the very worst.

But one night, listening to a traveling preacher at a revival meeting, Baxter suddenly knew that his time had come. He sat in the pews overcome, listening to the choir as tears streamed down his face.

"I felt God's power on me," Baxter says. His lips and jaw started to quiver and his power of speech started to fail. "I was so hungry for God, I thought, 'I don't care if I make a fool of myself.' I just busted. I really didn't realize what was happening to me for the next two or three or four minutes. Then I heard someone speaking in tongues over the microphone system." It took a moment for him to recognize his own voice. "The church was so happy that the preacher's kid had finally gotten the Holy Ghost that they put the microphone in my face."

After his dad retired, Baxter pastored Oak Park for 33 years, mixing the end times into his general-purpose preaching.

"When I would travel as an evangelist, I would preach on prophecy quite a bit and win a lot of people to God that way," Baxter explains. "But I wouldn't preach on it every night. I preached on other things. Then when I took the church to pastor in Richmond, prophecy was still a big part. But you've got to give people a well-rounded diet."

He authored A Message to the President in 1986 and launched Endtime magazine in 1992, which he says has a circulation of around 22,000 today, plus 3,000 more readers online. He had an early interest in computers, and wrote and designed the first issues on one of the first Apples to hit the market. Before writing Dark Intentions, he also wrote another apocalyptic thriller in 2001, called China War and the Third Temple.

But the struggle between "two full-time jobs" began to wear on him, he says. "I knew I was neglecting my church. Our people were wonderful. They believed in everything we were doing. I'd been their pastor so long, they'd put up with about anything I did. They were so good." But his wife kept urging him to quit, he says, telling him he wasn't paying enough attention to the congregation.

So in 2005, Baxter picked up and moved himself and six other families to suburban Dallas, with a plan to devote himself full-time to prophecy. The families who moved with him were key staffers, the ones who'd been helping him produce the magazine and the radio show.

Endtime Inc., which operates as a nonprofit, started out in a 5,000-square-foot space in Garland, where they remained for two years before moving to their current 15,000-square-foot office in Plano. It was around that time, he says, that God also began talking to him about getting on TV. They built a fully equipped professional TV studio before hitting a serious snag.

"I was so far in debt, I couldn't buy an hour of television time to save my neck," Baxter says. "I said, 'God, I was sure you told me to do this. I couldn't go on television if I had to. What am I supposed to do?'"

Baxter says the TV issue was solved when two men came to him in the same day, one who offered to pay the whole bill for him to appear on Daystar, a slightly less popular Christian channel, and another who would pay for time on TBN. But he still couldn't get anyone at TBN to return his calls.

"Everywhere I turned, there was a blocked door. No response. After two weeks, I called our staff together and said, 'It's God's will for us to be on TBN, because God supplied $25,000 a month. We've got to pray that God's going to open this door.' We had a prayer, maybe right here in this office. I don't remember." A few days later, the phone rang. It was Paul Crouch's personal assistant; the TBN founder had seen Baxter interviewed and taken a shine to him. A couple months later, Baxter was on TBN. "What we couldn't do, God unlocked with the greatest of ease."

There were a few lean years before they finally managed to get those TV spots, though. "We had two years in decline," Baxter says. "I think 2009 and 2010. And those were tough, tough years. We were in survival mode, frankly."

Endtime's IRS filings from 2009 and 2010 actually show significant revenue for those years; in 2010, the most recent year for which records are available, the company earned $1.8 million, $1.5 million of it from donations. But they spent about $1.9 million, including $375,000 on radio and television expenses, almost $200,000 on rent, $137,000 in travel and $45,000 on the conferences.

"Once we went on television, the income has increased back to where it was before," Baxter says, though it's still not much. "We are doing better, even though it's still a month to month deal." Their television bills are enormous, around $70,000 a month. "And that's just the television. That doesn't mean paying the salaries of 35 or 40 employees. It's a big budget, but God supplies. It's almost as though we live on manna here. You go to the mailbox and what's there is what's there."

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28 comments
superelf
superelf

Hello, Anna Merlan. For someone who appears to fall into the category of those who find the end of the age "a little obscure for non-prophecy types", your article was nicely informative about Mr. Baxter. Perhaps you will write a follow-up when these Holy Bible prophesied events start showing up in the newspapers (as you now know for what to look)? See you then.  ;)

doctordave77
doctordave77

Anna, I'll have some respect for your journalism when you do a similar article covering Scientology. You use some cheap tricks in an attempt to paste Baxter with the same brush as TBN. The hucksterism practiced by TBM is unrelated to EndTime so why do you write about their misdeeds in an article supposed to be about Baxter's ministry.


And his salary seems to be very low for a man overseeing a company with that income. I didn't read a word of credit in your article about that. Plus his advisory committee is not mentioned on his IRS form? So what? Why don't we have some details about the individuals on the committee and what function they actually serve.


Your anti-fundamentalist bias shows throughout the piece. Better to excuse yourself before you cover another religious organization.


Dave

GA030382
GA030382

I will agree that the DVD prices are steep.  Especially since the word of the Lord should be free.

But the DVDs were really done well.

JesusFollowerForever
JesusFollowerForever

I like how you shared his Holy Ghost Experience because that's a real experience everyone should try to receive it is a promise to everyone, read acts chapter 2:38 and the whole chapter along with it. The Holy Ghost changed my life I was addicted to many different drugs for years but the Holy Ghost changed me forever and delivered me from my addictions forever. I'm glad to be free.

jeremyconr
jeremyconr

I firmly believe that Mr. Baxter is a genuinly good man. I do appreciate a look at his ministry from a different point of view. I think he is honestly doing the best he can with his preaching and with the financial contributions he recieves. His ministry is what has worked best for me .

   I believe its not a Christians job to chastise anyone, maybe point them in a better direction, but not to belittle .  I think its a Christians job to live the best life they can quietly and live the life others would want. Not everybody wants to be a Christian, but that is their right. Its no mans job to judge. I hope everyone gets to experience the peace of mind I have had for the past 10 years, but I cant show them through words.

scottie1620
scottie1620

Praise Jeezus! I got to get me one of them thar prophetic churches! If there are enough ignorant, illiterate, stupid people around here with enough extra money to contribute to my cause, then I, too, can live the life of Robert Tilton, Robert Shuler, Oral (sic) Roberts, James Robinson, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, Jimmy Swaggert, Creflo Dollar and the rest of those charlatans who have conned their way into a comfortable living by playing on the fears of the uneducated mental midgets among us.

 

Anybody who believes this "endtimes" garbage needs to take the money they give to these guys and spend it on a good psychiatrist. Professional help may get you over this delusion of belief in sky fairies and endtime prophecies. And, by the way, the last two Presidents who talked about one world government in flowery terms were George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. They called it the "New World Order", and it is the very same "New World Order" about which Hitler talked, along with many other far right fascists for the last 1,000 years.

abeliever
abeliever

I've been following Bible prophesy and the Book of Revelation for over 30 years now.... and I find Pastor Baxter's videos and presentations about the last days or the endtimes to be about 90%  accurate... His timeframes are exponentially excellerating as each year goes by... the signposts are definitely there.....

kritter3
kritter3

It is great to live in a country where religious ideas are free to be disseminated to those who are willing to listen. If this article reveals anything, it is the possibility that the IRS might be used as the agent to silence anyone with an opinion. If we want to talk about taxing Non-profit organizations, we need to thing about the unintended consequences. Breast cancer research, climate change, and charities that directly help the homeless and those in poverty are just a few categories of nonprofits affected. 

I cannot remember the last time I heard about someone building a 5 million dollar "empire." Dallas must be fairly scandal free these days if we are digging this deep to try and find one.

jstump
jstump

Hey Anna, enjoyed the article and interesting take on the conference.  One correction though, the well dressed folks up front were all visitors while many of the folks in the back were the regular attenders.  We wanted the guests to have the best seats in the house.  The gentleman with the "Free" tattoo on his forehead is Darron - a veteran of the Iraq war - and an amazing person!  He definitely tends to get noticed.  :) 

 

We're so glad you came!  Next time let us know as we would love to recognize you and your paper.

 

God bless,

Jacob Stump

PhoneHome1
PhoneHome1

@ZachsMind #End of times = full of POISION & FEAR all for MONEY

Randy
Randy

I like how the font of "EndTime"'s cover is the same as the font on TIME magazine's cover.

Steve Nabors
Steve Nabors

Minus natural events, if an Apocalypse does occur I can almost guarantee it will be caused by the deadly virus of religion.

Louise Clifton Siebert
Louise Clifton Siebert

I'm more afraid of these religious crack pots than i am the end of the world! Maybe he should have his own reality show like honey boo boo..we all love watching a good train wreck

Jarod Warren
Jarod Warren

Another one? I seem to remember the Bible having some choice phrases regarding false prophets. Ah well, I guess like carrying dogs in purses, predicting the apocalypse has become the new.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

Now what was it that PT Barnum said?

sunny-in-texas
sunny-in-texas

Sorry to nitpick, but it seems the author is using "prophesy" in places where she should be using "prophecy". Just kinda driving me nuts. Thanks!

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

"...at thirteen years of age, I figured something was wrong with me."

 

The one thing in this guy's life he got right.

 

I also love that he envisions himself behind "them all" on his white horse, watching it all unfold. *sheesh*

 

Megalomania, it isn't just for breakfast anymore!

sarahjane1923
sarahjane1923

@Dallas_Observer This is not required work reading, but I can't stop. It's like a well-written trainwreck.

WackyCrackerTracker
WackyCrackerTracker

I still say that "End Times 2: Die Prejudiced, Prudish And Proud" is the best in the series, although the CGI wasn't as impressive as the original.

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

I'm in the wrong 'bidness'.......this ENDTIMES CRAP sells better than a hooker in an oil camp!  But sadly, I'm not a deceiver-oh, dern.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Isn't it overly prideful for 'Christians' to think that they are the ones to live in the 'end times?'  as all of em have for the last 2000 yrs.

jereca16
jereca16

They only way you can debate an issue is if you fully understand both sides you look down on Christian. Because you are a simple worldly person who knows absolutel. Nothing of God so you can speak of something you no not of. God is real and trust me so is the devil but you will blindly follow him because your uneducated from the truth ( which is god). Noone knows for sure exactly when or what will happen in the end but irvin has done his best to depict what God has told us. Also so you know this is the only era that has turned away from God every generation before us as well as every country ever built has known god he is not fictional. He gave you the air you breath( a waste). I pray that you find true knowledge and understanding so you wont suffer for you ignorance. God bless.

scottie1620
scottie1620

 @kritter3 The IRS is the ONLY agency that grants non-profit status, and it is done under specific terms and conditions. If the IRS revokes a non-profit status for violating the rules, then it does so because the "organization" is failing to operate according to the law, not because they are silencing anybody's voice. You are free to say anything you want to say to anybody at any time, and you do NOT need a non-profit exemption from income tax to do it. One has to be pretty dumb not to see the difference.

jereca16
jereca16

Your a good man. :) only a godley man could write that reply.

Anna_Merlan
Anna_Merlan

 @jstump That's a really important correction, and I apologize sincerely for the error. Thanks, Pastor Stump. Glad you found the article interesting, at least. Thank you too for having me as a guest in your church. 

joe.tone
joe.tone moderator

 @sunny-in-texas If it makes you feel any better I just fired myself for this offense. I immediately rehired myself, because I need the health care, but for a moment, justice was yours.

 

Joe Tone, editor

Anna_Merlan
Anna_Merlan

 @sunny-in-texas I think you're right. That's my mistake, and it should rightfully drive you crazy. We'll try to get in there and fix it momentarily. The print editions of the paper will stand as a monument forever and ever, though. 

reneeboyette
reneeboyette

There was a Pastor that always taught -- dont take my word for it -- go to the Bible and verify all that is said--- and once again Go to the Word of God the Bible -- there are teaching throughout the entire Bible --- that prove the endtime will come -- and gives signs of these times.

 
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