Jimmy Swaggart The Classics
SBN International, 7 July 2015, 17:00
Son Life Broadcasting Network International ( SBN International ) broadcasts on digital satellite platforms, primarily to a Christian audience. The channel's content consists of music and sermons by Christian televangelist Jimmy Swaggart and
members of his ministry.
A complainant alerted Ofcom to homophobic comments made during a 1985 sermon delivered by Jimmy Swaggart to an audience in Texas, and included in this Jimmy Swaggart the Crusade Classics programme.
At about 17:52 Jimmy Swaggart moved to the centre of the stage and began his sermon. He said that the world, and more specifically the United States, was being inundated by a variety of sexual sins . He stated, Our nation staggers under a
quagmire of filth . He then listed the following as filth : pornography ; homosexuality ; paedophilia ; sexual child abuse and incest, which runs rampant in the United States .
After referring to a Gay Pride event that had taken place in San Francisco, he stated that the Board of Deputies had issued a permit for this vile, degenerate event to be consummated , and went on to say that homosexuals were sex perverts, that
is the correct terminology . To applause from the audience he added that homosexuals were not gay, not alternate lifestyle, but sex perverts . Describing scenes at the New Orleans Mardi Gras, he said that he saw repulsive looking
transvestites , who had disgraced the floats with their obnoxious presence .
Ofcom considered its Rule 2.3:
In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context... Such material may include, but is not limited to...humiliation, distress, violation of human dignity, discriminatory
treatment or language (for example on the grounds of age, disability, gender, race, religion, beliefs and sexual orientation).
Licensee Lancaster LLC stated that this programme was broadcast as a result of human error :
The fact that this programme aired in the UK on 7th July 2015 was a scheduling error which should not have occurred. Lancaster LLC acknowledged that some of the terminology used at the time this sermon was originally delivered might be considered
offensive to members of the homosexual community in the present day, for which the channel sincerely apologizes.
Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 2.3
We first considered whether this content had the potential to cause offence. Ofcom noted that Jimmy Swaggart described a Gay Pride parade as a vile, degenerate event , homosexuals as sex perverts , and transvestites as disgracing floats at
a carnival by their obnoxious presence . Specifically referring to the San Francisco Gay Pride event, Jimmy Swaggart described it as the most obscene demonstration in the history of modern day nations [which] took place uninterrupted in the
city of San Francisco and a vile degenerate event to be consummated . Jimmy Swaggart did not specifically identify homosexual people as degenerate , but by referring to the Gay Parade event as a degenerate event , and an obscene demonstration
, viewers would have been left in no doubt that the participants in the parade were themselves being viewed as degenerate and obscene . Further, although he did not describe homosexual people as filth , Jimmy Swaggart did include
homosexuality in his list of sins which were filth . In our view this language was derogatory, homophobic and clearly capable of causing offence.
In Ofcom's view it would have been clear to viewers from factors like the on-screen graphic and style of dress of participants in the programme that the sermon dated from many years ago. We recognised that Jimmy Swaggart's remarks may have been likely to
cause a lower level of offence to some when they were originally made in the 1980s. But we noted that when they were broadcast in this programme in 2015, they were much more likely to be understood by viewers as pejorative abuse, rather than remarks
grounded in religious teaching. We noted that in his sermon Jimmy Swaggart did make some references to scripture seeking to support of his statements, but in our view none of his Biblical references (as summarised by the Licensee) clearly provided
support from the Bible for describing homosexual people as sex perverts and homosexuality as filth . We concluded therefore that these comments were likely to have exceeded the expectations of the audience for this channel.
Breach of Rule 2.3
Shamefully Ofcom seem perfectly ok with heterosexual porn viewers being labelled as people staggering under a quagmire of filth.