Nearly 25 years after his ministry was rocked by sex scandals involving prostitutes the Pentecostal minister is back on the scene with his own television network.
Baton Rouge -
Twenty four years ago Jimmy Swaggart's world seemingly came crashing down
around him as a private investigation revealed he had solicited prostitutes. The fiery Louisianian preacher who had railed against social ills, promiscuity, homosexuality and pornography was caught being a hypocrite by a man that he himself had allegedly outed as having adulterous affairs Marvin Gorman. Swaggart was defrocked by the national Assemblies of God presbytery for violating their 2 year suspension on preaching according to People magazine. Returning instead after his three months suspension from the Louisiana presbytery was complete. By that time most of his Bible College students had left and his "I Have Sinned" confession had been made infamous.
It would be 3 years later in Indio, CA
. during a crusade that Swaggart was again caught with a prostitute in the passenger seat of his Jaguar after being pulled over for driving on the wrong side of the road. Although he wasn't charged with soliciting, nor caught in the act, he was given a ticket which he paid by mail and his ministry was once again in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. It would be here that many saw the last of the over six foot, former aspiring boxer turned evangelist from Ferriday Louisiana.
However it was in late 2009 that Jimmy Swaggart and his ministry in Baton Rouge launched the SonLife Broadcasting Network a 24/7 television network which features Jimmy Swaggart's preaching, although his message has not changed too much, his delivery has to degree. Gone is some of the abrasive style, and tough tone with which he angered Catholics, called Jim Bakker a cancer on the body of Christ, and urged listeners to strive for righteousness. Now Swaggart is gentler, and tells viewers stories of pass crusades, antidotes about life as a poor boy in Ferriday and growing up with cousin Jerry Lee Lewis, as well as his 3 great grandchildren mixed in with his sermons. Although Swaggart still managed to anger homosexuals when joking once of hypothetically shooting a man
if he looked at him with lust.
Swaggart is aided now by his only son Donnie Swaggart, as well as his grandson Gabriel Swaggart and a dozen other ministers including Loren Larson a former drug addict and dealer who says Swaggart's preaching helped change his life, who is now the President of World Evangelism Bible College once named after Jimmy Swaggart himself.
The SonLife Broadcasting Network
now boasts broadcasting in 60 million households within the United States alone as well as 14 million homes in the United Kingdom, and present on satellites in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Jimmy Swaggart has gone on to publish nearly two dozen books through his ministry including an Expositor Study Bible which has sold nearly a million copies. Like many other religious networks on television SonLife Broadcasting makes an appeal to viewers every month for donations to purchase airtime on satellites. The $2 Million goal usually falls short by a couple hundred thousand dollars, but still raises over a million dollars each month.
The main staple of Jimmy Swaggart's ministry today is his 'preaching of the cross' according to a statement that is found on their website and can be heard continuously on their programming. Swaggart describes it as a revelation of what the Apostle Paul taught revealed to him in 1997 after a decade of prayer. Jimmy Swaggart says it is not just the key for Christians seeking to live for God but the only key. Psychology, self improvement, word of faith is all rejected what is preached is an exclusive reliance on faith in 'what Jesus Christ did on the cross' some 2,000 years ago.
Associate Pastor Donnie Swaggart, has called so called 'prosperity preachers' like T.D. Jakes, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, Paula White, and Mike Murdoch 'prosperity pimps
' making the claim that they are only swindling believers out of their money. Swaggart's ministry has been accused of misusing tax free donations
themselves in an investigation by journalist John Camp although the salaries of Jimmy Swaggart and his wife, Frances believed to be between $300,000 and $600,000 a year is no where near the reported salaries of other televangelist like Joel Osteen who is said to be worth $40 Million or T.D. Jakes rumored to be worth $18 Million. The accusations have centered around land deals made by the ministry none of which however fund the $24 Million budget for the television network or the $60 Million budget for Swaggart's Family Worship Center, a five thousand seat church on Blue Bonnet Road in Baton Rouge.
At one time Swaggart's church dedicated in the 1970's was packed to capacity, today viewing the Sunday service aired live weekly reveals the floor seats mostly filled but the upper balcony empty. Yet Swaggart's ministry claims an average of a hundred new members weekly through it's 'media church' people sitting at home watching the services live who are made members of the church at no cost.
Youth Pastor Gabriel Swaggart, grandson of Jimmy Swaggart has followed in his grandfather's footsteps calling Christian Rock music as well as Christian Rap 'of the devil' and calling on pastors across the country to 'return to the word of God' in the same style of preaching as his grandfather some 20 years ago. It's Gabriel's ministry that hosts an international youth conference each year which brings in hundreds of teenagers and young adults according to his Crossfire Youth Ministry
Just over the weekend Swaggart's ministry hosted it's Easter camp meeting which saw thousands of followers according to Jimmy Swaggart ministries travel to Baton Rouge for 15 services over the course of four days aired live over Swaggart's network.
Nearly 25 years later Jimmy Swaggart's ministry and career has come full circle, starting out with just a half hour program on the radio in the 1950's, and moving to his heyday of telecasts in the late 70's and 80's which saw Swaggart fill auditoriums and stadiums to capacity. After a downfall the pentecostal minister has returned to television now 24/7 and on a path to be reaching every single home in America as Swaggart's ministry announces new cables weekly. Jimmy Swaggart is clearly making a comeback.