This article discusses the Jimmy Swaggart scandal and how Christians should consider it from a biblical world view. Also covered are Donnie Swaggart marriages, the Jimmy Swaggart House, Jimmy Swaggart Net Worth and the case of the Jimmy Swaggart Prostitute, or prostitutes.
By Mark W. Swarbrick
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits…Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” (Matthew 7:15)
The teaching of our Lord is that as part of examining a doctrine for its veracity we should include an examination of the life of the teacher. They may look like a sheep, talk like a sheep, and speak like a silver-tongued anointed preacher, but if they are a false prophet or false teacher there will be bad fruit continually evidenced in their life. We must examine the fruit as Jesus taught us. It has nothing to do with forgiveness. Its about discernment. This article is a sample of the information in my book Swaggartism: The Strange Doctrines of Jimmy Swaggart Ministries, which covers the Jimmy Swaggart Scandal in depth. You may click the image below to buy Swaggartism.
Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: We see from the scripture quote above that Jesus adjured us to examine the fruit of a minister’s life to determine if he is a false prophet. For that reason it is imperative to have a knowledge of Jimmy Swaggart’s past. If he was just a normal Bible teacher or pastor of a church, teaching sound biblical doctrine, then this would not matter. His past, if repented of, is forgiven and forgotten and doesn’t need to be brought up.
But for someone who claims to be an end-time apostle with a special revelation greater than the Church has known before, and who condemns other churches as false, then it behooves us to take a close look at his life, both past and present.
His sins may have been in the sea of forgetfulness, but his own claims to special superior prominence have dredged them back up. Swaggarites bitterly complain and condemn anyone who examines Swaggart’s life but the fact is Jesus commanded us to examine the fruit in order to confirm someone as a false teacher and we must do so whether anyone likes it or not. It is a matter of obedience to scripture.
Incidentally, examining the fruit does not mean that we are to consider how much money he has or how successful he is or how big his cult has grown. Swaggarites point to this as proof that Jimmy is a true apostle of God. If having riches, a large following, and great influence, is God’s stamp of approval, then we should all join the Mormon cult. No, examining the fruit means rather to reflect upon whether his life is abundant with the fruit of the Spirit, or if it exudes the deeds of the flesh.
The Hidden History: Jimmy married his 15-year-old girlfriend and entered into ministry as a singing evangelist. Unfortunately, as we shall see, his proclivity for underage girls would not end with his child bride. He eventually built a large multi-million-dollar real estate empire from donations to his television ministry.
At the height of his ministry, he was caught on camera coming out of a motel room with prostitute Debra Murphree. The prostitute said they had an ongoing sexual relationship, that Swaggart was “kinky” as he had tried to persuade her to bring her 9-year-old daughter to their sexual encounters.
According to court documents, Swaggart told the Assemblies of God that he had a “long standing sexual aberration and that he had consorted with prostitutes for many, many years.” In tears, Swaggart told Rev. Marvin Gorman, “I’ve been doing this for twenty-eight years. I have chased prostitutes in every city where I have conducted revivals or crusades.”
Besides prostitutes, Jimmy also had an ongoing adulterous affair with Catherine Kampen, a housewife he picked up at a gas station. According to Kampen, he seduced her into believing, as a rich televangelist, he could not only give her free counseling for her emotional issues, but also help her with her dream of opening her own flower shop.
During their many sexcapades that took place at her home while her husband was away at work, he would often, as he had with the prostitute Murphree, albeit unsuccessfully, try to convince her to have her underage daughter participate.
After all this hit the news, Jimmy confessed on television to some unspecified sin, hoping that the extent of his philandering would not be uncovered. In the meantime, according to Mrs. Kampen’s sworn statement, she began to receive anonymous phone calls threatening her life. “If you say anything or do anything, you’ll regret it. If you say anything about Jimmy – because we’ll burn you in your house. We’ll burn your house down around you…better leave Jimmy alone or you’re dead.”
It would not be the first or last time that the taint of murder would be associated with Jimmy Swaggart. In 1983 Jacklyn Warren was hired by Jimmy Swaggart Ministries to care for an elderly couple, Mr. and Mrs. Baugh, who had (according to their son) been pressured into willing $800,000 to JSM. The Swaggart team hired the caretaker on the same day she changed her will. Swaggart fund-raiser Gerald Johnson was involved in selecting Warren as a caretaker.
Warren beat Mrs. Baugh to death ten days after the change to her will, which bequeathed nearly one million dollars to Jimmy Swaggart Ministries. Mr. Baugh died five days later from heart issues, probably brought on by the trauma. Warren was convicted and went to prison.
Another damnatory fact is that Warren had previously served two years in prison for the beating death of another woman. How or why Jimmy Swaggart Ministries chose this murderous convict to care for Baugh is an open question.
Baugh’s son disputed the will, saying his parents were coerced and that he suspected the Swaggart’s complicity in the death. He said that Gerald Johnson, a Swaggart operative, had suggested that the Baugh’s hire caretaker Warren. Baugh’s son said that even a cursory background check would have revealed that Warren had spent two years in reform school for murder. He filed a law suit. The Swaggart’s quietly settled with the son out of court for an undisclosed amount of money in exchange for a public retraction of his statements.
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Five years later, in 1988, new information came to light resulting in a grand jury being convened to reopen the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death and to see if any Swaggart employees were responsible. Since grand jury proceedings are secret, we don’t know what was revealed. No indictments were handed down. We will never know what was revealed in the secret grand jury testimony, nor will we ever know how much it cost the Swaggarts to buy Baugh’s silence.
When Jimmy’s daughter in law had an affair with Dwain Johnson, one of the band members, Jimmy flew into a rage and told Dwain’s wife, “Tell that no good husband of yours if he is in town tomorrow, I’ll kill him!” Jimmy’s outbursts of anger where legendary and everyone took the threat seriously.
The next day Dwain was packing to leave when Swaggart pulled up to the house. Dwain ran out the back door and hid in the bushes. Through the windows he could see Jimmy stomping through every room searching for him. The next day when Dwain answered the phone it was Jimmy, angrily threatening, “I want to tell you something. I want you out of that house. I’m going to give you till Monday morning. If you’re not out first thing Monday, I’ll have you taken out on a stretcher. I won’t do it personally but I’ll have it done.”
One of Swaggart’s alleged regular prostitutes went by the name of Sexy Suzi. At the time of the discovery of Swaggart’s peccadillos, another Swaggart prostitute by the name of Peggy Carrier expressed fear for her life, apparently in regard to Swaggart. Suzi, in fear also, was reported to have cried in anguish, “I’m in trouble, I’m in trouble. Both prostitutes then disappeared and have never been seen again. Friends of the prostitutes stated that they believe Swaggart may have had them killed.
As the news outlets exposed Swaggart’s sins to the world, he met with the Assemblies of God leadership. Mercifully they offered him one year of counseling and mentoring, and required him to step down from ministry during this time so he could devote time to restoring his marriage and his relationship with God. Swaggart defiantly went back on the air two weeks later.
Swaggart had several meetings with the church authorities eventually refusing the stipulations, telling them arrogantly that he heard directly from God and didn’t need or want their help. After only two months he returned to full time ministry. Consequently, the Assemblies of God had no choice but to revoke his ordination.
Three years later, in October of 1991, Jimmy was caught again with a prostitute. This was all over the news at the time. In happened in Indio, California. Swaggart, noticing a police car, tried to stuff his porn magazines under the seat. This caused him to swerve momentarily into the wrong lane. He was stopped by police for driving on the wrong side of the road.
He had just picked up a prostitute by the name of Rosemary Garcia and he had her in the car with him. She told officers that Swaggart had solicited her for sex. But this time Jimmy didn’t cry and confess. He stood before his church and said, “God has told me it is flat none of your business.” He continued to pastor the church.
Four years later, in 1995, Jimmy was caught a third time. In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in a red-light district known as The Strip, Jimmy was pulled over by police under suspicion of soliciting a prostitute. The officer found pornography underneath Jimmy’s car seat. He was released in this instance as there wasn’t sufficient evidence to convict in court.
When a public figure such as a television evangelist commits such egregious transgressions, a public statement of remorse is expected. No such repentance has ever been demonstrated for these last two escapades.
Presumably there were many more exploits than the several in which he was found out. In any event, “Its flat none of your business” is not repentance. Additionally, he has never expressed repentance for his defiance of the Assemblies of God and going back on his word that he had given to operate under the authority and guidelines of that denomination. Repentance is a prerequisite for forgiveness.
There are three YouTube videos that cover many of these scandals and anyone interested in the truth about Jimmy Swaggart should watch them. They are entitled as follows:
1. Part One – Christian Televangelist Jimmy Swaggart Investigation – John Camp for CNN
2. Part Two – Jimmy Swaggart Investigation -John Camp for CNN
One can google those titles and watch these informative investigations into Swaggart’s past. Jesus’ words bear repeating: “You will know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16)
There has been one scandal after another at JSM. Money scandals particularly. Money would be solicited for children or medicine or to further the ministry, but then the money would be redirected into the pockets of Jimmy Swaggart and his family, to buy such things as a $30,000 Rolex watch, a fleet of new Mercedes, multi-million-dollar mansions, a private jet, and a 50,000 per year country club membership.
Books have been written about his extravagant lifestyle. Hard earned money given by struggling people who wanted to further the Kingdom of God has been used to build a real-estate empire for the grandiose extravagant luxurious lifestyle of the Swaggart family.
In comparison to Jimmy Swaggart’s rich lifestyle, Rev. Billy Graham’s home and lifestyle are quite modest. But according to Swaggart, Billy Graham is “of little worth to the Kingdom of God” because he doesn’t speak in tongues.
Swaggart Repeatedly Sued in Court
Dake Publishing successfully sued Jimmy Swaggart Ministries for copyright infringement and plagiarism. There have been fraudulent land deals and suspicious business dealings. Swaggart’s real-estate business partner went to prison. Swaggarites complain bitterly if anything bad is said about their beloved prophet, but Swaggart is constantly maligning others, and getting sued for it.
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Swaggart himself was found guilty of defamation of character against a fellow minister, Marvin Gorman, an Assemblies of God minister. In his book, Let us Prey, Gorman’s attorney, Hunter Lundy describes the sworn testimony at trial which reveals the dark side of Jimmy Swaggart. The testimony reveals Jimmy Swaggart as a man obsessed to the point of distraction over any minister who might become famous enough to rival his own popularity.
Swaggart was the instigator of a massive smear campaign to malign fellow Assembly of God minister Marvin Gorman simply because his TV network had the possibility of attracting more viewers than his own. In short, Swaggart ruined Gorman’s career and financial standing because he was jealous of him. That is what the evidence presented at trial revealed and the jury found Swaggart guilty. Of Swaggart’s defamation of Gorman, Lundy writes,
“It was a deliberate program of character assassination and defamation orchestrated and performed by the entire Swaggart establishment.”
As the testimony unfolded it became increasingly clear that Swaggart’s jealousy had prompted him to manufacture vicious lies about Gorman. At one point, while Swaggart was on the witness stand, he apparently believed that he could sway the jury with the same mesmerizing charisma in which he wowed his television audience. Turning to Gorman Swaggart sanctimoniously declared:
“Marvin, let me tell you something, partner. If you don’t straighten this thing out with God, when you die you are going to hell!”
Swaggart’s defense attorneys were aghast. The judge, in so many words, told Swaggart to shut up. Gorman’s attorneys were delighted. The jury was certainly impressed, but in the opposite way that Swaggart had hoped.
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Swaggart’s own testimony at the trial revealed his true character for the jurors and the world to see: Lundy writes:
“Jimmy Swaggart was basically a naïve and ignorant man, an ill-educated bumpkin who had somehow stumbled into greatness – into celebrity – by virtue of God-given talents and an imperfect understanding of human nature. He had instinctively mastered the powers that came from combining spectacular showmanship with faux eloquence to exploit the masses, to move millions to emotional expression to enrich himself and enhance his personal status.”
The jury convicted Swaggart and ordered him to pay ten million dollars restitution. Lundy concludes, “We proved what we set out to prove, that Jimmy Swaggart was a liar and a self-righteous hypocrite…”
Can a Leopard change his spots?
These evil things were done by Swaggart after he got saved and while he was portraying himself to the world as a holy righteous man of God. Swaggart would have us believe that now that he got his new revelation from God, that he is a changed man. But can a leopard change his spots?
Except for being born again, people don’t change that much. Whatever tendencies a person develops when young, whether good or bad, are ones that will tend to be evident later in life. “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.” (Proverbs 20:11)
We see the same jealous attitude is still exhibited in Swaggart to this very day. Let us consider Swaggart’s vicious attacks against the book, A Purpose Driven Life.
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Billy Graham said that this book is one that would “guide you to greatness—through living the Great Commandment and the Great Commission of Jesus.” A May 2005 survey of American pastors showed that, except for the Bible, The Purpose Driven Life was considered the most influential book upon their lives and ministries. The book topped the Wall Street Journal best seller charts as well as Publishers Weekly charts, with over 30 million copies sold by 2007. It was also on the New York Times Bestseller List for over 90 weeks. By 2019, 32 million copies had been sold in more than 85 languages.
This is just the sort of thing that Jimmy Swaggart simply can’t tolerate. Swaggart has said that God has called him alone to reach the world with the Gospel. A book this popular that wasn’t written by him just doesn’t fit the narrative. Thus he must attack it, and attack it he does, over and over. Why? Jealousy. Simple unadulterated jealousy.
Another scandal concerns Baton Rouge’s charity hospital, which had a signed contract to purchase land from Swaggart Ministries. They wanted to relocate the hospital to better serve the community. But because land prices increased after the deal, the Swaggarts reneged on the contract, resulting in a law suit. In 2016 the court ordered Swaggart’s ministry to pay 4.4 million in damages to the hospital for breach of contract.
Scripture says that no man of God “in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him…” (2 Timothy 2:4). There is no question, Jimmy Swaggart Ministries is entangled in the affairs of the world.
Print Shop Scandal
Then there is the print shop scandal and its attempted cover-up, wherein the JSM ministries print shop, part of their non-profit corporation, made money by printing outlandish CD covers for secular Hip-Hop bands and posters for area night clubs. The CD Covers depict drugs, violence and gangs. One of the CD covers features satanic symbols and human sacrifice. The music that the CDs contain are filled with profanity.
One CD Cover is emblazoned with, “Includes the hot single – U Nasty!” A night club poster they printed says, “Liquor! Party! Action!” Some posters feature scantily clad women, another poster is for a gay night club and advertises the gothic band Strap On Halo. Needless to say, using money donated to a non-profit Christian organization to generate a profit by promoting wickedness is both illegal and immoral. Scripture says that Jesus hates the deeds of the Nicolaitans. Can you image what he thinks of this?
Consider this poster that JSM made for a local nightclub. Is there any excuse for a tax-free Christian ministery to use money given by Christians – money intended to further the gospel – to be used to operate a print shop that is producing ungodly material such as this?
For further information on the Print Shop Scandal at Jimmy Swaggart Ministries I recommend the video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUdvQT7Bg6U This video was made by Mishel McCumber. She worked at Jimmy Swaggart Ministries. She now has a website, www.DeceiptionBytes.com which has excellent inside information about the oppressive and scandalous work environment at Jimmy Swaggart Ministries.
Youth Ministry Scandal
Below are some of the ladies in leadership at JSM. Left to right: Grace Larson, Youth Worship Leader, Family Worship Center Team Singer. Jennifer Douglas, – Sister in law of Pastor Gabriel Swaggart, Worship Team member of Crossfire and staff member of Front Office of Jimmy Swaggart Ministries. Jill Swaggart, Wife of Pastor Gabriel Swaggart, Family Worship Center Worship Team member, Crossfire Worship Team leader, Family Worship Center Camp Meeting singer. Alaina Simoneaux – Former worship leader for Crossfire Ministries and IYC.
Apparently they are in a bar. Note the wine bottle, the demonic signs. Whether they know it or not, one of those signs is the 666 signal used by musicians frequently, and the others are gang signs. Note the girl on the left with the short dress and her legs immodestly spread and the evil facial expressions, the dead demonic look in their eyes and the evil seductive poses of their bodies.
Gabriel Swaggart tried to dismiss it with, “They were just kidding around and having fun” but I guarantee you if any other church did this, the Swaggarts would be all over it, pointing out this as an example of how evil other churches are. Why isn’t Jimmy’s special revelation getting these girls to live godly lives and set a proper example? Why is the JSM magic formula not working?
What would the Apostle Paul say if he could see this picture? We don’t have to wonder. Look at his teaching. Study that picture and then ask yourself if these Swaggart Ministry leaders are obeying the spirit of these scriptures written by the Apostle Paul:
“I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness. A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.” (1Timothy 2:9)
“Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” (Titus 2:3-5)
“There must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.” (Ephesians 5:4)
Are these girls acting “sensible,” as the scripture teaches? They are ministry leaders. Are they setting good examples for how mature Christian ladies should conduct themselves? Clearly not and evidently disobedience is contagious through the ministry from the top down.
Continued Sexual Scandals at JSM
Following Jimmy’s example, many sexual scandals have erupted in their church over the years. Donnie Swaggart (Jimmy’s son) divorced his wife to marry a lady in the church who was a 5-time divorcée. He then divorced her and remarried his first wife in 2015. He continued to minister during this time.
Many people have suffered the tragedy of divorce and those who endured the pain of that need the compassion, love and empathy of the Church.
However the scripture is clear that if things are falling apart in your family life you cannot take care of the Church of God. A minister should step down from ministry until his home life is stabilized. When we see the leaders themselves playing musical chairs with wives, and all the while pastoring the church, well, that is simply outrageous. Jesus said to examine the fruit. Not only does their doctrine fail the test of scripture but their lives show the kind of fruit that Jesus said would mark the life of a false prophet.
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