Jay Bakker has a very famous last name. The reputation of his parents — disgraced evangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker — usually precedes his own.
That hasn't been easy, he says in his new book, especially since he decided to follow in the family business and become a pastor himself.
Bakker co-founded Revolution Church in 1994 and now runs the New York City branch, which meets every Sunday afternoon at a Brooklyn bar.
A church that meets in a bar is pretty atypical, but then again, so is Bakker, who counts Marlon Brando as one of his fashion icons and is covered in tattoos — including one tattoo that reads, "Religion Destroys."
"Religion can be a very dangerous thing," Bakker tells NPR's Guy Raz. "It's a constant reminder to me to be careful."
In Fall To Grace: A Revolution of God, Self and Society, Bakker makes it clear it's grace, not religion, that he believes in.
"Grace is unconditional acceptance," he says. "It's just that moment where you're able to say, 'I am accepted by a power greater than myself.'"
Bakker's unorthodox beliefs lead him to controversial social stances that have branded him as a heretic in many Christian circles. One of those stances includes fighting for gay rights.
He believes gay marriage should be legalized and is very active within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The Bible, he says, has been misconstrued by many Christians and needs to be re-examined to include these important civil rights.
"I believe that the church is unfortunately still the 'tail light,' as Martin Luther King used to say," Bakker says, referring to King's musing that religious communities usually seem behind on matters of social justice. "I'm hoping that we can become the headlight one day."