I am going to be outlining to you what took place at Jimmy Swaggart Ministries in June of 2011, that led to the dismissal of four employees.
As most of you know, Jimmy Swaggart Ministries is a registered non-profit organization. The ministry has its own print shop that is responsible for the printing of ministry materials such as books, study guides, The Evangelist, CD covers, and so forth. The ministry decided a few years ago, after investing in state- of-the-art printing equipment, to take on outside clients for print jobs.
They called this side of the business StarCom, but it still operated under the non-profit umbrella of Jimmy Swaggart Ministries. StarCom’s invoices plainly state that checks are to be made payable to Jimmy Swaggart Ministries. Further more, the person who is the head of the ministry print shop, is the same person who is the head of StarCom printing! They are one and the same. It is the same building, the same employees, the same equipment, the same ink, and the same paper.
If you have ever given a donation to the ministry, hypothetically speaking, it is possible that it may have gone towards this high-end printing equipment. What is wrong with donating money to buy equipment to print ministry material? Well, quite frankly, nothing. However, what if I told you that was not all they were printing? What if I told you that they were using their non-profit equipment and non-profit employees to run a business?
Now, those of you familiar with non-profit law will quickly argue that in some cases, it is perfectly legal for a non-profit to do this. However, what if I was to tell you that the ministry was printing posters for area nightclubs, lesbian bars, hip-hop bands, and wine lists for area restaurants? What if I told you that the Swaggarts were not only aware of it, but fired four people who knew about it? What if I told you the head of the print shop, who took the orders, received the cash and printed the material, was not only still employed, but a member of the worship band and one of the youth leaders?
Before I show you the printing, let me give you the facts. I know that when this is published, the ministry will scramble to do damage control. There will be many lies skillfully inserted into the grapevine to shift blame and cast aspersion on those who have brought this to the light. It is what they do, and they do well.
I have received some hateful emails since the first article was first published. However, for every one email that insists I am liar, unsaved, or downright possessed, there are twenty others that cheer me on and admire my courage in taking a stand. I am quickly finding that there is a multitude of people who have thrown up their hands in despair and wondered how these things like this have been allowed to continue. A virtual army of battered sheep who have lost heart over the things they saw occurring here. Some have scolded me, in effect saying that it does not matter what Jimmy Swaggart Ministries does as long as they are speaking the truth. Well, if someone was speaking the truth to you but also beating you at the same time, would you ignore the beating because the truth was being spoken?
To those who do not have the ears to hear, or the eyes to see, it will not matter what evidence I show you. I am not out to convince you. However, if you know in your spirit that something is not right with this ministry, or if you work there and have seen some of the things I have described, then this may be the confirmation you need.
Let me give you the facts.
Early in June, an employee on break from the shipping department went back to the print shop to get a snack. These prints were the discarded proofs and were literally laying on the cutting table in full view of any who passed by.
The print shop employee was disgusted at the prints and told the shipping employee that these things were being printed by the head of the print shop. This particular employee had over 20 yrs in the printing business and knew far more than anyone else in the ministry about printing. He had been bullied and abused and had been moved to the night shift so presumably he would not see the printing that was taking place in the daytime, or witness the ongoing incompetence of the inexperienced manager.
The shipping employee took out her cell phone and took pictures of the discarded prints. She believed, as many of us did, that there was a rogue element loose in the ministry, perpetrating all sorts of heinous things. She believed that if only the Swaggarts knew, they would set all things right. Most had given up hope that Frances did not know, however, some still held out hope that Jimmy was blissfully ignorant.
The shipping employee sent the email to my work address with the pictures attached. The email mentioned the print shop employee, and also mentioned a young lady in the television department who like I, knew nothing of this incident. In fact, she was devastated by her dismissal and had no idea why she had been fired. She had begged for her job back to no avail. Frances would not tell her why she was fired; she found out from me, six weeks after the incident.
Since all ministry email is monitored rigorously, the email captured the attention of the Front Office. It is interesting to note that I deleted the email as soon as I opened it, and then deleted it from my deletes. If you happen to work there, this should give you cause for concern. However, do not be too paranoid, I doubt they pay much attention unless the email incriminates them in some manner.
I was called to Frances’ office along with the shipping employee. Frances sat blank-eyed and stone-faced while she stated in a matter-of-fact way that she was letting us both go. It would have been natural to feel fear or a sense of dread, but what washed over me was an incredible peace and sense of relief. I sat while Frances read the confidentiality agreement to the shipping employee and grilled her at length over the highly confidential secret ministry files she had. I wanted to laugh. How “secret and confidential” is it if it is just lying around in the trash for anyone to see?
Frances seemed overly concerned with the ministry laptop that I had. She wanted me to bring it to her and asked me if I had it in my office. When I told her that it was at home she told me that she was going to send a ministry employee with me to watch while I retrieved it, lest I erase anything. I shifted to the edge of my seat and told her that I was not going to allow a ministry employee into my personal home. I stressed to her that I had never taken anything from the ministry, and was not about to start. It was clear to me that her concern was not over the laptop, but over what might be contained on it. She stated that she would hold my check until the laptop was returned. It is interesting to note that the employee she was going to send with me was her secretary. I must also state that her secretary had always been friendly and kind to me, and I had no issue with her personally. However, when I returned with the laptop, her secretary made sure to stress to me that accompanying me to my home had been her idea, and not Frances. She stated that she had simply, “wanted to spend time with me.” I knew this to be a lie. I had been there for three years, and while always friendly, she had never simply wanted to “spent time” with me. It is odd that she would choose the day I was fired. It is obvious, in my opinion, that Frances was trying to save face because she knew she had stepped over the line in insisting a ministry employee accompany me to my own home.
The print shop employee was also pressured to hand over any files or prints that he might have. Had he done that then you would not be reading this right now. It would have been neatly swept under the rug like so many instances before it. He felt an obligation to preserve these files. When someone is fired, most presume they have done something to deserve it. I personally do not appreciate a slur being cast on my good name so they can continue on untarnished by scandal. I know the others involved in this incident feel likewise.
In the days after being fired, the print shop employee took samples of what was being printed and begged brother Swaggart to have mercy on him. He was married, had three children, and was already barely making it on his paltry salary. He pleaded that it was not fair that he lost his job over this. He was brushed off. Now he was both jobless and disillusioned. He could not continue paying rent to the Swaggarts with no job, so he gave away most of his belongings and drove his family to Florida to move in with his brother. His car was not in good repair but even so, he was forced to make the trip at night as the vehicle’s air conditioner was broken and the day-time temperatures had been stiffling.
The only person who did not lose their job in this incident was the employee who actually printed this material. Why? Well isn’t it obvious? He was doing this printing with the Swaggart’s full knowledge and blessing. The day we were fired, I listened as Frances told the shipping employee that “Jimmy was awfully upset” about the printing. Really Frances? How “upset” could he have been if the person who did it is still employed as head of the print shop, and as a musician and youth leader? The perpetrator is employed while someone merely mentioned in an email, and the person who received the email is fired. Please don’t insult our intelligence! The real truth is that Jimmy was upset only at the potential for scandal. He met with the head of the print shop where it was decided that they would no longer take outside printing jobs. The problem was that they still had outstanding print jobs for the same customer who had requested the posters and Hip-Hop CD covers. After the four of us were fired and out of the way, permission came from Jimmy through his secretary, to continue with the printing of these outstanding orders. So I ask you Frances, how upset could he have been, really?
Here are your donation dollars at work. The pictures that follow may be offensive to some.
As an interesting side note, the ministries magazine, “The Evangelist” prior to June 2011, carried advertising for Star-Com printing. Since our dismissals, advertising for StarCom printing has ceased.
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