A young heckler accused the Rev. Jimmy Swaggart of hypocrisy and was ousted from church after the fallen evangelist warned worshipers against "gloom and doubt" during Easter services Sunday.
"Brother Swaggart, your hypocrisy is scornful of the government of God!" the youth, apparently about 16, called out during a brief lull in the service at the Family Worship Center built by the evangelist.
He also accused Swaggart of taking "money from congregants" and being "immoral."
Swaggart, suspended from preaching since he tearfully confessed unspecified sin on Feb. 21, was sitting on the church's stage at the time of the outburst with his wife, Frances, and other church leaders. A prostitute has said that Swaggart paid her to pose nude for him.
The Rev. Jim Rentz, who has taken over as pastor, watched the youth for a moment and then said: "Let's stand, folks, and let's just praise the Lord."
Critic Drowned Out
Rentz and the congregation then drowned out the heckler until ushers escorted him out. Swaggart's Family Worship Center seats 5,000 people and usually is packed, but the service Sunday drew only about 3,000.
The incident followed a brief message by Swaggart.
"Satan says it's over. Jesus says look at the blood. Demons say it's over. Jesus says look at the blood. Gloom and doubt says it's ended, but Jesus says look at the blood!" Swaggart said.
Swaggart's attorney said last week that the preacher will defy the church's one-year ban and return to the pulpit May 22, three months after he stepped down. National church leaders have said that he will be dismissed from the denomination if he does not submit to the discipline.
Swaggart's attorney, William Treeby, said he expected that the Assemblies of God would dismiss the preacher.
A newspaper reported Sunday that Swaggart is prepared to risk dismissal because his financially troubled ministry cannot survive a one-year hiatus.
Swaggart was forced to announce that he will resume televised preaching in order to reassure station managers who have contracts to air his programs, the New Orleans Times-Picayune quoted a Swaggart source as saying Sunday.
The paper said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, has access to the ministry's financial records. Donations to the ministry have dwindled from about $500,000 a day to perhaps less than $350,000 a day, the minimum amount necessary to sustain operations, the paper reported.
Raymond Carlson, general superintendent of the Louisiana Assemblies of God, said he thought Swaggart could appeal to the General Presbytery. The constitution and bylaws say, however, that a suspended minister may not appeal the terms of his rehabilitation. He may only appeal the decision on his guilt or innocence.