When Sean “Diddy” Combs accepted a Lifetime Achievement Award from BET in 2022, the rapper gave shoutouts to supporters who “lifted me up in prayer.” Among them were Kim Porter, the late mother of his children, and his ex-girlfriend and R&B artist Cassie, who filed a sexual assault lawsuit against him last year that was so disturbing it came with a trigger warning.
“Prayer works. I’mma pray for y’all. Pray for me. Let’s pray for each other,” Diddy told the crowd at the 2022 BET Awards. The mogul added, “I was in a dark place for a few years. I have to give a special thank you to the people that was really, like, there for me.”
He then named one famous helper in particular: megachurch pastor Bishop T.D. Jakes.
In recent weeks, the Texas preacher has been at the center of a social media rumor mill accusing him of appearing at Diddy’s sex-charged parties. One TikTok user’s video circulating the unconfirmed accusations has 1.8 million views.
Jakes obliquely addressed the controversy in a Christmas Eve sermon, advising his flock at The Potter’s House Church in Dallas to “log off.”
“All of you who expect me to address a lie, you can log off,” Jakes said to applause. “I will not use this sacred day and this sacred pulpit to address a lie when I have a chance to preach a truth.”
“But there will be a time,” he continued. “So you can stop dragging people and arguing with people and fighting and just log off… There is no show here.”
At another point, Jakes said, “The worst that could happen, if everything was true, all I gotta do is repent sincerely from my heart. There’s enough power in the blood to cover all kinds of sins. I don’t care what it is, the blood would fix it.
“But I ain’t got to repent about this. All I got to do is step over top of it.”
According to Christian media site the Roys Report, other videos also claim that Jakes groomed a former mentee.
A spokesperson for Jakes denied the claims spreading on Black Twitter and TikTok.
Bishop Jakes is one of the most transformational leaders of our time who has made a profound impact on my life
“Recent claims circulating on pockets of social media about Bishop T.D. Jakes are unequivocally false and baseless,” Jordan A. Hora, executive director of public relations and communications for the T.D. Jakes Group, T.D. Jakes Ministries and The Potter’s House, told online newspaper The Christian Post.
“What has always been true,” Hora added, “in the words of the late Pastor Charles H. Spurgeon, ‘If you want the truth to go round the world you must hire an express train to pull it; but if you want a lie to go round the world it will fly; it is as light as a feather, and a breath will carry it.’”
Since November, Cassie and several other women came forward in lawsuits to accuse Diddy of rape, sex trafficking, beatings, revenge porn, and drugging as far back as the early 1990s. (Cassie settled her case a day after it was filed for an undisclosed sum, and Combs’ lawyer said the settlement was “in no way an admission of wrongdoing.”) One suit accused him and former Bad Boy president Harve Pierre of gang-raping a 17-year-old girl.
After the lawsuit was filed, Diddy denied her claims and said “sickening allegations have been made against me by individuals looking for a quick payday.” Pierre also issued a denial, calling the claims “a tale of fiction” and “desperate attempt for financial gain.”
In her own complaint, Cassie accused Diddy of directing her to ingest drugs, wear a masquerade mask, and perform sex acts with male sex workers while he watched in an encounter that could last days—an arrangement he called a “Freak off.”
Cassie’s suit alleged that Diddy would beat her but his “tremendously loyal network” refused to stop the rapper’s behavior. “What started as a whirlwind of celebrity meetings and drug-and-alcohol-fueled parties,” the complaint says, “quickly turned frightening and violent.”
Before the settlement, Diddy’s lawyer called Cassie’s allegations “offensive and outrageous” and claimed the singer had tried to “blackmail” Diddy for $30 million and threatened to write a damaging tell-all about their relationship.
The rumors about Jakes exploded after YouTuber Tuff News TV posted a Dec. 18 video wherein he recited an email from an alleged tipster claiming Jakes was a participant in Diddy’s sex parties and had engaged in misconduct with a former mentee.
“Bishop Jakes is about to get railroaded and all of his dirt will be exposed,” the supposed email continued.
“Now I do want to protect the integrity of my platform and say that everything that I just conveyed to you is all alleged,” the host, Germaine McKinley, told viewers, before claiming that the feds had Diddy’s ex Kim Porter’s burner phone and USBs.
“It’s about to go down,” McKinley said. “It is really about to go down.”
Diddy hasn’t weighed in on the Jakes controversy captivating online corners.
The rap mogul is a longtime fan of the pastor, who in 2001 appeared on the cover of Time magazine under the headline, “Is this man the next Billy Graham?”
The beloved 66-year-old father and grandfather was also the keynote speaker at former President Obama’s 2009 Inauguration Day prayer service. In 2015, Obama told Variety, “I am fortunate to count myself among the countless Americans whose lives have been touched by the ministry of Bishop T.D. Jakes.”
The worst that could happen, if everything was true, all I gotta do is repent sincerely from my heart.
As an author, filmmaker and real estate developer, Jakes faced criticism as early as 1997 for preaching the “prosperity gospel”—and driving flashy cars and owning a multimillion-dollar mansion. “A lot of times people will look at someone like me, but they really need to look at people who’ve got 20 [church] members and have a Rolls,” Jakes once told Oprah.
Diddy has been spreading Jakes’ word as early as 2010, retweets from his old Twitter account @iamdiddy show. Back then, the rapper shared quotes from Jakes such as, “Somebody is in the hospital begging God for the opportunity you have right now. Step into your moment” and “I’m not walking by sight—I’m walking by faith.”
When Diddy hosted a memorial for Porter in 2018, Jakes conducted the service.
Three years later, Diddy’s Revolt TV network partnered with the pastor for an exclusive sermon series titled Kingdom Culture with T.D. Jakes. (Diddy temporarily stepped aside as chairman of the media company after three women accused him of sexual assault in lawsuits.)
“Bishop Jakes is one of the most transformational leaders of our time who has made a profound impact on my life,” Diddy said in a press release announcing the project, “so we’re honored for him to join the REVOLT family and use his gift to empower the culture.”
In 2022, the men were photographed at each other’s birthday parties.
That June, Diddy attended Jakes’ 65th birthday bash (hosted by his friend, the filmmaker Tyler Perry) and posed for a photo with the preacher.
And when Diddy threw his 53rd birthday party in L.A. in November, Jakes was among the celebrity guests and was recorded singing “Happy Birthday.” “We love you, man,” he signed off in the clip, which raised eyebrows when it was first shared.
Derrick Williams, an executive of Jakes’ entertainment company, told The Christian Post that the footage was taken during what was only a brief stop at the festivities.
“Bishop Jakes was in LA for important business meetings, and we felt that a quick appearance at the former Chairman of Revolt’s birthday event was the respectful thing to do since Bishop Jakes’ sermons are aired on the Revolt Network,” he said.
“We both greeted the family, Bishop Jakes recorded a brief celebratory birthday video and left immediately to take our other scheduled meetings,” Williams added. “Any accusation to the contrary is wholly unsubstantiated, unverified, and false.”