The National Assemblies of God Tuesday suspended TV evangelist Jimmy Swaggart from preaching for two years for his admission that he paid a prostitute to perform obscene acts.
Church officials at a noon news conference held at the Assemblies of God's national headquarters said Swaggart also must agree to cease distribution of his popular television show for one year and must submit to rehabilitation for at least two years.Swaggart's two-year suspension means he cannot preach at all for the first year and in the second year only under supervision from the church.
Swaggart told members of his 7,000-plus congregation in Baton Rouge on Feb. 21 that he is guilty of an unspecified "moral failure." Swaggart told church officials he met with a prostitute once, said Juleen Turnage, a church spokeswoman.
The General Presbytery met for six hours Monday and 206 members reconvened Tuesday for about two hours to discuss the punishment, which could have ranged from expulsion from the church to temporary removal from the pulpit, officials said.
Although Swaggart reportedly said he met with a prostitute only once, Deborah Murphree, who is wanted in a New Orleans suburb on a prostitution charge, said Swaggart paid her $50 a meeting on several occasions for more than a year to perform obscene acts.