BATON ROUGE, La. -- Jimmy Swaggart Ministries, seared by the second sex scandal involving the fire-and-brimstone evangelist, will abandon its international television operation, a board member said.
At his zenith in 1987, Swaggart's TV ministry reached an estimated 510 million people in 145 countries, and brought in about $150 million a year to his church, bible college and mail-order business. Donations averaged $500,000 daily.
But troubles regarding Swaggart's personal life, exacerbated by an incident earlier this month involving a prostitute, have dogged the religious outfit.
Now, the ministry plans to sell its extensive television production equipment and abandon its broadcast efforts, according to Dennis Brewer Sr., of Dallas, a lawyer and member of the board of Jimmy Swaggart Ministries.
'We will be discontinuing the massive television ministry,' Brewer said Friday. 'We may televise some services, but as far as an international television ministry, we're not going to try to keep that going at this time.
'I know the ministry is not insolvent by any means,' Brewer said. 'I can tell you there is not going to be any financial collapse.'
Brewer said that the ministry's current board, consisting of himself, Donnie Swaggart and Clyde and Elizabeth Fuller of Chattanooga, Tenn., intends to 'try to protect the church and the school and the children's ministry.'
Fuller is a trucking company executive.
Donnie Swaggart last week relieved his father as ministries chairman while Jimmy Swaggart seeks professional counseling and relief from other pressures including loss of a $10 million lawsuit brought by rival evangelist Marvin Gorman of New Orleans.
Gorman charged Swaggart spread lies that caused the downfall of Gorman's own television ministry.
In 1988, Gorman disclosed photographs of Swaggart and a prostitute, a revelation that led to the ouster of Swaggart by the Assemblies of God, the nation's largest Pentecostal denomination.
On Oct. 11 police in Indio, Calif., found a prostitute with Swaggart after they stopped his car for traffic violations. The hooker said Swaggart had asked her to have sex with him.
The Jimmy Swaggart Bible College, down to about 370 students from a high of more than 1,000 before the scandals broke, will be scaled back -- and lose its basketball team, officials disclosed last week.