Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Today in Televangelism

February 21st, 1988: Jimmy Swaggart gives his famous "I have sinned against you" speech, blubbering and begging forgiveness after getting caught with a hooker in a Metairie, Louisiana motel. Swaggert, who helped drive fellow evangelists Jim Bakker and Marvin Gorman out of the ministry, was then defrocked himself. Clearly the irony was lost on Jimmy, as he then railed against the Assemblies of God for their lack of forgiveness. There are some good accounts of Swaggart's travails here and here.

Showing how much tougher your old school preachers were, Swaggart blamed his hooker and porn problem on demons, and had said demons cast out over the telephone by Oral Roberts--no three weeks of chickenshit Ted Haggard "counseling" for Jimmy. Nope, just one phone call.

The demons stayed cast out for at least a couple of years. In 1991 Swaggart was again caught with a prostitute. Showing that the forgiveness of his followers was near-inexhaustible, he still had a congregation. He addressed his flock: "God says it's none of your business!"

And he still has that congregation: Jimmy Swaggart Ministries.

I'd say it's clear that Rev. Swaggart has been humbled by his struggles with sins of the flesh. During his Sunday sermon on November 10, 2002, Swaggart shared his thoughts on the prophet Muhammad:

Thank God for that Baptist preacher who stood up and said at a Baptist convention, "I'm going to tell you who Muhammad is: he is a sex pervert, deviant, pedophile who married a 7-year-old girl."

You're not hearing me saints? "What did you say," you ask? The Baptist preacher before thousands said Muhammad was a sex deviant, a pervert, a pedophile. He married a 7-year-old little girl! A little girl, seven years old--that's a pedophile. And, oh, the news went crazy. "Ohhhhhhhh! Hear what he said?"

I don't know who you are, Mr. Preacher, but thank God for you--thank God for a spine that's like a Texas sawlog. Thank God for a heart that beats for Jesus Christ.

Speaking for myself, personally, if I'd ever been caught getting freaky with a series of prostitutes, I'd probably refrain from public statements. But that's just me.


Dale said...

That 'I have sinned against you' speech is one of my favourite performance pieces of all time. Way to go Jimmy!

Coaster Punchman said...

Speaking for myself, personally, if I'd ever been caught getting freaky with a series of prostitutes, I'd probably refrain from public statements.

And that's why you don't hear from me much, Bubs.

Wait, so Oral Roberts was assisting in all this? How long after that did Oral tell his congregation that God was going to murder him if the congregation didn't fork over ten million dollars or whatever that sum was? I hope you'll commemorate that date on the Compound!

Johnny Yen said...

My father, was rabidly non-religious until fairly recently, used to love watching Swaggart's performances.

Of course, great performances run in the family-- he's Jerry Lee Lewis' cousin.

Chris said...

I think you have to be completely unable to detect hypocrisy in order to keep following guys like this, like some sort of short-circuit somewhere in the brain.

He's a showman, plain and simple.

Bubs said...

Chris, you're right about followers of guys like Swaggart. There have been volumes written on the backgrounds and psych profiles of people who follow religious scam artists. Your "showman" tag is quite generous--I was thinking more along the lines of huckster, con man or snake oil salesman.

Johnny, I've always been a fan of over-the-top revival preaching. I used to watch Swaggert, Ernest Angley and a few others way back when. Thank you for bringing up the Jerry Lee Lewis connection--you can see the family resemblance.

CP, this was AFTER Roberts' "God will call me home" threat by about a year. In addition to casting out Swaggart's demons, if only for a short time, Roberts was also personally commissioned by Jeebus to find a cure for cancer.

Dale, yes it is! Thank God Dubya hasn't figured out how much us bible-totin' Americans love our tearful repentance. If he'd pulled a Swaggart a year or two ago, say, after Katrina, we'd probably still have a GOP controlled House and Dubya with 50-60% approval.