Jimmy Swaggart

Jimmy Swaggart

American pastor, Pentecostal evangelist, Christian singer, pianist, and Christian book author
Date of Birth: 15.03.1935
Country: USA

  1. Biography of Jimmy Swaggart
  2. Early Life and Career
  3. Controversies and Independent Ministry
  4. Legacy

Biography of Jimmy Swaggart

Jimmy Lee Swaggart was an American pastor, Pentecostal evangelist, Christian singer, pianist, and author of Christian books. He began his career as a television preacher in 1971, captivating American and international audiences. His weekly programs, "Jimmy Swaggart Telecast" and "A Study in the Word," were broadcasted throughout the United States and reached 78 channels in 104 countries.

Jimmy Swaggart

Early Life and Career

Jimmy Lee Swaggart was born on March 15, 1935, in Ferriday, Louisiana. He came from a talented musical family, with his cousin Jerry Lee Lewis being one of the pioneers of rock and roll, and another cousin, Mickey Gilley, becoming a country music star. At the age of 17, in 1952, Swaggart married 15-year-old Frances Anderson, whom he met at church where she played church music with her father. They had a son named Donnie on October 18, 1954, naming him after Jimmy's deceased brother.

Jimmy Swaggart

To support his young family, Jimmy worked various jobs and began performing Southern gospel music in different churches. According to his autobiography, the Swaggarts lived in poverty in the 1950s while Jimmy preached in rural areas of Louisiana, earning around $30 (equivalent to about $250 in 2016). In contrast, his cousin Jerry was earning $20,000 per week. The family lived in church basements, parsonages, and small hotels.

Jimmy Swaggart

In 1955, Jimmy fully embraced evangelicalism when he received a donated trailer-park platform for his preaching. By the 1960s, he started recording evangelical albums, and his tracks began to be played on radio stations. In 1961, Swaggart was ordained by the Assemblies of God and a year later began his ministerial service on the radio. In the late 1960s, he founded a small church called the Family Worship Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. During this period, Jimmy also became the star of a religious 30-minute television program that aired on local TV stations in Baton Rouge and WLUX radio (now WPFC).

Controversies and Independent Ministry

In the 1980s and 1990s, Swaggart gradually sold his radio stations. His program "Jimmy Swaggart Telecast" continues to air on several radio stations managed by his television and radio network, Sonlife Broadcasting Network (SBN). In 1980, Swaggart began hosting a weekly television program that featured music and Bible study. He also aired a one-hour program on weekends that showcased services from his Family Worship Center or highlighted local evangelistic campaigns, which eventually reached major cities across the United States. By 1983, Swaggart's broadcasts were reaching over 250 television stations.

In 1988, Swaggart became involved in a sex scandal with a prostitute. On February 21, he delivered his infamous "repentance speech" without disclosing any details. Tearfully, Swaggart addressed his family, congregation, and audience, stating, "I have sinned against you, my Lord, and I would ask that your precious blood would wash and cleanse every stain until it is in the seas of God's forgetfulness and never be remembered against me anymore."

Initially, the Louisiana District Council of the Assemblies of God suspended Swaggart from ministry for three months. However, the national presbytery soon suggested a standard two-year penalty for those involved in sexual immorality. After three months, Swaggart returned to the pulpit, but the Assemblies of God hierarchy questioned his sincerity, resulting in the withdrawal of his preaching credentials. Jimmy became an independent nondenominational Pentecostal evangelist, establishing the "Jimmy Swaggart Ministries" in Baton Rouge. His television and radio network, SBN, continued its operations in the United States and many other countries.

On October 11, 1991, Swaggart was found in the company of another prostitute for the second time. He was stopped by a police officer in Indio, California, for driving on the wrong side of the road. The woman, Rosemary Garcia, later confessed to being a prostitute. Instead of confessing his sin, the pastor stated to his Family Worship Center congregation, "The Lord told me it's none of your business." Following this incident, Swaggart temporarily stepped down from leading "Jimmy Swaggart Ministries" to focus on healing and seeking guidance.

As of 2007, "Jimmy Swaggart Ministries" oversaw the activities of the Family Worship Center, produced "The Jimmy Swaggart Telecast," the television and radio program "A Study in the Word," and operated the SonLife Radio Network.


Jimmy Swaggart owns the website JSM.org and the cable and satellite network SBN, which broadcasts 24/7. He conducts daily Bible study on SBN through his program "The Message of the Cross." His wife, Frances, hosts the daily television program "Frances and Friends," which also airs on SBN.

His son, Donnie Swaggart, is the pastor of the Family Worship Center and other churches throughout the United States and abroad. His son Gabriel leads "Crossfire," a youth ministry within the Family Worship Center. Along with Gabriel, Jimmy also has a granddaughter named Jennifer and a grandson named Matthew. He is also a great-grandfather to eight grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. With the involvement of Donnie and Gabriel, three generations of the Swaggart family continue to be active in preaching ministry.