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Sex in the Evangelical World

That fundamentalism had no positive effect on the moral behavior of believers can already be seen by the preponderance of preachers who resort to fraudulent means to spread their message. If more proof is needed, this section will provide it.

In the late eighties two of the biggest stars in TV evangelism were brought down due to sex scandals.

In March 1987, it was revealed that Jim Bakker had a sordid love affair with Jessica Hahn, a former church secretary. Jim had given her US$265,000 of the ministry's money to keep her silent. [1] Homosexuality was also rampant in his PTL studios. A leading evangelist in PTL John Wesley Fletcher was once caught giving oral sex to a man in a room in the Bakker's mansion. [2] Jim Bakker too may have been involved in this rampant homosexuality. Austin Miles reported seeing Bakker with three of his male staff naked in the steam room of his mansion, they were, according to Miles "playing with and massaging each other." [3] Whatever the case maybe, the revelation of his affair with Jessica Hahn started to crumble his empire. His excessive spending and lavish lifestyle was finally brought to the forefront by the media. It was discovered that Jim Bakker had defrauded his supporters of US$158 million by overselling the shares for lodging at his religious theme park, Heritage USA. In addition he diverted some US$3.7 million of money from his ministry to buy some luxury items for himself. Eventually, in 1989, Jim was convicted of fifteen counts of wire fraud, eight counts of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy. [4]

The next major shock involved the fire-and-brimstone preacher Jimmy Swaggart. Swaggart had earlier denounced Bakker's adultery, calling the disgraced preacher "a cancer in the body of Christ." He had also exposed another evangelist, Marvin Gorman for having an adulterous affair with his secretary. To believers it seems that Swaggart was the one man of God keeping His house clean.

Then early in 1988, the bombshell dropped. Marvin Gorman took some photographs to the elders of the AOG church in Springfield, Missouri. It showed Swaggart leaving a hotel with a prostitute, Debra Murphee. Summoned by the elders, Swaggart admitted the incident and publicly confessed his sins, which included a lifelong obsession with pornography.

The prostitute told reporters that Swaggart had asked her to posed naked in pornographic positions. She confirmed his claim that they did not engage in any sexual intercourse. [5] Then in March 1989, Penthouse interviewed a 38 year old woman, Catherine Campen, who claimed that she had a perverted affair with Swaggart. She told her interviewer that they dated ten times, from July 1987 to January 1988. She further alleged that Swaggart tricked her into performing sadomasochistic acts, including whipping the preacher with a riding crop. [6]

For all this hypocrisy - he had denounced Jim Bakker and Marvin Gorman for doing precisely the things he did - Jimmy Swaggart was banned from preaching for a year: little more than a slap in the wrist. [7]

It is not only the upper echelons of evangelism that is permeated with sexual misconduct. Austin Miles, an ex-Assemblies of God minister, tells of an incident where a 75 year old pastor in the Florida was caught for molesting a twelve year old girl. His punishment: he was transferred to another district. Miles later learnt that the pastor had earlier been transferred there from another district for committing a similar offence. He also reported that incidents where Assemblies of God ministers patronizing prostitutes were on the rise. Homosexuality too seems to be rampant. [8]

Update November 5, 2006

On November 4, 2006, another prominent evangelical leader, the Reverend Ted Haggard, pastor of the 14,000 strong New Life megachurch and President of the National Association of Evangelicals, an organization which boasts of more than 30 million members, was forced to step down due to allegations of sexual misconduct. The allegations were made by Mike Jones, who claimed that Reverend Haggard paid for sex with him over a period spanning three years. Denying this charge, the reverend did admit that he bought drugs from Jones and that he paid for a massage from the male prostitute. It is indeed ironic that Reverend Haggard, a "gay-hater", as queerty.com calls him, admitted to getting a massage from a male prostitute. Reverend Haggard is an ally of President George W. Bush and, according to Time Magazine, was a regular participant in conference calls with the White House. [9]

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References

1.Gardner, The New Age: p232
2.Miles, Don't Call Me Brother: p248
3.Ibid: p12
4.The Straits Times, October 6th 1992
5.Simon Hogart, Great Bawls of Fire, The Observer 1988
6.The Straits Times, January 31st 1989
7.Simon Hogart, Great Bawls of Fire, The Observer 1988.
8.Miles, Don't Call Me Brother: p149
9."Church forces out Haggard for 'sexually immoral conduct'"CNN.com, November 4, 2006
" 'I Did Not Have Sexual Relations With That Hooker' Says Homo-Hating Preacher", Queerty.com

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