Donnie Swaggart has been married three times and divorced twice in his lifetime. He remarried his first wife after a second divorce. Swaggart is a part of the colourful history of evangelists in America.
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Who exactly is Donnie Swaggart?
The only son of televangelist Jimmy Swaggart and his wife is Donnie Swaggart. He followed his father into the ministry, but he has not maintained the same prominence as his father. In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Swaggart serves as pastor of the Family Worship Center. He frequently addresses his father’s camp meetings.
Debbie and Swaggart have three children and eight grandchildren. Gabriel, his oldest son, is the youth pastor at the Family Worship Center. Mathew, his second son, is a graphic artist. Jennifer, his daughter, is a wife and mother.
Debbie was Donnie Swaggart’s first bride. Additionally, she is the mother of his three children. They separated in 2003, and he married Judy later that same year. In 2006, Donnie and Judy divorced. Later, he married his first wife again.
A Brief History of Evangelicals in America
Evangelists have always been a part of American history. Some of the country’s first settlers arrived in search of religious liberty. Evangelists such as George Whitfield and Jonathan Edwards led people to Christianity during the Great Awakening of the 1740s, which swept the colonies.
Evangelists in the nineteenth century combined their religious fervour with social causes such as alcoholism and slavery. African-American pastors engaged their congregations by promising both earthly and heavenly community.
Contemporary American Evangelists
Americans witnessed the birth of the tent revival at the turn of the twentieth century. Billy Sunday and Dwight Moody, among other itinerant evangelists, would set up in a town and preach the gospel.
Evangelists such as Norman Vincent Peale and Mary Baker Eddy utilised the printed word. Oral Roberts, Rex Humbard, and Jimmy Swaggart, among others, used television to preach and raise funds.
The most celebrated evangelist
Billy Graham, born in North Carolina, was one of the most well-known evangelists in America. When he appeared on a radio show during a 1949 revival in Los Angeles, he became a sensation. Throughout his career, Graham preached to massive crowds in stadiums all over the world.
Graham met with presidents and international leaders. He also criticised communism and abortion. After Graham’s death in 2018, the Billy Graham Evangelical Association has continued his mission.
The Swaggart Family’s Troubled History
Jimmy Swaggart, the father of Donnie Swaggart, dealt with scandals in the 1980s and 1990s. At the peak of his ministry, two million American households watched Jimmy Swaggart’s television programme. In 1988, photographs of Swaggart with a prostitute surfaced after he called out two fellow evangelists for cheating on their wives. The Assemblies of God expelled him from the church. He continued to preach independently.
In 1991, Jimmy Swaggart was caught with another prostitute following a California traffic stop. Shortly after this second scandal, he gave Donnie his ministry.
Jimmy Swaggart is not the only pastor to have experienced scandal. Jim Bakker, one of the evangelists criticised by Jimmy Swaggart, had his own affair problems. Robert Tilton, a 1980s televangelist, requested that his followers send in prayer requests along with donations. When a journalist investigated Tilton, he discovered that the minister discarded prayer requests but kept the checks.
Evangelists such as Bill Gothard and Dave Reynolds were embroiled in scandals involving pornography and inappropriate relationships with children. Other televangelists, such as Kenneth Copeland and Creflo Dollar, have been criticised for using followers’ contributions to fund their lavish lifestyles.