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The TV Evangelists (1) Jimmy Swaggart

Jimmy Lee Swaggart (born March 15, 1935 in Ferriday, Louisiana) is a Pentecostal preacher and pioneer of televangelism who reached the height of his popularity in the 1980s. Swaggart is first cousin of recording artists Jerry Lee Lewis and Mickey Gilley. The sons of three sisters, all of them share similar middle names and play the piano. All were born within a year of one another.

Swaggart is the son of a Baptist minister and started preaching on street corners at the age of nine. He established a media empire buying up radio stations to separate as many gullible Americans from their money as possible ‘spread the word of God’ but by the mid 70’s his attention had turned to TV. By 1983 he was the most popular TV evangelist in the USA.

In 1986, Swaggart exposed fellow Assemblies of God minister Marvin Gorman, who was accused of having an affair with another pastor’s wife, who was at the time undergoing counseling with Pastor Gorman. Some said this was done out of fear that Gorman was taking away from Swaggart’s audience and donations. Gorman was based in New Orleans and was adding stations throughout the southern region and was beginning to add stations on the west coast and the northeast. Gorman was also in the planning stages for a weekday telecast. Once exposed, Gorman was defrocked from the Assemblies of God and his ministry all but ended.
The following year, Swaggart exposed fellow Assemblies Of God televangelist Jim Bakker’s sexual indiscretions and appeared on the Larry King Show, stating that Bakker was a “cancer in the body of Christ.” He and similarly-minded Baptist evangelist Jerry Falwell investigated Jim Bakker and eventually discovered his indiscretions. In 1987, Jim Bakker’s ministry was falling apart as a result.

As a retaliatory move, Marvin Gorman hired a private detective to follow Swaggart. The detective found Swaggart in a Louisiana motel on Airline Highway with a prostitute, Debra Murphree, and took pictures of the tryst. Gorman presented Swaggart with the photos in a blackmail attempt to force Swaggart to come clean, but Swaggart refused. Gorman then presented the pictures to the presbytery leadership of the Assemblies of God, which decided that Swaggart should be suspended from broadcasting his television program for three months. Perhaps only by watching the video above can anyone jusdge the level of Swaggart’s contrition.

On February 21, 1988, without giving the details of his transgressions, Swaggart 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.” On a New Orleans morning news show four days later, Murphree stated that while Swaggart was a regular customer, they had never engaged in intercourse.

Against the ruling of the governing body of the Assemblies of God, Swaggart returned to his television pulpit long before his three-month suspension expired. He stated, “If I do not return to the pulpit this weekend, millions of people will go to hell.” Believing that Swaggart was not genuinely repentant in not submitting to their authority, the Assemblies of God immediately defrocked Swaggart, removing his credentials and ministerial license.

On October 11, 1991, Swaggart was found in the company of another prostitute, Rosemary Garcia, when he was pulled over by the California Highway Patrol in Indio, California, for driving on the wrong side of the street. 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.”Rather than confessing to his congregation, Swaggart told his flock this time that “The Lord told me it’s flat none of your business.” His 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.”

Swaggart’s escapades have been celebrated in song at least twice from two very different sources. First of all this revenge attack from Ozzy Osbourne who had been attacked by Swaggart as being a Satanist for his 1980 record ‘Suicide Solution’.

And this is the third part of Frank Zappa’s Texas Motel Medley which uses three Beatles songs to satirize TV evangelists in general and in this song Swaggart in particular.


(Transcription from Rochester, NY, March 11, 1988 by Douglas Obrecht)

Let me take you down, ’cause we’re going to… the Texas Motel.
Don’t mind the smell.
It’s nothing to get hung about.
Please leave your cash on the table.

Weeping looks better with eyes closed…
While I’m confessing all my sins.
[Oh, please forgive me. Oh, I’ve sinned!]
It’s getting hard to plook someone, but it all works out.
It’s all pornography to Jim.

Let me take you down, ’cause we’re going to… the Texas Motel.
We might go to hell.
But we’ll have lots of company.
Falwell and Pat and that weasel.

No one knows who’s in my dream…
[Bud McFarlane, ladies & gentlemen]
I mean it must be high or low. (I think)
[freshly indicted] I mean, I can’t you know, tune in, but it’s all right.
[He can plea bargain this one]
That is, I think it’s not too bad.

Let me take you down, ’cause we’re going to… the Texas Motel.
Don’t mind the smell.
It’s just some jizz from Jimmy-boy.
How ’bout some hay for the donkey?

No one knows, sometimes think it’s me…
[Ed Meese, ladies & gentlemen] But you know, I know when it’s a dream.
[I think]
I think I know, I mean, I guess, but it’s all wrong.
[Wait a minute, that’s right]
That is, I think I disagree. [Uhh…]

Let me take you down, ’cause we’re going to… the Texas Motel.
Don’t mind the smell.
It’s just some old pornography.
Just keep on strokin’ that sausage.
Just keep on strokin’ that sausage.
[Jimmy-boy!] Just keep on strokin’ that sausage.

Source of information: Wikipedia