The Right Coast

March 03, 2005
Religion's Answer to Hunter S. Thompson
By Maimon Schwarzschild

One of the great televangelists died last week: Gene Scott.

This English obit is a little snooty (and registration is required) but it captures the general flavour:
Scott's appeal lay in his genius as an entertainer. Buccaneering, shaggy-haired and bearded under a bandana or flamboyant hat, he was by turns unpredictable, outrageous, funny and inspired, but always compelling. Fat cigar in hand, his face contorted with rage, he would mix scripture with profanity-laden monologues about the state of the world ("Nuke 'em in the name of Jesus!" he cried during the Gulf War), punctuated with demands for more money.

When he found himself under investigation by the authorities for alleged fraud, he assembled a band of wind-up toy monkeys, then proceeded to smash them to pieces on television with a baseball bat.
Scott was surely an improbable figure on television: he had the manner of a crudely intelligent and very ill-behaved good ole' boy. He was gloriously ill suited as any sort of pastor.

Scott was the the son of an itinerant preacher, and took up the family business, as so many people do. But unlike many second generation evangelists, he was the very opposite of the unctuous, smoothly corporate evangelist. Gene Scott was one of life's rowdies.

The Telegraph delivers, perfectly deadpan, a fact I had not known about the preacher that Scott's father apparently replaced when the Scotts moved to California during the Depression:
The son of a travelling preacher, Eugene Scott was born on August 14 1929, at Buhl, Idaho. Shortly afterwards, the family moved to Gridley in northern California where Gene's father took over as pastor of an Assemblies of God church after the previous incumbent crucified himself.
Go ahead and register and read the whole thing.