“Don’t Trust Me With Your Damn Money?”

Dr. Gene Scott

“Then Don’t Trust Me With Your Soul!”

The 1980’s was the Golden Age of silver-tongued television evangelists – and what a motley crew they were. There were healers and stealers and bottom-deck dealers. They came in a variety of flavors with two things in common: they were all “messengers of God” – and each tried to separate you  from as much of your money as he could –  in the shortest amount of television time possible.

“If your friends WON’T go to heaven with you – DON’T go to hell with them!”

Jimmy Swaggart (cousin of Jerry Lee Lewis) could sing, play beautiful piano, speak in tongues, and cry on cue. Even two different scandals with $10/hour hookers could not shake his followers’ faith. You can still see Jimmy on Sunday morning TV preaching, crying,  and stealing in the name of the Lord.

“Jim, the Lord let me get addicted to over-the-counter medication for a reason.”

Jim and Tammy Baker looked like a successful, Midwestern Amway couple. Smarmy Jim could oil the dollars out of your wallet with fantasies of luxurious rooms never built. The old joke about Tammy was they scraped away layers of her make-up and found Jimmy Hoffa. Their PTL (Praise the Lord) Club had thousands of members each buying timeshares in a kind of Disneyland for Christian adults – much of which existed only in Jim’s mind.

“HEAL!”

To me, the saddest one of the lot is Ernest Angely, a faith healer still on television today. He could perform “miracles” weekly which let the lame walk, the deaf  hear and the blind see. But unfortunately, he could never grow hair on his own head and sports a toupee that is so bad, it couldn’t be hurt by a chinstrap.

“I’m OUT of here!”

The scariest and strangest by far? Dr. Gene Scott, author of the quote above. Scott looked an acted like an Old Testament holy man on steroids. While other TV preachers begged for money, Scott DEMANDED his faithful send in their tithes.

Often called “God’s Angriest Man”, Scott would rant and fill his blackboard with religious teachings in Latin, Hebrew, and Sanskrit. But he would often bellow, “Why aren’t those damn phones ringing with your measly bucks!? If you don’t pledge $600 in the next 10-minutes, I’m walking out of here! Find your own damn way to Heaven!”

And then he’d throw down his chalk, storm off the set, and for hours, all that was left was a close-up shot of his empty chair and a telephone number to call in your money. GODDAMN Gene Scott could put on one hell of a show!

An 89 year TV preacher has predicted today will be THE END OF THE WORLD at 6:00 pm.  However, the official Rapture web site is still taking donations – and you can use just about any credit card.  Hmmmm….

7 Responses to ““Don’t Trust Me With Your Damn Money?””

  1. Joe Belle-Isle says:

    It IS The end of the world! It’s after 6pm here and only dead people can be seen talking to each other and watching TV. If You think I’m kidding-My wife just tuned in Lawrence Welk!> And Wonder Woman is singing a duo with another Christian Music singer that wants to wear womens tights. On TV.

  2. FUBLO says:

    Watching Dr Gene Scott got me through college. I was depressed, struggling to motivate myself to do the work needed, and would spend hours watching his show. It was all hokum and pure bushwa, but MAN he could pour it on thick! He was wickedly entertaining. Finally at some point I decided I either had to do the work to succeed, or become a drop-out and start watching tv and taking it seriously.

    I haven’t watched a tv-evangelist in 25 years. Scared straight.

  3. Bill says:

    Ernest came to the Eastman Theater in Rochester back in the late 70s. I almost went because the National Technical Institute for the Deaf is located there; It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if legions of those kids showed up to be healed.

    Jimmy Swaggart is quite subdued nowadays and spends much of his time selling religious merchandise. It’s kind of sad. Once upon a time that showman could really burn the barn down.

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