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saved by Swaggart

November 5, 2012

Jimmy Lee Swaggart was born in 1935 in Ferriday, Louisiana.  He is a cousin of rock

pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis and country singer Mickey Gilley.  The musical DNA in his

family served him well. He’s won numerous honours for his gospel records, including

two Grammy nominations.


In the 70’s he became a televangelist.  In 1984, he founded what is now the World

Evangelism Bible College.  Swaggart has written many books.  One of them revealed

that rock  and roll is the music of the devil.


This might have concerned kinfolk Jerry Lee, but he was busy marrying seven times.

His third wife, Myra Gale Brown, was his 13-year-old first cousin once removed.


Swaggart upped the ante in 1986, when he called rock music “the new pornography”.


Two years later, however, Jimmy Lee put his own imprint on the sex trade.  He had

exposed a rival preacher, Marvin Gorman, for allegedly having several affairs.  Gorman

was defrocked.  In retaliation, he had his son Randy and his son-in-law Garland Bilbo

stake out a motel in New Orleans he suspected Swaggart frequented.


When Swaggart arrived, Randy and Garland took a photo of him with a hooker, Debra

Murphee.  Then they let the air out his tires and called the recently-Reverend Gorman.

He confronted Swaggart and demanded that he publicly apologize to him and help him

be reinstated in the church.


Swaggart failed to do so.  About a year later, Gorman contacted the Executive Presbytery

of the Assemblies of God.  Members were shown several photos of men coming out of a

room at the motel.  Swaggart was one of them.  His TV program was suspended for three

months.  Eventually he was defrocked.


A few days after his initial suspension, he appeared on his show with a tearful but non-

specific confession to his transgressions.  He asked God that “Your Precious Blood would

wash and cleanse every stain until it is the seas of God’s forgiveness, not to be remembered

against me anymore.”


We’ll likely never get any more details.  Murphee said she only posed for Swaggart.  They

never had intercourse.  But she also failed a polygraph test required to be paid $100,000

to sell her story to the National Enquirer.


It got more specific in 1991.  A California Highway patrolman in Indio stopped Swaggart

to inquire as to why he was stopped on the wrong side of the road.  Rosemary Garcia, a

hooker with Swaggart, explained “He asked me for sex.  I mean, that’s why he stopped me.

That’s what I do.  I’m a prostitute.”


Swaggart was less forthcoming.  He informed his congregation that “The Lord told me it’s

flat none of your business.”  He then stepped down “for a time of healing and counseling”.


On a personal note, I can share that I was once saved by Swaggart.  I was moving from

L.A. to Kansas in late March of 1988, just after the first scandal.  My daughter and I got

caught in a snowstorm on I-40 near Santa Rosa, New Mexico.


We had to pull into an abandoned gas station just off the Interstate.  Fortunately, I had all

my clothes hanging in the back seat.  We were able to adequately insulate ourselves.  I

awoke to a National Guardsman rapping on the windshield the next morning.


It was a Sergeant Swaggart, asking if we were okay.  The storm had blown snow under the

hood of my car, befouling the electrical system.  It wouldn’t start.  The good sergeant gave

us a lift to Santa Rosa, where we got the last motel room.


We stayed there overnight and well into the next day.  I had to get the car towed and

repaired, and it took quite awhile to clear the roads and gridlock.  I spent the down time

watching TV and chuckling about the coincidence.




U.S. readers, I’d like to encourage you to vote tomorrow if you haven’t already.  The

campaign craziness is almost over.  Hang in there.

  1. Gordon permalink
    November 5, 2012 2:30 pm

    Unexplored is the possibility that his quote “I never had sex with that woman…Debra Murphee” went on to inspire other southern celebrities in similar delicate situations.

    • November 6, 2012 10:09 am

      It was amusing to see Romney cozy up to David Vitter during the campaign. Vitter, the junior Senator from Lousiana, got caught in the D.C. Madam scandal and actually admitted his guilt, with the requisite grim-faced wife standing by his side. I’m not sure how he parsed his words.

  2. November 5, 2012 7:45 pm

    depending on who wins tomorrow you may have compnay in canada..

    • November 6, 2012 10:10 am

      If Romney wins, we will start construction on “Expatriate Acres” tomorrow.

  3. November 6, 2012 10:27 pm

    I remember bits and pieces of that scandal. So many fell from Grace by being human and the media, but mainly because they tried to be one up on the I am above sin and fell on their asses. I try to remember what I was doing during that time and cannot. I must not have thought too much about it since I barely remember it, but I am glad of your story that cleared up what I might have missed.
    I did mention an inspection. We have one every 3 months where I live that tells the managers that I am not a horder and take out my trash and for the most part my apartment does not have to be condemned by the department of health. I am glad to say that I have been up to the task of household cleaness.
    I wish I could open a new restraunte, it would have been a great thing, but sometimes things are not meant to be,
    America has spoken and we have the same president for the next 4 years. I am happy with how things turned out, but my sister…. OMG she is one hot mad and vocal woman. I may choose to go deaf for the next few years. LOL. Good night.

    • November 7, 2012 12:12 pm

      Yes, many have fallen from Grace. The wikipedia article I read for the post listed 50 or so other evangelists who had scandals. Good luck with your sister. Cotton balls make good earplugs. And good luck with your inspection.

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