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Jimmy Swaggart

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Jimmy Swaggart, born March 15, 1935 in Ferriday, Louisiana, is a Christian preacher and pioneer of televangelism who reached the height of his popularity in the 1980s, prior to a highly publicized prostitution controversy in 1988.

Swaggart is also the cousin of rock legend Jerry Lee Lewis and country musician Mickey Gilley, all three of whom played the piano.

Controversy

  • Later that year, Swaggart destroyed a rival evangelist, Marvin Gorman, over an affair Gorman had. Gorman retaliated because he knew Swaggart was doing the same thing. In 1987, Swaggart was involved with a prostitute at a Baton Rouge hotel when Gorman and some associates flattened Swaggart's tires, went and got cameras, and 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 refused to do so. Only after much wraggling did Gorman take copies of the photographs to the Assemblies of God headquarters in Springfield, Missouri. 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 confessed that he was guilty of an unspecified sin and would be temporarily leaving the pulpit. Swaggart lost much of his audience after this event. Swaggart 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).
  • In November 1991, he was stopped for speeding. In the car with him was another prostitute. Soon after, he was told to leave the church he pastored, but he did not do so. Swaggart kept his church and began preaching again years later. In 1995, Swaggart was again pulled over this time in California with a prostitute in the car.
  • 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 "Purpose Driven Life."
  • In mid-September 2004, Swaggart, in a politically charged sermon, said that he would kill gay men:
"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] (http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/po/20040921/co_po/evangelistthreatenstokillgaymen)

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

  • When televangelist Jimmy Swaggart said he would kill a homosexual who looked at him romantically, during a discussion of same-sex marriage on a Sept. 12 2004 broadcast that was carried by the Toronto, Ontario station Omni 1, he violated the ethics code of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB), an industry panel has ruled. “I’m going to be blunt and plain: If one ever looks at me like that, I’m going to kill him and tell God he died,” Swaggart said. Swaggart also said that politicians who are undecided on the issue of same-sex marriage “…all oughta have to marry a pig and live with him forever.” The comments prompted complaints that were filed with the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, the arm of the CAB that deals with viewer feedback. Omni 1 issued an on-air apology shortly after the broadcast. There were some calls to have Swaggart charged with hate crimes for advocating violence against an identifiable segment of society.

Sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code of Canada address hate crimes.

Under Section 318, it is a criminal act to "advocate or promote genocide" - to call for, support, encourage or argue for the killing of members of a group based on colour, race, religion or ethnic origin. As of April 29, 2004, when Bill C-250, put forward by NDP MP Svend Robinson, was given royal assent, "sexual orientation" was added to that list.

Section 319 deals with publicly stirring up or inciting hatred against an identifiable group based on colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation. It is illegal to communicate hatred in a public place by telephone, broadcast or through other audio or visual means. The same section protects people from being charged with a hate crime if their statements are truthful or the expression of a religious opinion.

Swaggart's utterings are not the opinion of any religion, but are those of an individual (himself), and are subject to Sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

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