Jimmy Swaggart

Last updated
Jimmy Swaggart
Rev. Jimmy Swaggart 01.jpg
Swaggart in 2009
Born
Jimmy Lee Swaggart

(1935-03-15) March 15, 1935 (age 84)
Occupation Evangelist, singer, author, pastor, pianist
Years active1955present
TelevisionThe Jimmy Swaggart Telecast (1971present)
Spouse(s)
Frances Swaggart(m. 1952)
ChildrenDonnie Swaggart
Website jsm.org

Jimmy Lee Swaggart ( /ˈswæɡərt/ ; born March 15, 1935) is an American Pentecostal evangelist.

Pentecostalism Renewal movement within Protestant Christianity

Pentecostalism or Classical Pentecostalism is a renewal movement within Protestant Christianity that places special emphasis on a direct personal experience of God through baptism with the Holy Spirit. The term Pentecostal is derived from Pentecost, the Greek name for the Jewish Feast of Weeks. For Christians, this event commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the followers of Jesus Christ, as described in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.

Evangelism Spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the purpose of conversion to or a rapprochement with Christianity

In Christianity, evangelism is the commitment to or act of publicly preaching (ministry) of the Gospel with the intention of spreading the message and teachings of Jesus Christ.

Contents

Swaggart's TV ministry, which began in 1971, has a viewing audience both in the U.S. and internationally. The weekly Jimmy Swaggart Telecast and A Study in the Word programs are broadcast throughout the U.S. and on 78 channels in 104 other countries, and over the Internet. [1] At its height in the 1980s, his telecast was transmitted to over 3,000 stations and cable systems each week. [2] He currently owns and operates the SonLife Broadcasting Network.

Sexual scandals with prostitutes in the late 1980s and early 1990s led the Assemblies of God to defrock him. As a result of the scandals, Swaggart temporarily stepped down as the head of Jimmy Swaggart Ministries. [3]

Assemblies of God USA Pentecostal Christian denomination in the USA

The Assemblies of God USA (AG), officially the General Council of the Assemblies of God, is a Pentecostal Christian denomination in the United States founded in 1914 during a meeting of Pentecostal ministers at Hot Springs, Arkansas. It is the U.S. branch of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship, the world's largest Pentecostal body. With a constituency of over 3 million, the Assemblies of God was the ninth largest Christian denomination and the second largest Pentecostal denomination in the United States in 2011.

Early life

Jimmy Lee Swaggart was born on March 15, 1935, in Ferriday, Louisiana. By relation, he is the nephew of Arilla (née Swaggart) Wells (19162015), who was also the manager of Wells Grocery in Tunica, Louisiana. He is the cousin of rock'n'roll pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis and country music star Mickey Gilley. [4] He also had a sister, Jeanette Ensminger (19421999). With his parents, Swaggart attended a small, 25-member Assemblies of God church in Ferriday. In 1952, aged 17, Swaggart married 15-year-old Frances Anderson whom he met in church while he was playing music with his father. They have a son named Donnie. Swaggart worked several part-time odd jobs in order to support his young family and also began singing Southern Gospel music at various churches.

Ferriday, Louisiana Sole incorporated city in Louisiana, United States


Ferriday is a town in Concordia Parish in northeastern Louisiana, United States. The population, which is three-fourths African American, was 3,511 at the 2010 census.

Tunica, Louisiana Unincorporated community in Louisiana, United States

Tunica is an unincorporated community in West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana, United States. Its elevation is 66 feet.

Jerry Lee Lewis American singer-songwriter and pianist

Jerry Lee Lewis is an American singer-songwriter, musician, and pianist, often known by his nickname, The Killer. He has been described as "rock & roll's first great wild man."

According to his autobiography, Swaggart, along with his wife and son, lived in poverty during the 1950s as he preached throughout rural Louisiana, struggling to survive on US$30 a week (equivalent to $270in 2018). Being too poor to own a home, the Swaggarts lived in church basements, pastors' homes, and small motels. Sun Records producer Sam Phillips wanted to start a gospel line of music for the label (perhaps to remain in competition with RCA Victor and Columbia, who also had gospel lines at the time) and wanted Swaggart for Sun as the label's first gospel artist. Swaggart's cousin Jerry Lee Lewis, who had previously signed with Sun, was reportedly making $20,000 per week at the time. Although the offer meant a promise for significant income for him and his family, Swaggart turned Phillips down, stating that he was called to preach the gospel. [5]

Autobiography biography written by the subject

An autobiography is a self-written account of the life of oneself. The word "autobiography" was first used deprecatingly by William Taylor in 1797 in the English periodical The Monthly Review, when he suggested the word as a hybrid, but condemned it as "pedantic". However, its next recorded use was in its present sense, by Robert Southey in 1809. Despite only being named early in the nineteenth century, first-person autobiographical writing originates in antiquity. Roy Pascal differentiates autobiography from the periodic self-reflective mode of journal or diary writing by noting that "[autobiography] is a review of a life from a particular moment in time, while the diary, however reflective it may be, moves through a series of moments in time". Autobiography thus takes stock of the autobiographer's life from the moment of composition. While biographers generally rely on a wide variety of documents and viewpoints, autobiography may be based entirely on the writer's memory. The memoir form is closely associated with autobiography but it tends, as Pascal claims, to focus less on the self and more on others during the autobiographer's review of his or her life.

Louisiana State of the United States of America

Louisiana is a state in the Deep South region of the South Central United States. It is the 31st most extensive and the 25th most populous of the 50 United States. Louisiana is bordered by the state of Texas to the west, Arkansas to the north, Mississippi to the east, and the Gulf of Mexico to the south. A large part of its eastern boundary is demarcated by the Mississippi River. Louisiana is the only U.S. state with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are equivalent to counties. The state's capital is Baton Rouge, and its largest city is New Orleans.

Sun Records American independent record label founded by Sam Phillips in Memphis, Tennessee in 1950

Sun Records is an American independent record label founded by Sam Phillips in Memphis, Tennessee in 1950. Sun was the first label to record Elvis Presley, Charlie Rich, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash.

Ordination and early career

Preaching from a flatbed trailer donated to him, Swaggart began full-time evangelistic work in 1955. He began developing a revival-meeting following throughout the American South. In 1960, he began recording gospel music record albums and transmitting on Christian radio stations. In 1961, Swaggart was ordained by the Assemblies of God; a year later he began his radio ministry. In the late 1960s, Swaggart founded what was then a small church named the Family Worship Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; the church eventually became district-affiliated with the Assemblies of God.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana Capital of Louisiana

Baton Rouge is the capital of the U.S. state of Louisiana. Located on the eastern bank of the Mississippi River, it is the parish seat of East Baton Rouge Parish, the most populous parish in Louisiana. It is the 99th most populous city in the United States, and second-largest city in Louisiana after New Orleans. It is also the 16th most populous state capital. As of the U.S. Census Bureau's July 2017 estimate, Baton Rouge had a population of 227,549, down from 229,493 at the 2010 census. Baton Rouge is the center of Greater Baton Rouge, the second-largest metropolitan area in Louisiana, with a population of 834,159 as of 2017, up from 802,484 in 2010 and 829,719 in 2015.

In the late 1960s Swaggart began transmitting a weekly 30-minute telecast over various local television stations in Baton Rouge and also purchased a local AM radio station, WLUX (now WPFC). The station broadcast Christian feature stories, preaching and teaching to various fundamentalist and Pentecostal denominations and playing black gospel, Southern gospel, and inspirational music. As Contemporary Christian music became more prevalent, the station avoided playing it. Swaggart sold many of his radio stations gradually throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. Jimmy Swaggart Ministries still operates several radio stations that operate under the name Sonlife Radio.

Shifting to television

By 1975, Swaggart's television ministry had expanded to more stations around the U.S., and he started using television as his primary preaching forum. In 1978 Swaggart's weekly telecast was increased to an hour.

In 1980, Swaggart began a daily weekday telecast featuring Bible study and music, and the weekend, hour-long telecast included a service from either Family Worship Center (Swaggart's church) or an on-location crusade in a major city. In the early 1980s Swaggart's broadcasts expanded to major cities nationwide. By 1983, more than 250 television stations broadcast Swaggart's telecast.

Prostitution scandals

In 1988, Swaggart was implicated in a sex scandal involving a prostitute that resulted initially in his suspension, and ultimately defrocking, by the Assemblies of God. Three years later Swaggart was implicated in another scandal involving a prostitute. As a result, Swaggart's ministry became non-affiliated, non-denominational and significantly smaller than it was in the ministry's pre-scandal years. [3] [6] The controversy surrounding the scandal inspired the Ozzy Osbourne song "Miracle Man" which was released on Osbourne's 1988 album No Rest for the Wicked , as well as several recorded live performances by Frank Zappa with songs featuring rewritten lyrics referencing Swaggart.

Background

Swaggart's exposure came as retaliation for an incident in 1986 when Swaggart exposed fellow Assemblies of God minister Marvin Gorman, who had been accused of having several affairs. Once exposed, Gorman was defrocked from the Assemblies of God, his ministry all but ended. As a retaliatory move, Gorman hired his son Randy and son-in-law Garland Bilbo to stake out the Travel Inn on Airline Highway in Baton Rouge. A camera with a telephoto lens was placed in the window of the motel's Room 12, and was draped with a black cloth. When Swaggart arrived, he reportedly went into Room 7. Randy Gorman and Garland Bilbo let the air out of the tires on Swaggart's vehicle. They called Marvin Gorman, whose church was located nearby. Randy Gorman and Garland Bilbo had taken photos of Swaggart outside Room 7 with Debra Murphree, [6] [7] a local prostitute. Gorman arrived at the Travel Inn a short while later and asked Swaggart what he was doing there.[ citation needed ]

According to Swaggart: The Unauthorized Biography of an American Evangelist, by Ann Rowe Seaman, Gorman secured a promise from Swaggart that he would publicly apologize to Gorman and start the process of Gorman's reinstatement to the Assemblies of God. Gorman offered to remain silent if Swaggart would state publicly that he lied about Gorman's affairs. Gorman waited almost a year, then hand-delivered a note to Swaggart informing him his time was up; Swaggart did not respond. On February 16, 1988, Gorman contacted James Hamil, one of the 13-man Executive Presbytery of the Assemblies of God, who called G. Raymond Carlson, the Assemblies Superintendent. Carlson summoned Hamill and Gorman to fly to Assemblies of God headquarters in Springfield, Missouri and arranged for an emergency meeting of the presbyters. He was shown photos of several men coming in and going out of Room 7 at the Travel Inn Motel in New Orleans. This was done to establish that the room was being used for prostitution. One of the men seen leaving Room 7 was Swaggart. The presbytery leadership of the Assemblies of God decided that Swaggart should be suspended from broadcasting his television program for three months.[ citation needed ]

According to the Associated Press, Murphree, who claimed to have posed nude for Swaggart, failed a polygraph test administered by a New York City Police Department polygraph expert. [8] The test administrator concluded that Murphree had failed to tell the truth on all key questions concerning her statement. The test was administered after Murphree offered to sell the story to the National Enquirer for $100,000. Paul Levy, senior editor for the Enquirer, stated that the polygraph examiner had concluded Murphree was not truthful on six key questions, including one in which she was reportedly asked if she had fabricated the story. Levy stated that the Enquirer decided not to print her story due to the test results, her drug use, and the fact that she had arrest warrants in three states. Murphree failed questions about whether she was paid or promised money to "set up" Swaggart, and whether she made up the story in order to make money from it. [9] Both times she answered no; according to the polygraph examiner, her answers were untrue.[ citation needed ]

Swaggart's confession and defrocking

On February 21, 1988, without giving any details regarding his transgressions, Swaggart gave his now-infamous "I have sinned" speech. He spoke tearfully to his family, congregation, TV audience, and finally said "I have sinned against You, my Lord, and I would ask that Your Precious Blood would wash and cleanse every stain until it is in the seas of God's forgetfulness, not to be remembered against me anymore." [10]

The Louisiana presbytery of the Assemblies of God initially suspended Swaggart from the ministry for three months. The national presbytery of the Assemblies of God soon extended the suspension to their standard two-year suspension for sexual immorality. His return to the pulpit coincided with the end of a three-month suspension originally ordered by the Assemblies. Believing that Swaggart was not genuinely repentant in submitting to their authority, the hierarchy of the Assemblies of God immediately defrocked him, removing his credentials and ministerial license.[ citation needed ]

Swaggart then became an independent non-denominational Pentecostal minister, establishing Jimmy Swaggart Ministries, based in the Family Worship Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and the Sonlife Broadcasting Network (SBN) can be seen in the United States, as well as many other countries across the world. [11]

1991 scandal

On October 11, 1991, Swaggart was found in the company of a prostitute for a second time. He was pulled over by a police officer in Indio, California, for driving on the wrong side of the road. With him in the vehicle was a woman named Rosemary Garcia. According to Garcia, Swaggart had stopped to proposition her on the side of the road. She later told reporters, "He asked me for sex. I mean, that's why he stopped me. That's what I do. I'm a prostitute." [12] This time, rather than confessing to his congregation, Swaggart told those at Family Worship Center, "The Lord told me it's flat none of your business." [13] Swaggart's son Donnie then announced to the stunned audience that his father would be temporarily stepping down as head of Jimmy Swaggart Ministries for "a time of healing and counseling." [12]

Ministries

Son Donnie Swaggart preaching in Florida, 2018 Donnie Swaggart.jpg
Son Donnie Swaggart preaching in Florida, 2018

As of 2007 Jimmy Swaggart Ministries mainly comprised Family Worship Center, The Jimmy Swaggart Telecast, [14] radio and television programs called A Study in the Word, SonLife Radio Network, [15] a website, JSM.org; and a 24/7 cable and satellite television network, SonLife Broadcasting Network (SBN).

Swaggart's wife Frances hosts a television program, Frances and Friends, shown daily on SBN. [16] Swaggart also hosts a daily Bible study program on SBN, The Message of the Cross. His son Donnie preaches at Family Worship Center and also preaches in churches across America and abroad. [17] Donnie's son Gabriel is the ministry's youth pastor who leads Crossfire, Family Worship Center's youth ministry. [18] SBN also broadcasts all weekly services at Family Worship Center live, as well as their camp meetings.

Swaggart in 2011 Rev. Jimmy Swaggart 02.jpg
Swaggart in 2011

Radio

Swaggart started SonLife Radio on the noncommercial FM band. Unlike his previous stations, SonLife was commercial-free and did not sell time to outside ministries; the preaching and teaching were all produced in-house. The music played was primarily Southern Gospel. SonLife Radio can be received in 21 U.S. states and is streamed on the Internet. [19] Some controversy arose concerning the ministry raising money for stations that were never built.[ citation needed ]

Television

In 1973, Swaggart proposed to television producers in Nashville, Tennessee a television program including a fairly large music segment, a short sermon, and time for talking about current ministry projects, after two faltering attempts to tape the half-hour program in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. They accepted, and within weeks the Jimmy Swaggart Telecast was being broadcast around the United States.

In 1981, Swaggart launched a daily television program titled A Study in the Word. From the beginning, the primary cable channels the program was aired on were CBN Cable (now Freeform), TBN, and the old PTL Network (now the Inspiration Network).

In 2010, Jimmy Swaggart Ministries launched a 24 hour-a-day television network entitled the Sonlife Broadcasting Network (SBN), on DirecTV channel 344, Dish Network channel 257, Glorystar channel 125, AT&T U-verse, Verizon Fios, and various cable TV providers and broadcast stations. [20]

SBN is available in the U.S. through Free To Air (FTA) satellite television. [21] [22] [23] It is also available in Australia and New Zealand.

SBN is also available 24 hours a day in the United Kingdom on SKY (Channel 593), Freesat (Channel 695) and Freeview (Channel 239)

Jimmy Swaggart Bible College

In autumn 1984, Swaggart opened Jimmy Swaggart Bible College ("JSBC"). The college originally provided education and communication degrees. It flourished during the 1980s, reaching an enrollment of 1,450 students in the fall of 1987.

JSBC enrollment dropped drastically in 1988 when students left as a result of Swaggart's scandal with Debra Murphree, followed by accreditation issues. In 1988 the enrollment at the Bible college was projected to drop 72% that year but the school was planning to proceed with plans to open a theological seminary. Enrollment in August 1988 was projected to be about 400 students, compared to 1,451 students last year in 1987. The estimate was based on the number of students who had registered and the inquiries from potential students. [24] In July 1988 the college dormitories were re-branded and listed as apartments.

In 1991, after Swaggart was found in the presence of a prostitute in California, JSBC was renamed to World Evangelism Bible College and enrollment dropped to 370 students. The college shut down programs in music, physical education, secretarial science, and communications that October and disbanded its basketball team.

Presently,[ when? ] JSBC offers short term certificate programs, Associate of Arts degree programs, and a four-year Bachelor's degree program.

The College is not accredited but it is currently seeking accreditation [25]

Print

Swaggart has written about 50 Christian books offered through his ministry. [26] He is the author of the Expositor's Study Bible, [27] 13 study guides and 38 commentaries on the Bible. The ministry also publishes a monthly magazine, The Evangelist.

Family

Since October 10, 1952, Swaggart has been married to Frances Swaggart (née Anderson) (born August 9, 1937). They have one son, Donnie (born October 18, 1954), named after Jimmy Swaggart's brother who died in infancy. He has three grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. [1]

Donnie and Gabriel are also preachers, making three generations of the Swaggart family to have become involved in ministerial work. [28] [29]

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References

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  2. "Jimmy Swaggart Ministries". Jsm.org. Retrieved March 15, 2012.
  3. 1 2 Djupe, Paul A.; Olson, Laura R. (2008). Encyclopedia of American religion and politics. Checkmark Books. p. 430. ISBN   978-0-8160-7555-3 . Retrieved March 13, 2011.
  4. Unconquered: The Saga of Cousins Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Swaggart, and Mickey Gilley 488 pages Brown Books Publishing Group (May 1, 2012), English ISBN   978-1612540412
  5. Jimmy Swaggart; Robert Paul Lamb (1984). To cross a river (3rd ed.). Baton Rouge, La.: Jimmy Swaggart Ministries. ISBN   978-0-88270-221-6.
  6. 1 2 Kaufman, Joanne (March 7, 1988). "The Fall of Jimmy Swaggart". People. Retrieved October 18, 2013.
  7. Applebome, Peter (February 25, 1988). "Scandal Spurs Interest In Swaggart Finances" . Retrieved May 27, 2014.
  8. Associated Press. Ocala Star-Banner , February 27, 1988.[ full citation needed ]
  9. Toronto Star , February 27, 1988.[ full citation needed ]
  10. Swaggart, Jimmy. "Reverend Jimmy Swaggart: Apology Sermon". americanrhetoric.com. Retrieved January 25, 2007.
  11. Dept., JSM Web. "Family Worship Center - Jimmy Swaggart Ministries - Baton Rouge" . Retrieved 15 April 2017.
  12. 1 2 "Swaggart Plans to Step Down". The New York Times. October 15, 1991. Retrieved January 25, 2007.
  13. "Scandals: No Apologies This Time". Time . October 28, 1991
  14. "Jimmy Swaggart Ministries – TV Programming". Archived from the original on January 23, 2007. Retrieved January 28, 2007.
  15. "Jimmy Swaggart Ministries – SonLife Radio". Archived from the original on February 2, 2007. Retrieved February 22, 2007.
  16. "Frances and Friends".
  17. "Donnie Swaggart".
  18. "CrossFire".
  19. "SonLife Broadcasting Network | SBN | Jimmy Swaggart Ministries". sonlifetv.com. Retrieved 2019-03-28.
  20. "Sonlife Broadcasting Network". SonLife Broadcasting Network.
  21. "Galaxy 19 at 97.0°W". LyngSat. Retrieved 2013-04-13.
  22. "SonLife Broadcasting Network". LyngSat. Retrieved 2013-04-13.
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  24. http://articles.latimes.com/1988-07-23/local/me-6426_1_jimmy-swaggart-bible-college
  25. "F.A.Q's". Jimmy Swaggart Bible College and Seminary. Retrieved 2018-07-31.
  26. "Books by Jimmy Swaggart (Author of The Expositor's Study Bible KJVersion/Concordance)". Goodreads.com. Retrieved March 15, 2012.
  27. Swaggart, Jimmy (August 9, 2005). The Expositor's Study Bible KJVersion/Concordance. Jimmy Swaggart Ministries. ISBN   9780976953005 . Retrieved March 15, 2012.
  28. Dept., JSM Web. "SonLife Broadcasting Network - SBN - Jimmy Swaggart Ministries" . Retrieved 15 April 2017.
  29. Dept., JSM Web. "JSM Ministers - Pastors - Jimmy Swaggart Ministries - Family Worship Center" . Retrieved 15 April 2017.