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Jimmy Swaggart

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Rev. Jimmy Swaggart.
Rev. Jimmy Swaggart.

Jimmy Lee Swaggart (born March 15, 1935 in Ferriday, Louisiana) is a Fundamentalist Christian preacher and pioneer of televangelism who reached the height of his popularity in the 1980s. During the 1970s, Swaggart established a lucrative ministry under the Assemblies of God, which in the 1980s was estimated to make over $150 million per year.

Swaggart is the cousin of rock legend Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl McVoy, and country musician Mickey Gilley. All four of them played the piano.


[edit] Controversy and criticism

[edit] Sex scandals

Rev. Swaggart on the cover of TIME April 6, 1987
Rev. Swaggart on the cover of TIME April 6, 1987

When the PTL scandal destroyed fellow Assemblies of God minister Jim Bakker, Swaggart publicly denounced Bakker's scandal (not Bakker personally) as "a cancer on the body of Christ." Shortly afterward, Swaggart faced his own sex scandal when a private investigator, hired by a rival evangelist Marvin Gorman, documented a series of Swaggart's meetings with prostitutes. (Gorman himself had been fired from the Assemblies of God ministry after Swaggart had reported that Gorman was having an adulterous affair.) In 1987, Swaggart was involved with a prostitute named Debra Murphree in Metairie, Louisiana at the Texas Motel on Airline Highway. Gorman and some associates flattened the tires on Swaggart's car, went to get cameras, and then took photographs of Swaggart exiting the hotel with the prostitute. Gorman confronted Swaggart and told him he would have to come clean. Swaggart said he would but failed to do so. [citation needed]

Only after much wrangling did Gorman take copies of the photographs to the Assemblies of God headquarters in Springfield, Missouri. The Assemblies of God immediately imposed upon him the mandatory two-year rehabilitation time required of all its ministers who fall into sexual sin. This meant Swaggart could not minister in any capacity for two years, while undergoing treatment and counseling. Swaggart rejected this, though he had agreed this was a good policy for Gorman. It was made public knowledge later that the Assemblies of God headquarters had previously known of Swaggart's lifestyle and had counseled him at an earlier time, but took no further action. [citation needed]

The story broke on February 20, 1988, four months after Swaggart had promised to confess his sin. On February 21, 1988, on his television show taped in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Swaggart tearfully confessed that he was guilty of an unspecified sin and made comparisons to himself and King David. Because he would not submit to the authoritative discipline and rehabilitative policies of the Assemblies of God, his ordination was revoked. As a result, Swaggart spent a considerable amount of time, in church and on television, blasting the Assemblies of God for its "unforgiving" stances. Swaggart lost much of his audience after these events. Swaggart subsequently blamed his problems on "demons" and claimed that controversial evangelist Oral Roberts had "cast out the demons" over the phone, thus assuring Swaggart was now free of moral defect. (source: The Agony of Deceit by Mike Horton)

While Swaggart may have frequented other seedy hotels in areas such as Baton Rouge and Lake Charles [citation needed], the location of the infamous photograph was in Metairie. There are erroneous reports of this hotel being in Lake Charles or Baton Rouge.

On October 11, 1991, in Indio, California, police stopped Swaggart for driving on the wrong side of the road. In the car with him was yet another prostitute, named Rosemary Garcia. No sex-related charges were filed in that incident. [citation needed]

He warned his congregation afterwards that "God says it's none of your business!" [citation needed]

In 2002, the heirs of Pentecostal Bible teacher Finis Jennings Dake filed a plagiarism suit against Swaggart for failing to gain their permission before publishing some of Dake's materials. That lawsuit is pending at present.

He now claims to have "made his life right with God" and preaches a message called "the Cross" which says that the only way to Heaven is through the death of Jesus. He opposes such movements as G12 Vision and the Purpose Driven Life.

[edit] Views on Christian rock

Swaggart made many statements against Christian rock, including bands like DeGarmo and Key and Christian musicians like Larry Norman. DeGarmo and Key countered this with the song "Don't Stop the Music."

[edit] Views on homosexuality

Swaggart has a longstanding history of speaking against homosexuality. He has preached that those with such inclinations should be called, "queers, perverts, or homosexuals, but not gay. Gay is a nice word."

In mid-September 2004, Swaggart, in a politically charged sermon, joked that he would kill a gay man:

"I'm trying to find the correct name for it … this utter absolute, asinine, idiotic stupidity of men marrying men. … I've never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry. And I'm gonna be blunt and plain; if one ever looks at me like that, I'm gonna kill him and tell God he died." [1]

Gay rights groups quickly demanded that other right-wing religious leaders at the service, including Tony Perkins, repudiate his comment.

Swaggart later stated that his comment was not meant to be taken seriously, and that the expression "kill him and tell God he died" is a contradiction.

Openly gay Texas musician Patrick Boothe wrote the song "Kill Him and Tell God He Died" in response to Swaggart's comments, released on his 2006 album Finally The View Has Changed.

[edit] Trivia

  • In 1988 rock musician Frank Zappa wrote a number of parodies about Swaggart's then-current sex scandal. On the album The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life, "Lonesome Cowboy Burt" became "Lonesome Cowboy Jim", and "Penguin in Bondage" and "Trouble Every Day" were also rewritten. Also, the first track of Zappa's Make A Jazz Noise Here album includes a snippet from a show in Boston, on Feburary 20th, 1988, where Zappa informs the audience of "the good news today" that "Jimmy Swaggart is under investigation". Zappa's 1988 live recording Broadway The Hard Way includes a version of The Police song "Murder By Numbers", sung by Sting, and "dedicated" by him to Swaggart, who criticized the song several years earlier.
  • During the same tour, Zappa also rewrote three Beatles songs to satirize Swaggart. Norwegian Wood became "Norwegian Jim" [2], Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds became "Louisana Hooker With Herpes" [3], and Strawberry Fields Forever was rewritten as "Texas Motel" [4]. Due to problems securing the rights to the original Beatles songs (at the time when Zappa was releasing albums recorded on the 1988 tour, the Beatles copyrights were owned in part by Michael Jackson, who himself was satirized by Zappa in the song "Why Don't You Like Me"), these songs are not available on the regular Zappa catalogue, but audience recordings can be found on the Internet, usually labelled as "Texas Motel Medley". The lyrics to the suite can be found through the references provided.
  • Skinny Puppy sample his "I am clean" speech on their song "Hexonxonx" from their Rabies album.
  • In the Jerry Lee Lewis biopic Great Balls of Fire! (1989), Jimmy Swaggart is portrayed by Alec Baldwin.
  • The Pop Will Eat Itself song The Incredible PWEI vs. the Moral Majority from their 1990 album Cure for Sanity and the James song God Only Knows from their 1990 album Gold Mother both include a quote of Jimmy Swaggart saying things about Satan and his presence in Rock Music.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

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