Jimmy Swaggart: Wikis


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Jimmy Lee Swaggart
Born March 15, 1935 (1935-03-15) (age 74)
Ferriday, Louisiana, USA
Occupation Televangelist, preacher, singer, musician, writer

Jimmy Lee Swaggart (born March 15, 1935) is a non-denominational American pastor, teacher, singer, pianist, and televangelist who was involved in a high-profile 1988 sex scandal. He has preached to capacity crowds[citation needed] around the world and pioneered televangelism through his weekly telecast. According to the official website for Jimmy Swaggart Ministries, his 1980's telecast was transmitted to over 3,000 stations and cable systems each week.[1] Swaggart's telecasts were seen by more than 8 million people in the United States and by more than 500 million people worldwide.[citation needed]

Swaggart's television ministry that began in 1975 continues today airing nationally and internationally to a potential viewing audience of over 80 million.[citation needed] The weekly "Jimmy Swaggart Telecast" and "A Study in the Word" programs are seen nationwide and abroad on 78 channels in 104 countries as well as live over the internet.

In February 1988, Swaggart stirred controversy after a private investigation found he had solicited a prostitute for sex. Initially Swaggart denied the accusations, but as a media investigation proceeded he acknowledged that some allegations were true. He later apologized for the acts in a televised broadcast.


Early life

Swaggart was born on March 15, 1935 in Ferriday, Louisiana to Willie Leon (a.k.a., "Son") and Minnie Belle (née Herron) Swaggart. At the age of four, Swaggart's parents lost an infant son, Donnie, to pneumonia. With his parents, Swaggart attended a small, 25-member Assemblies of God congregation in Ferriday. At the age of nine, Jimmy began to preach on street corners and lead congregations in singing.[citation needed] On October 10, 1952, at 17 years of age, Swaggart married Frances Anderson. Their son Donnie was born in 1954. Swaggart worked several part-time odd jobs in order to support his young family and also began singing Southern Gospel music at various Baptist and Pentecostal churches.

According to his biography, Swaggart, along with his wife and son, lived in poverty during the 1950s as he preached throughout rural Louisiana, struggling to survive on thirty dollars a week and often going to bed hungry.[citation needed] Being too poor to own a home, the Swaggart's lived in church basements, pastor's houses and small hotels. Sam Phillips, the record producer and recording studio owner and founder of Sun Records who discovered Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Charlie Rich, wanted Swaggart to take part in a gospel line of music for Sun as the label's first gospel artist. His cousin Jerry Lee Lewis, who had previously signed with Sun Records, was now reportedly making $20,000 per week. Although the offer meant significant income for his family, Swaggart turned him down stating that he was called to preach the gospel.[2]

Ordination and early career

Preaching from a flatbed trailer donated to him, Swaggart began full-time evangelistic work in 1955. It was then that Swaggart began developing a revival-meeting following throughout the American South. Swaggart began attending Bible college in 1957. In 1960, he began recording gospel music record albums while building up another audience via Christian radio stations. In 1961, after graduating from Bible college, Swaggart was ordained by the Assemblies of God; one year later, Swaggart began his radio ministry. By 1969, Swaggart's radio program, “The Camp Meeting Hour,” was being aired over numerous radio stations throughout the American Bible Belt.[citation needed] 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. The Family Worship Center grew from barely 40 members in 1970 to over 500 by 1975 and over 1000 by 1980.[citation needed] During the 1970s the church grew from a one room church to a more modern building with new additions being built every couple years.

In the late 1960s, Swaggart began airing a weekly 30 minute telecast over various local television stations in that city and also purchased a local AM radio station WLUX in Baton Rouge (now WPFC). The station broadcast Christian features stories, preaching and teaching from various fundamentalist and Pentecostal denominations and played a blend of Black Gospel, Southern gospel, and inspirational music. As Contemporary Christian Music became more prevalent, the station avoided playing it. Swaggart would ultimately sell his radio stations gradually throughout the 1980s and early 1990s.

Shifting to television

By 1975, Swaggart's television ministry had expanded to more stations around the US; it was at this time that he decided to use television as his primary preaching venue. In 1978, Swaggart's weekly telecast was expanded to an hour.

In 1980, Swaggart began a daily weekday telecast featuring Bible study and music while the weekend, hour-long telecast would feature a sermon from either the Family Worship Center or an on-location crusade. In the early 1980s, Swaggart's crusades expanded to major cities nationwide. By 1983, Swaggart had become the most popular television preacher in the United States.[citation needed] with more than 250 television stations broadcasting his program.[citation needed]

Controversies, scandals and criticisms

In 1988, Swaggart was implicated in a sex scandal involving a prostitute that resulted initially in his suspension and ultimately Swaggart was defrocked and removed from the ministry by the Assemblies of God. Three years later, Swaggart was again implicated in a sex scandal involving a prostitute. As a result, Swaggart's current ministries are non-affiliated and non-denominational.

1988 scandal - background

Swaggart's exposure came as retaliation for an incident in 1986 when Swaggart exposed New Orleans-based, fellow Assemblies of God minister Marvin Gorman. Gorman had been accused of having several affairs. Once exposed, Gorman was defrocked from the Assemblies of God with his ministry all but ended.

As a retaliatory move, Marvin Gorman hired his son Randy Gorman along with his son in law Garland Biblo, to stake out the Travel Inn on Airline Highway in New Orleans. A camera with a telephoto lens was placed in the window of the motel's room 12 and draped with a black cloth. When Swaggart arrived, he reportedly went into room 7. Randy Gorman and Garland Bilbo proceeded to let the air out of Swaggart's tires and called Marvin Gorman, whose church was located nearby. The two had taken photos of Swaggart outside of room 7 with Debra Murphree, a locally known prostitute. Gorman showed up at the Travel Inn a short while later, and asked Swaggart what he was doing there.

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 Jimmy would state publicly that he lied about Gorman's affairs. Gorman waited almost a year, then hand delivered a note to Jimmy Swaggart informing him his time was up, but Swaggart did not respond. On Tuesday February 16, 1988, Gorman contacted James Hamil one of the 13 man Executive Presbytery of the Assemblies of God. Hamill in turn called Raymond Carlson, the Assemblies Superintendent. He summoned Hamill and Gorman to fly to Springfield and arranged for an emergency meeting of the presbyters. Carlson 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 in order to establish the fact that the room was being used for prostitution. One of the men seen leaving room 7 was Jimmy Swaggart The presbytery leadership of the Assemblies of God, decided that Swaggart should be suspended from broadcasting his television program for three months.

According to the Associated Press (as reported in the Saturday February 27, 1988 edition of the Ocala Star-Banner), the prostitute that claimed to have posed nude for Swaggart failed a lie detector test administered by a New York City Police Department polygraph expert. 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 National 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. The February 27, 1988 edition of the Toronto Star reported that Debra Murphree, 28, 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. Both times she answered no; this was determined by the polygraph examiner to be a lie.

1988 scandal - Swaggart's confession and fallout

Swaggart's confession

On February 21, 1988, without giving any details regarding his transgressions, Swaggart gave his now infamous "I Have Sinned" speech as he tearfully spoke to his family, congregation and audience, saying, "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 forgiveness."[3] On a New Orleans morning news show four days later, Murphree stated that while Swaggart was a regular customer, they had never engaged in sexual intercourse.[4] The clip of Swaggart's confession was played repeatedly on news and tabloid television programs.

The Louisiana presbytery of the Assemblies of God initially suspended Jimmy 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 not submitting to their authority, the hierarchy of the Assemblies of God immediately defrocked Swaggart, removing his credentials and ministerial license. It was then that Swaggart decided he would be an independent, non-denominational Pentecostal minister and the Family Worship Center would become non-denominational.

1991 scandal

On October 11, 1991, Swaggart was found, for the second time, in the company of a prostitute, Rosemary Garcia,[5] when he was pulled over by the California Highway Patrol in Indio, California, for driving on the wrong side of the road. According to Garcia, Swaggart stopped to proposition her on the side of the road. When the patrolman asked Garcia why she was with Swaggart, she replied, "He asked me for sex. I mean, that's why he stopped me. That's what I do. I'm a prostitute."[6][7] Rather than confessing to his congregation, Swaggart told those at Family Worship Center that "The Lord told me it's flat none of your business."[8][9][10] Swaggart's son 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."

Criticism of Christian rock and metal music

Swaggart wrote a book criticizing the Christian rock and metal movements titled Religious Rock n' Roll – A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing in 1987. The book criticized the scene for using heavy metal music to preach the gospel of Christianity, calling rock music the music of the devil. Ironically, it was Swaggart who helped convert Michael Sweet and Robert Sweet, two of the founding members of the band Stryper.[11][12] Also criticized by Swaggart were Larry Norman (the "father of Christian rock"), Petra, Mylon LeFevre, Steve Taylor and other notable Christian rock and metal bands.[13]

In 1986, Swaggart called rock music "the new pornography."[14]


Music Ministry

Since recording his first album, the center of Swaggart's ministry has been his music.[citation needed] His first album, Some Golden Daybreak, was created to be an album he could give people at his early revivals. Swaggart's wife began encouraging him to contact radio stations. Disc jockey Chuck Cossin is credited with playing the first Jimmy Swaggart recording on WMUZ in Detroit.[citation needed]

In 1974 Swaggart was voted Favorite Gospel Music Artist for the album Singing News. In 1977 Record World magazine honored him as Male Vocalist of the Year. In that same year Swaggart was a Dove Award finalist in three categories: Male Vocalist of the Year, TV Program of the Year, and Instrumentalist of the Year. Again in 1978 Swaggart became a Dove finalist as Instrumentalist of the Year. In 1980, Swaggart became a Dove Award finalist in four Categories: Children's Album of the Year for "Color Me a Story," Instrumentalist of the Year, Year's best Traditional Album for "Homeward Bound," and Best Gospel Album of the Year for "Worship," The secular Grammy Awards nominated Swaggart's album "Live from Nashville" for Best Gospel Album in 1976. And again in 1980, Swaggart's album, "Worship", became a Grammy finalist.

Radio Ministry

Swaggart originated Sonlife Radio on the uncommercialized FM band. Unlike his previous stations, Sonlife was commercial free and would not sell time to outside ministries and the preaching and teaching would all be produced "in house". The music played was primarily Southern Gospel.

Television Ministry

In 1973, Swaggart wanted to create a television program which would include a fairly large music segment, a short sermon, and time for talking about about current ministry projects. After two faltering attempts to tape the half-hour program in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana, Swaggart went to television producers in Nashville, Tennessee with his proposal. They accepted and within weeks the Jimmy Swaggart Telecast was being broadcast into television markets around the Unted States.

In 1981 Jimmy Swaggart launched a daily television program titled A Study in the Word. In the 1980s the program was aired on over 160 channels throughout the U.S., Canada and abroad and is still seen today on over 78 stations in 104 countries.[citation needed] From the beginning, the primary cable channels the program was aired on were CBN Cable (now ABC Family), TBN, and PTL (now Inspiration Network).

World Evangelism Bible College

In the fall of 1984, Swaggart opened Jimmy Swaggart Bible College - now known as World Evangelism Bible College, or WEBC. The college began as a means of preparing young men and women for Christian ministry and is still considered by Swaggart's to be a vital extension of Jimmy Swaggart's World Wide Ministry. Currently, WEBC offers three levels of degrees: (1) Intensive short term certificate programs, (2) Associate of Arts degree programs, and (3) a four year Bachelor's Degree programs.


Swaggart is the author of several Christian works offered through his ministry, as well as an autobiography To Cross a River and a personal account of the 1988 scandal The Cup Which My Father Hath Given Me: A Biblical Revelation of Personal Spiritual Warfare. He is the author of the "Expositor's Study Bible," 13 Study Guides and 30 Commentaries on the Bible.

Current ministry

Once a worldwide multi-million-dollar ministry, Jimmy Swaggart Ministries today mainly comprises the Family Worship Center, The Jimmy Swaggart Telecast,[15] radio and television programs called A Study in the Word, (SonLife Radio Network),[16], and a website, JSM.org. Swaggart's wife, Frances, has a radio program called "Frances and Friends" heard daily on the SonLife Radio Network.[17] His son, Donnie Swaggart, preaches at the Family Worship Center and also preaches in churches across the US and abroad.[18] Jimmy's grandson, Gabriel, is a preacher, and leads the Family Worship Center youth ministry, Crossfire.[19] Sonlife radio is heard in 22 states[20]


Swaggart is married to Frances (née Anderson) Swaggart and has one son, Donnie Swaggart. He has three grandchildren, Jennifer, Gabriel and Matthew Swaggart, and two great-grandchildren, Samantha and Ryder Swaggart.[21]

In popular culture

  • The Swaggart sex scandal was heavily satirized by musician Frank Zappa in a three-song medley referred to by band members as the "Texas Motel Medley", consisting of three songs by the Beatles with the lyrics changed to reflect the events. While the Texas Motel Medley itself was never released due to copyright concerns, several references to the incident can be heard on the live albums The Best Band You Never Heard in Your Life and Broadway the Hard Way. The latter album's tracks "What Kind of Girl?" and "Jesus Thinks You're A Jerk" also deal with these events.
  • One of the most famous samples in industrial music is Swaggart thundering "No sex until marriage!", as heard on the Front 242 track "Welcome to Paradise" -- released, ironically, in 1988, the year his first sex scandal broke.
  • The band Electric Hellfire Club sampled Swaggart's "I have sinned against you, my Lord" in a song called "Hypochristian" released on the "Electronomicon" album.
  • Swaggart is referenced in a 1988 episode of Golden Girls titled "Rose's Big Adventure."
  • Swaggart is referenced in The Tractors song "Baby Likes to Rock It".
  • Swaggart is referenced in the Cinderella song "Shelter Me". In the video for the song, Swaggart is depicted bursting out of a closet surrounded by skeletons, and also sobbing behind a flaming pulpit.
  • Ozzy Osbourne's song "Miracle Man", on the 1988 album No Rest For The Wicked, is about the Swaggart's 1988 prostitution scandal and the general hypocrisy, in Osbourne's eyes, of "televangelists". In the video for the song, Zakk Wylde wears a mask with the likeness of Swaggart and Ozzy cavorts with swine, his pants around his ankles, carrying around a large staff decorated with a dollar sign. Within the song, Jimmy Swaggart is referred as "our Jimmy Sinner" many times by Ozzy.
  • Swaggart is referenced in the Dr. Dre song "Lyrical Gangbang", on the album The Chronic
  • Swaggart is mentioned in XTC song Merely a Man on their album Oranges and Lemons. During their U.S. acoustic radio tour for the aforementioned album in 1989, XTC altered their song Dear God to include Swaggart's name.

See also


  1. ^ Official Jimmy Swaggart Ministries website (www.jsm.org)
  2. ^ Jimmy Swaggart, To Cross a River, Logos International, 1977
  3. ^ Swaggart, Jimmy. "Reverend Jimmy Swaggart: Apology Sermon". americanrhetoric.com. http://americanrhetoric.com/speeches/jswaggartapologysermon.html. Retrieved 2007-01-25. 
  4. ^ "Jimmy Swaggart@Everything2.com". http://everything2.com/title/Jimmy%2520Swaggart. 
  5. ^ "Swaggart Plans to Step Down". The New York Times. October 15, 1991. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0CE5DA1E3BF936A25753C1A967958260. Retrieved 2007-01-25. 
  6. ^ Swaggart Plans to Step Down New York Times
  7. ^ The Newsletter of The North Texas Skeptics
  8. ^ American Notes ScandalsTime
  9. ^ The arrogance of power Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
  10. ^ BBC ON THIS DAY | 21 | 1988: TV evangelist quits over sex scandal
  11. ^ "History of Christian Rock/Metal part 1" (in Portuguese). Rock for the King. Ope Publishing. http://www.metalfortheking.kit.net/thocrm.htm. Retrieved 2007-12-19. 
  12. ^ "History of Christian Rock/Metal part 2" (in Portuguese). Rock for the King. Ope Publishing. http://www.metalfortheking.kit.net/thocrm02.htm. Retrieved 2007-12-19. 
  13. ^ A Guide to Petra: Petra Retirement Tribute Page - post your thoughts on Petra's retirement announcement
  14. ^ Rap, Rock, and Censorship by Mathieu Deflem
  15. ^ "Jimmy Swaggart Ministries — TV Programming". http://www.jsm.org/explore.cfm/tvprogramming/cablesatellites. Retrieved 2007-01-28. 
  16. ^ "Jimmy Swaggart Ministries — SonLife Radio". http://www.jsm.org/explore.cfm/sonliferadio/programminglog. Retrieved 2007-02-22. 
  17. ^ "Frances and Friends". http://www.francesandfriends.com. 
  18. ^ "Donnie Swaggart". http://www.donnieswaggart.com. 
  19. ^ "CrossFire". http://www.crossfireyouthministry.org. 
  20. ^ "SonLife station list". http://www.jsm.org/explore.cfm/sonliferadio/stationlist. 
  21. ^ "Jimmy Swaggart Ministries — About Jimmy Swaggart". http://www.jsm.org/about_jimmy_swaggart.php. Retrieved 2009-09-18. 
  22. ^ "Skinny Puppy Sample Source List". http://www.tomstation.net/Skinny_Puppy_Sample_Sources.rtf. Retrieved 2010-01-14. 

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Jimmy Lee Swaggart (born March 15, 1935, in Ferriday, Louisiana) is a Pentecostal preacher and pioneer of televangelism.


  • Evolution is a bankrupt speculative philosophy, not a scientific fact. Only a spiritually bankrupt society could ever believe it.… Only atheists could accept this Satanic theory.

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Simple English

Jimmy Swaggert (born March 15 1935) is a televangelist (a preacher who gives services on TV of his church in Baton Rouge La. Family Worship Center is a full Gospel Interdenominational Church. at 8919 World Ministry Ave. Reverend Jimmy Swaggart first started his television ministry in 1975 and it continues today, over 33 years later, airing nationally and internationally to a potential viewing audience of over 80 million. The weekly Jimmy Swaggart Telecast and A Study in the Word are seen nationwide and abroad on 78 channels in 104 countries and live over the Internet.

Reverend Swaggart is married to Frances Swaggart and has one son, Donnie. He has three grandchildren, Jennifer, Gabriel and Matthew Swaggart, and has two great-grandchildren, Samantha and Ryder Swaggart. His beautiful wife, Frances, is a co-laborer with him and also hosts the popular SonLife Radio program, Frances and Friends. His son, Donnie Swaggart, a dynamic minister in his own right, serves with his father and also travels at home and abroad boldly preaching the unchanging Word of God. Donnie's son, Gabriel Swaggart, serves the ministry as pastor of Crossfire Youth Ministries.

Television has enabled Jimmy Swaggart Ministries to carry the Good News to people in every part of the world and his messages have been translated into 11 different languages. From the vast slums in Manila to the mission fields of Russia, television is the primary tool this ministry is using to reach countless numbers of lost souls. Reverend Jimmy Swaggart is the President of the SonLife Radio Network which is heard nationwide on over 78 stations and around the world via the internet. Since its launching on June 26 1995, SonLife Radio has striven to be a willing vessel in the advancement of the Gospel.

The principal station, POWER PRAISE 88.5 FM, is located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

He was born in Ferriday, Louisiana, USA. He is a cousin of musicians Jerry Lee Lewis and Mickey Gilley. He preaches a message called "The Cross" which is that you can only get to heaven through Jesus. 

He has also been a very controversial figure, too. He was caught with a prostitute in 1987, but later asked God (and the public) for forgiveness. He was caught again in 1991.

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