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Jimmy Lee Swaggart’s Biography Essay

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Updated: Mar 29th, 2022


Jimmy Swaggart was at one time a great preacher whose influence was felt all over the world. As a result of his ministry, many people around the world turned to accept the Lord Jesus’ leadership in their lives. He rose from a very humble beginning and became a giant in the world of gospel preaching as well as singing.

Quite unfortunately, he was twice associated with prostitution and this saw the downfall of his great ministry. Though he is still preaching and making a slow comeback, he is still far from reaching the great heights he was in the 1980s before his involvement in prostitution was made public. In this article, the life of Jimmy Swaggart is examined in length.

Jimmy Lee Swaggart

He was born in 1935 to Minnie and W.L. Swaggart. His parents were followers of Assemblies of God church. It is said that as a teen he was not very much involved in church activities but instead was rebellious to Godly issues and frequented local clubs. Later, he dedicated his life to the church activities and chose to join a ministry his father had formed. This was in 1952. He met his wife, Frances Anderson, in the ministry (Kaufman 1).

Swaggart and his wife started first as itinerant preachers. Swaggart was good in music and in 1962 he recorded an album. The album sold well and encouraged him to form a record label. He made more records, some of which became bestselling. In 1968, he ventured into radio preaching.

His radio program picked up quickly and in less than a decade it was being aired by more than 650 radio stations. The radio program greatly made him a popular preacher and as a result the revival rallies that he organized are said to have had huge audiences. The success of the radio program prompted him to move to telecasts. His telecasts greatly enjoyed huge successes gaining viewers in the range of two million people (Kaufman 1).

The popularity of Swaggart enabled him to expand his ministry greatly. He reached millions of people in the US and around the world. Through broadcasting, Swaggart reached many listeners and viewers. Broadcasting greatly assisted him to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. His messages were translated to other languages.

His telecasts had great influence on his viewers. His music was also been quite inspiring to Christians. During his active time in music, he bagged many music awards. He also influenced Christians greatly through print media. He has authored many books and works on Christian literature. Swaggart also started a bible college which was very influential during his height in preaching (Jimmy Swaggart Ministries 1).

It can be said that Swaggart did a lot of work in advancing the work of God. His rising from a very humble beginning to become a great televangelist is a proof of his dedication to God’s work. There is no doubt that his awesome telecasts, music, radio programs, and Christian literature have greatly influenced people around the world (Kaufman 1).


Despite being a great preacher and evangelist, Swaggart has been part to too many controversies. It is said that at his height in preaching, he was a great icon in the gospel world. He is said to have lived a lavish lifestyle owning expensive cars as well as a private jet. But all these started to fade when his adulterous activities became public knowledge.

This first happened in 1987 when he was connected to sexual liaison with a prostitute. He was disciplined by the local Assemblies of God church under which he was serving. However, it seem he did not agree to the terms of the punishment and decided to break away to start his own assembly.

Unfortunately again, under his new assembly, another adulterous activity came to the spotlight. In 1991, he was connected to having an affair with a prostitute. This greatly reduced his influence which had already suffered a huge blow from the first scandal which had become public knowledge (Martinez 1).

In examining Swaggart’s sins, Rev. Rafael Martinez observed that Swaggart presented a bad example when he refused to be punished by the Assemblies of God and instead chose to start his own assembly. Martinez argued that Swaggart’s defiance to taking the full punishment was due to his imagination that he was above rebuke.

He argued that Swaggart is not in record for undergoing restoration. The implication this brings out is that Swaggart believes he is only accountable to God and to no one else. This contradicts biblical teachings on restoration whereby brethren ought to help a fallen person (Martinez 1).

Though the two scandals on adultery committed by Swaggart are the major in his life, there are others. In 1983, allegations were brought up against the fund allocation procedure in his church. It was claimed that funds collected for children kitty were used to furnish the church.

A different allegation accused Swaggart’s son in law of collecting kickbacks from a printer who printed The Evangelist (Swaggart’s magazine). Another allegation charged Swaggart’s ministries of preying on Zoe Vance’s wealth. She was very wealthy and when she died in 1981, she left a good portion of her estate to Swaggart ministries (Kaufman 1).

In the recent years, Swaggart has been trying to rise up from the lows he crushed into after his adulterous activities were known to the public. However, some of the ways which he has engaged are negatively viewed. For instance, he has written a bible expositor which Jimmy Swaggart Ministries claim to be “the fastest selling Study Bible in the world” (Jimmy Swaggart Ministries 1). This study guide has however drawn a lot of criticism from some scholars who claim that the guide has misleading teachings all through its pages.

According to Cook, Hallman and Pansler-Lam, the bible study guide teaches perverted gospel and therefore is misleading. Many specific examples are picked where the guide makes claims without any biblical references. For instance, the guide claims that God created the earth twice but does not give biblical evidence for this claim (Cook, Hallman and Pansler-Lam 1).


Jimmy Lee Swaggart was born to a humble family. He started out as an itinerant preacher assisted by his wife Frances Anderson. After some time of preaching he joined his father who had just formed a new assembly.

He also got involved in radio programs which widely became successfully. At this time he was also actively involved in singing and recorded some albums apart from bagging a number of music awards. His move to televangelism exploded his popularity. His influence had grown so greatly and so was his wealth. It was at this time that he started falling from the top when his connection to prostitution came to public light.

His defiance to fully serve the punishment for his gross actions led him to start his own church. Unfortunately after starting his church, he was yet again implicated in another prostitution scandal. This completely faded his popularity and what used to a great and vibrant ministry under his watch has become an almost empty shell.

Works Cited

Cook, William, Hallman Bruce, and Pansler-Lam Karen. “.” Liberty Advocate, 2012. Web.

Jimmy Swaggart Ministries. . Jimmy Swaggart Ministries, 2013. Web.

Kaufman, Joanne. “.” People, 2009. Web.

Martinez, Rafael. “.” Spirit Watch Ministries, 2012. Web.

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