Fallen Leaders Gallery 10

Fallen Leaders Gallery 10

10. JIMMY SWAGGART (Christian)

Jimmy Swaggart, a 1980s televangelist, was caught twice with a prostitute.

Offense: In 1987, Swaggart--one of the most popular of the 1980s televangelists, with a reported 2.3 million viewers and a daily gross of $500,000--was photographed by a rival televangelist leaving a hotel with a prostitute. He was again caught with a prostitute in 1991.

Consequence/Punishment: In February 1988, Swaggart tearfully confessed on his television show, and his viewership plummeted. His denomination, the Assemblies of God, imposed a one-year suspension barring him from performing pastoral duties. When Swaggart rejected the punishment, he was expelled from the denomination.

Effects on Community: Swaggart continues running a ministry today, although his audience remains a fraction of the size it was in his heyday. The scandal, together with those of Jim Bakker, Oral Roberts, and others, made televangelism something of a punchline in the general culture, though it remains popular with many Christians.

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