Dr Gene Scott, 1929 - 2005


photo of Dr Gene Scott

They're probably having a hell of a party in heaven about now. Famous teacher and televangelist Dr Gene Scott died on Monday, February 21, 2005 at age 75. You could really see him having a good old time arguing philosophy and theology with the saints. St Peter's probably picking up some new theological insights right now.
NEWS STORY                       BAD GENE SCOTT!
Beautiful rant video:  Gene Scott cusses out some two bit punks! 

Lengthy 1994 Los Angeles Times profile

Gene Scott was the only preacher on tv worth watching. Over 30 years on the tube, he grew long hair and a big shaggy beard, and was usually chewing on a cigar. He came off as more of a really nutty professor rather than a preacher per se, given to reading extensively on air from obscure historical works and history books- with commentary, of course.

Then for a break, he'd talk about his fancy cars and race horses. Queue up the video, and he'd be out in the barn inspecting his prize race horses- with a couple of big-breasted model types on his arm.

This purely boyish delight in showing off his goodies and getting the goats of all the church ladies (religious and secular) naturally enraged all kinds of self-appointed guardians of public morality. He had run-ins with different official types, trying to make some kind of case of fraud or financial impropriety. The California Attorney General's office screwed with him for a couple of years in the 70s before legislative reform finally trimmed their harassment abilities.

They never got anywhere, most likely because he was clean and above board. Also, he was famously resistant to auditors. Robin Williams once imitated him, saying, "The word 'audit' does not appear in the Bible." I'd presume that Williams made that up, but it's not far from stuff I heard him actually say on a regular basis. It was also hard to really justify being indignant when his followers were sending in donations marked with statements like, "Gene Scott can do whatever he wants with this money."

Really, these attorney generals and tax folk just provided grist for his mill. Among other things, this Rennaissance man was a painter. (He's said to have his own paintings displayed in his private museum alongside original Rembrandt and Monet.) At one point in the early '90s, I saw him hawking prints of an impressionist painting he'd done called "A Bureaucrat (And what to do with him)."

"A skinflint may get to Heaven, but what awaits him are a rusty old halo, a skinny old cloud, and a robe so worn it scratches. First-class salvation costs money."

Among his many interests, he played saxophone. Obviously he liked to share that gift on air. I believe he was also a songwriter. I don't know who else could possibly have written such a song as his perennial favorite "Kill a Pissant for Jesus." He was also considered a world-class stamp collector. (For being the author of a couple of dozen books, a stamp book was the only thing I could find for him on Amazon.)

Here's a particularly fun bio of Dr Scott from Rotten.com. This makes a good example of a fairly common phenomenon: Even people dead set on hating "televangelists" can't quite help but admire him, and revel in his rebel charm.

I've seen several stories such as this Rotten.com piece describe Dr Gene as perpetually "angry." That's really not right at all. Now, he could certainly get annoyed with whatever jackass crossed his path that day, but such displays were seemingly more for the entertainment of his audience than from any deep feelings of resentment. His anger was mostly skin deep. He really seriously ENJOYED his work, and it came through. Gene Scott gave FUN rants, not hate rants.

As to the shaking down of the congregation for some bucks, he had rather a different outlook than most. He generally didn't come begging on how the church needs money, or some Third World food bank he was sponsoring needed help, or any of those typical approaches.

As he viewed it, his students OWED him money for his teaching. If you're learning from his broadcasts, then you should be paying the teacher. "Get on the telephone!" he liked to bellow in that gravelly voice. "I'm not selling forty-pound Bibles, or water from Jordan, or 4,000 plastic crosses made by the Japanese and sold to Arabs. I don't send out 'healing cloths' or tear up my shirt. I say: what's what I've done worth? Whatever the meal I've fed you is worth, pay up."

He was born in Idaho in 1929, the son of an itinerant preacher. As a young boy, his infant brother died in the bed next to him, resulting in this explanation from his mother Inez Leona Graves Scott in a 1980 interview, "I saw a stairway begin to roll down from heaven and come right down to the side of my bed. Two angels walked down and they stopped in front of Gene. I said, 'Oh no, Lord, you can't take Gene!' and they just went around him and picked the baby up."

You can well imagine how such a background- coupled with genius intelligence- might result in an exceptionally interesting character. It did.

He got a PhD in 1957 from Stanford University for "philosophies of education," whatever that exactly means. He sure seemed to have created his own special philosophy of education as a tv preacher.

He was some kind of freaky evangelical. He was involved somewhere in the creation of Oral Roberts University. His background and original affiliation was Assemblies of God, which he resigned before he took over as pastor of the Faith Center in the 70s, leading to the 15K member congregation and television presence of his glory days.

I'm not sure the state of his empire at the time of his death, but he was broadcasting on his own satellite University Network channel 24/7, and was translated into at least eight languages broadcast on tv and radio in over 180 countries. The dude was a machine.

As a theologian, he de-emphasized what he might have viewed as relatively trivial lifestyle issues. "I take you as you are, as God takes me as I am." He was not known for wagging the finger at sinners for typical petty sins of the flesh. I don't think I ever heard him preach against drugs and fornication.

What he preached FOR was a staunch belief in the Resurrection, and the power of believing in Jesus Christ of Nazareth. That, and the therapeutic power of screwing with bureaucrats.

He mostly liked to carry on with his bad boy image, but he was also major philanthropist, giving and raising money for many charitable causes over the years. Among other things, he was on the board of the Richard Pryor Burn Center.

Maybe Dr Scott can learn some of them old popes and saints and such a thing or two about the Bible and God and law. It'd sure be fun to watch him try.


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