kers down, offering a tight smile andnthe v/aming “I’m not here to serve upnsome nice religious dainties,” he’s notnjoking. While others are called to setnAmerica back on a moral path, or tonpreach forgiveness, or to teach thenProsperity Message, Jimmy Swaggart’snmission is simpler: He is here to callnsin by its name. Since sin does notnconfine itself to the unsaved only, henalso runs a thriving side business innexposing backsliders. Working I knownthat I know that I know in both directions,nSwaggart finds as much sin andnwrongheadedness within the flock asnhe finds within “the world.” Thus henmanages to discomfit fellow believersnand infuriate nonsubscribers at thensame time.nAggressively fearless, he jumps upnand down on questions most evangelistsnwon’t even approach (in public,nanyway). Can the born-again lose theirnsalvation? Yes, indeed, becausen”you’re not going to be raptured out ofnsome honky-tonk.” Will Mother Teresa’sngood works get her into heaven?nNo sir, just check the Bible. (Reactionnto Sivaggart’s Mother Teresa remarknwas interesting. While Catholics werenunderstandably offended, right behindnthem in the outrage department was ancollection of nonreligious meddlersnwho, having either rejected or outgrownnany personal religious commitment,nnevertheless decided that ifnthere were such a place as heaven, itnwould have to be an affirmative-actionnsort of deal where no soul would suffernexclusion for any reason.)nMore than one observer has chargednJimmy Swaggart with ignorance, thenexpression of uncultured thoughts inncrude terms. It’s true that he has annuntutored mind. And it’s true thatnwhen he strays too far from the languagenof the Bible or the vocabulary ofnhis native Louisiana, he can be unintentionallyncolorful, as when he saysn”you-bel-int” for ebullient and pronouncesnrampant with ferocious emphasisnon the last syllable. (What hendoes to the names of certain Russiann”Comminists” is past description.) Butnin this case, the accusation of ignorancenmisses the point. And, in thisncase, it can be directed back at thenaccusers. For Fundamentalism meansnturning away from “the things of the’nworld,” one of which happens to benthe open-minded investigation ofnhuman knowledge and ideas. To takenoffense at this is to get miffed that a jarnof pickles is not a can of stew. “Wherenare the carrots and potatoes?” theynkeep huffing. “Where is the meat?!”nRead the label, folks.nJimmy Swaggart knows that he isnnot an intellectual stew. Jimmy Swaggartnknows a lot of things. Starting andnstopping with the Word, beginningnand ending at the Cross, Jimmy Swaggartnknows what is not “of Cod.” Henalso knows that he himself has “neverncooled off, never plan[s] to cool off”nand that the only religion worth anythingnis one that “makes you so miserablenyou can’t eat, sleep, rest, ornthink.” Possessing an ignorance of nonrelevance, he rounds things out withnan edged and quirky native intelli-nkill a snake, I don’t spread a tableclothnand lay out silverware.” Pity thensnakes, for his weapon of choicenis . . . “an ax.”nPaul Crouch hosts discussions ofnrock ‘n’ roll’s “satanic influence” onnteenage sex, suicide, and devil worship,nthen follows these shows withn”contemporary Christian” video programsnwhose look and sound are indistinguishablenfrom those of MTV.nJimmy Swaggart knows not only thatnrock ‘n’ roll is an abomination, butnthat contemporary Christian music isnmerely rock ‘n’ roll in disguise, yetnanother insidious trick of Satan to turnnbelievers into (you guessed it) backsliders.nJim Bakker, not satisfied with hisnopulent “Christian retreat center” andnA bom preacher and a down-home Pentecostal, JimmynSwaggart’s as good as they come and as tough as they get.nWhen he interrupts himself to declare “Man, that’s good preaching,”nhe merely speaks the truth. And when he hunkers down,noffering a tight smile and the warning “I’m not here to serve upnsome nice religious dainties,” he’s not joking.ngence that serves his calling perfectiy.nThis particular combination makesnhim far more dangerous to the ambitionsnof his fellow Fundamentalistsnthan to the intellectual standards of hisnoutraged critics.nIn their book The Seduction ofnChristianity, Fundamentalists DavenHunt and T.A. McMahon have labelednPossibility Thinking and PositivenConfession “sorcery” and have tracednboth movements—which are sweepingnmany Fundamentalist circles—tonroots in the occult. Jimmy Swaggartntakes a more direct route to his rejectionnof such practices, stating simplynand flatly that they are “beyond thenCross”; that they are “a device ofnSatan”; that they lead to “nothing butnbacksliding”; that, finally, “If it’s notnin the Bible, I don’t want it.” Eithernway, the sparks are beginning to flynover this one, and they will fly overnmany more issues. While JimmynSwaggart is obviously not the onlynpurist spoiler in the ranks, he is withoutndoubt the best-known, the mostnrelentless, and the least restrained. Tonquote the man himself, “When I go tonnnhis new $10 million water park, is nownplanning an amusement park featuringna River of Life ride that will takenChristian fun-seekers first to Heavenn(“in quadraphonic sound”), and thennto Hell (with “eyeballs melting out ofntheir sockets”). Objective observersnmight call this plan vulgar, and theynmight be right. But at least one verynnonobjective observer—the one who’snnever cooled off—knows more. Henknows that all such amusements arenlikely to pull the faithful from theirnprayer closets; that none of them arendesigned to make Christians so miserablenthat they “can’t eat, sleep, rest, ornthink” (though they would do the tricknfor me).nAnd then there are the religiousnpoliticians who, lured by greater politicalninfluence, might be tempted tonsoft-pedal their beliefs and double-talkntheir way into wider political acceptance.nVery risky with a man likenJimmy Swaggart around, a man withnan ax, a man who not only counts thenmeans as important as the end, butnwho believes the means determine thenend.nDECEMBER 1386 / 45n