Jerry Falwell Jr. is just the latest in a long line of Evangelical Christian leaders that have been caught with their pants unzipped. A VERY long line. There are too many scandals to name them all, but we are going to tell you about three of the more shocking moments of hypocrisy.
Remember Dubya supporter Ted Haggard? By day he campaigned against same-sex marriage and condemned homosexuality. By night, he enjoyed using crystal meth and paying for sex from male prostitutes. Wow, that sounds fun, except eww. As well, Haggard’s church had to pay off a young male church member for non consensual sexual activity. Double eww. Haggard had made a career of condemning homosexuality and oppressing LGTBQ people, and before his scandal, he was a powerful influence on Washington from the religious right. Some representative of Jesus that Haggard turned out to be.
Trump supporter Jim Bakker really put the fraud in televangelism. Back in the 80s, Bakker oversold memberships to his Christian themepark Heritage USA and that got him convicted and jailed for accounting fraud. That, and keeping two sets of books. Prison didn’t seem to help because Bakker is back on TV again, this time selling expensive apocalypse survival food and snake oil cures. Jesus is coming back, Y’all, but not before we all starve to death.
That’s just the shyster part of Bakker. The sex scandal came when Jessica Hahn reported that Bakker had drugged and then raped her. The story goes that Baker and his then wife Tammy Faye had had a falling out, and he was feeling deprived. So, Bakker had his fellow pastor John Fletcher hook him up. Jesus wept.
$279,000 in church funds were used to compensate Jessica Hahn for having been victimized by Bakker and Fletcher. That was a lot of money back then.
To this day, Bakker claims the sex was consensual. Incidentally, John Fletcher, who died of AIDS in 1996, testified to a Grand Jury that he had had sex with Bakker 3 times. Not surprised.
Now THAT was performative damage control that has to be seen to believed. Jimmy Swaggart’s audience was moved to tears and jumped to their feet for TWO standing ovations. Jesus forgives.
If you enjoy unbridled insanity in a preacher scandal, then you need to get to know Jimmy Swaggart. It all started when self-righteous Swaggart exposed fellow pastor Marvin Gorman for having extra-marital affairs. You see, Swaggart LOVED exposing and destroying his competition and had gained a lot of traction with his followers for calling Jim Bakker “a cancer on the body of Christ“. Harsh. Probably true, though.
Well, Gorman was not having any of this. To get back at Swaggart, Gorman had him followed to a Louisiana motel where Swaggart met a prostitute named Debra Murphree. Apparently, Gorman’s plan was to use photographs of the encounter to blackmail Swaggart into apologizing and retracting his accusations toward Gorman. Swaggart didn’t take the bait so Gorman turned him in to the Assemblies of God hierarchy.
The response? The Assemblies of God suspended Swaggart from broadcasting his television show for three months, which soon turned to two years, which suddenly became permanent. There must have been some drama going on behind the scenes.
Everything was business as usual until the cops pulled Swaggart over for erratic driving and discovered a prostitute in the car with him. Swaggart had sinned again.
These days, the 85 year old preacher continues his ministry outside of the authority of the Assemblies of God. He probably no longer consorts with prostitutes, but who knows
Yep, Jesus saves and there is big money in telling people that. Jerry Falwell Jr can probably rest easy in the knowledge that he can soon start a ministry independent of those stifling bosses at Liberty University. If he makes a big enough pretense of being washed clean by the Blood of Jesus, the money will start rolling in.