Television evangelist Jimmy Swaggart was defrocked Friday as a minister of the Assemblies of God for rejecting punishment ordered by national church leaders.
The Executive Presbytery of the Springfield-based Pentecostal denomination had ordered Swaggart to stop preaching for a year because of "moral failure." Swaggart confessed publicly to unspecified sin after reports linked him to lewd acts with a New Orleans area prostitute.The Rev. G. Raymond Carlson, general superintendent of the church, announced the decision after he and other members of the Executive Presbytery met by telephone conference call.
Earlier Friday, the church had received what Carlson described as a "gracious" letter from Swaggart in which the evangelist refused to accept terms of a church-ordered, two-year rehabilitation program.
"It is on this basis of precedent and our own by-laws, and upon his decision not to accept a rehabilitation program that he himself has agreed is right and proper, that the Executive Presbytery has, with regret and deep sorrow, taken formal action to dismiss Jimmy Swaggart as an ordained minister of the General Counsel of the Assemblies of God," Carlson said. "With that dismissal comes the assurance of our sincere prayers."
Swaggart voluntarily stepped down from his pulpit Feb. 21, after a tearful public confession of "moral failure" before his wife, son and congregation gathered in his Family Worship Center.
Church officials and Swaggart have refused to elaborate on his misstep, but a Baton Rouge prostitute has said Swaggart paid her to pose nude for him.