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Jim and Tammy Bakker, once the driving forces behind a multimillion-dollar television evangelism empire before it crashed and he went to prison for fleecing his flock, are getting a divorce, Tammy has announced.

In a letter to partners in the now defunct PTL television ministry, Tammy said she finally had decided to go through with the divorce they had discussed for some time. She said in the letter released Thursday that attempts to stay together had left her suffering from stress and nervous strain that had led to high blood pressure, anemia and other ailments."I cannot pretend anymore," she said. "Pretending becomes too hard on the physical body. I am lonely and I am hurting. For years I have been pretending that everything was all right, when in fact I hurt all the time."

"Jim and I have had discussions about this many times," she said. "We even separated at one time in an attempt to work things out. We have never kept our marriage problems secret from you. As you know the marriage workshops at PTL were started as a result of our own hurts. I have spent the last few weeks once again in Christian counseling and through that counseling have made this decision."

She said when they began their ministry, "We were determined to win the world for Jesus. But, somewhere along the way, we got our priorities mixed up.

She said she and Bakker "will always remain friends" and are in "constant communication."

"I have decided to complete the divorce proceedings before he gets out of prison. I feel that having been apart for over two years anyway, the hurt will be less this way. Neither one of us can take much more hurt."

Jim Toms, Jim Bakker's attorney in Hendersonville, N.C., said Bakker "is very sad about the divorce and loves Tammy very, very much. He wants only the best for her."