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Jimmy Swaggart's Scandals

Jimmy Swaggart

This televangelist spoke to his flock in a weekly television message carried by over three thousand stations and cable outlets every week. And he's still doing it, although on a greatly diminished scale. That's because Jimmy Swaggart has a taste for hookers and was caught with them on two separate occasions. The embarrassing scandals put a major dent in his ministry.

Louisiana born Swaggart has some well-known first cousins in the music business. He's kin to rock 'n roll pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis and country music star Mickey Gilley.

Jimmy Swaggart with Jerry Lee Lewis and Mickey Gilley

In his autobiography, Swaggart says he was a struggling preacher in his home state in the 1950's, trying to support his wife and son on $30 a week. Cousin Jerry Lee was knocking down $20,000 a week during that time. Sun records wanted Jimmy as a gospel artist but he turned them down, saying his calling was to preach the Gospel.

Jimmy attended Bible College in 1957 and by 1960 he began recording gospel music for play on Christian radio stations. By 1961, Swaggart was ordained by the Assemblies of God and began his radio ministry and started with a weekly, 30 minute telecast over various TV station. He also bought his own radio station.

Jimmy Swaggart early in his career

Fast forward to 1975, Jimmy's reach on TV is expanding and he's using TV as his primary forum. By 1983, more than 250 TV stations broadcast his message. But in 1988 he was implicated in a sex scandal with a prostitute named Debra Murphree…

Debra Murphree

...who tried to sell her story to the National Enquirer for $100,000 – which didn't print it because they said she failed to tell the truth in polygraph tests. They also noted her drug abuse and outstanding arrest warrants in three states.

On February 21, 1988, Swaggart without offering details gave his famous "I have sinned" speech.

He was suspended for three months for sexual immorality and was eventually defrocked. He came back as an independent Pentecostal minister.

In 1991, there was another hooker based scandal, with Rosemary Garcia.

Rosemary Garcia

This time instead of a confession, Jimmy's message was "It's none of your business." By 2007, he was back on the air…

Jimmy Swaggart speaking

…on SBN and SonLife Radio, heard nationally and internationally.

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