Gene Scott, RIP

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UPDATED after the jump with links to other blog reminiscences of Gene Scott. And don't miss my multimedia homage to Doc's fundraising style.

Another UPDATE 11/29/2005: The Wittenburg Door, a Christian satire magazine, has a short video of Gene Scott in one of his fundraising rants. My parody of him was extremely mild in comparison to reality.

It was the summer of 1986. I had just graduated from MIT and came back to Tulsa to look for a job, either here or in northwest Arkansas near my girlfriend. Dad had been laid off the previous September after 20 years with Cities Service and had taken a job in Abilene, Texas. Mom planned to move down there in a few months. My sister was back home after her freshman year at OU, and I had moved back home.

Since I didn't have to be up mornings, Mom and sister and I would tune in every night to watch KSHB out of Kansas City -- Uncle Ed Muscari's "All Night Live". I'd make a pan of Orville Redenbacher, and we'd watch "Twilight Zone", "Alfred Hitchcock Presents", and the Three Stooges, interspersed with Uncle Ed talking on the banana phone, his cat Caffeina snoozing in front of him on the desk. At midnight we'd switch over and catch Letterman.

When Letterman went off at 1, if I wasn't ready to crash, I'd surf over and watch Dr. Gene Scott. I don't remember if he was on KSHB, or some other channel. He was strange, but strangely compelling, this preacher smoking a cigar, wearing one funny hat or another, shouting at his pledge-takers, showing the same ancient video of the Statesmen singing "I Want to Know" over and over and over again until he raised as much money as he felt was necessary before he continued his teaching. Another tune that got heavy rotation was "The P*ssant Song," a ditty devoted to all the carpers and complainers who criticized Scott's teaching and style.

Where was the money going? You didn't need to know. Gifts were payable to Dr. Gene Scott himself -- not a tax-exempt ministry. He could and would do with them as he pleased. He might buy expensive clothes, cigars, saddlebred horses. In his view, you didn't give for specific projects; you gave in appreciation for his teaching. The man lived large, but he also is said to have given generously.

As a lover of downtowns and historic buildings, I was fascinated when he set out to buy the old Church of the Open Door in downtown L.A., topped by the "JESUS SAVES" neon sign, to turn it into his University Cathedral. That deal fell through and the building came down, but he salvaged the "JESUS SAVES" sign, then bought and restored the United Artists Theatre, a Spanish Gothic structure built in the 1927.

When he finally got around to teaching, he might talk about the pyramids, the Davidic heritage of British royalty, or UFOs. Or he might actually open the Scriptures.

When he actually taught, the focus was always on faith. He didn't preach on morality, he didn't call on his congregation to change themselves, but taught that as you start practicing faith, God would change you in spite of yourself. In some ways, he was sound, albeit unbalanced. He was right to teach that being a Christian wasn't about following a list of dos and don'ts, but wrong to ignore the call on Christians to obey Christ as our Lord and Master. (You can find RealAudio files of some of his sermons here.)

The one teaching that really stuck with me was his teaching on the Lord's Supper. For years I had been taught that I Corinthians 11:27 means that I should only participate in the Lord's Supper if I was worthy of participating. How many people, crushed in spirit by the knowledge of their own pervasive sinfulness, have stayed away from the very means that Christ gave to remind us of his sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins and the restoration of our relationship with God? Dr. Gene pointed out that the word in that verse is "unworthily" not "unworthy" -- an adverb, not an adjective -- it's about whether I approach the Lord's Table with a proper reverence and understanding of its significance. I can never be worthy, except in Christ's righteousness alone. (I think Doc went too far in teaching that we could take communion on our own, using Cheezits and Pepsi instead of bread and wine.)

If you want to read more about Gene Scott, here's a profile from about 10 years ago. And here's another Gene Scott profile from the Orange County Weekly. If you already know him and just want to reminisce, check out the Daffy Net, where I found the images and audio for the previous entry.

Other blogging on Dr. Gene Scott:

  • The Owner's Manual: "The first time I saw Gene Scott, he was wearing a Patton-style combat helmet, kilt, and smoking a Cigar, not to be confused with a cigar. He was lying back in a lounger recounting biblical archeology, weaving disparate threads into ropes for holding down some major thesis. It was the religion of gruff bluster delivered with hypnotic self-confidence by a cross between pre-Coca-Cola Santa Claus and Richard Nixon."
  • More Things: "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."
  • ZuDfunck: "His Bible lessons interspersed with long segments of equestrian footage could become downright surreal at three in the morning!"
  • Chardman Land: "He often did cool lectures on UFOs, Nikola Tesla, the Bermuda Triangle and The Spear of Destiny. Do you think Pat and Jan Crouch would do that for you?"
  • The Muse at Sunset: Features a photo of Doc in his "hangover hider" glasses
  • Franklin Avenue: "Get on the telephone!"
  • Brad Boydston: "What are bored seminary students going to watch for entertainment now that he's gone?"
  • Torrent of Consciousness: "It was like a carnival freakshow- we couldnt take our eyes off of him. And sometimes he stared right back at us- without saying a word for like 2 or 3 minutes." (This blogger is evidently another Okie, and Orthodox as well. He's got a link to Scott's cigar recommendations.)
  • Edifying Spectacle: "Someone had just given Jimmy Swaggart a gold Rolex watch.... Dr. Scott wasn't outraged at the waste of money. He was p*ssed because no one had given him an expensive watch. He was inviting a believing soul to understand God's will and give him a gold Rolex.... I can't remember if it was this telecast or another where he exploded that people could "go down the slimy chute to Hell" if they didn't give him money. " (The entry features responses from a couple of Scott's followers.)
  • Thomas Hawk: "He would say the most outrageous things in his bully like demands for people to give up their money. You were definitely going to hell if you didn't give and your place in heaven was largely a determination of how much you gave.... '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.'"

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» Gene Scott - Gonzo Evangelist from The Owner's Manual

Link: Shaggy-haired, cigar-smoking televangelist Gene Scott dies at age 75. When I read that, comparisons leapt to mind like starving fleas too long without a dog; a Vesuvius of similies involving Hunter S Thompson and Gene Scott, both now Read More

17 Comments

Bobby said:

I remember watching the "Doc" late at night. Here is the obit. from the L.A. Times.

http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-scott23feb23,1,6165151.story?coll=la-news-obituaries&ctrack=2&cset=true

It's interesting that ol' Merle Haggard was a member of his church.

janice said:

I thought he was the biggest scam artist I have ever seen or heard anywhere....a million dollars a month? Shows what dumb people there are in the world.....what did he do with all this money? And what happens to it now? I wonder! If they have a auction or sale of his horses-equipment I would like to go, otherwise I wouldn't have walked across the street to see him or hear him period..I think of all the money dumped in his lap and how he laughed about it!! DUMB!

Kevin Carson said:

Michael,

Nice to know you're a Dr. Gene Scott fan. It took me a long time to decide he wasn't just some fictional persona adopting a made-up religion for the purposes of some role-playing game, like the Church of the Subgenius.

janice,

Scott was a scam artist, but he provided better entertainment than most celebrities with ten times his incomes.

John said:

You write,
"When he actually taught, the focus was always on faith. He didn't preach on morality, he didn't call on his congregation to change themselves, but taught that as you start practicing faith, God would change you in spite of yourself."
Absolutely correct.

You write,
"In some ways, he was sound, albeit unbalanced. He was right to teach that being a Christian wasn't about following a list of dos and don'ts, but wrong to ignore the call on Christians to obey Christ as our Lord and Master."
When did he ever ignore such a call? This was his whole point. To live by faith is to make choices that put God first (e.g., go to the Cathedral instead of spend your time on your flesh at the beach, tithe and give firstfruits and trust God to meet your financial needs, rather than wasting your money on your flesh). Sometimes they're absolutely cold-turkey choices, like the way he insisted he himself make it to the Cathedral to preach even though he was suffering from cancer. He could have taken the easy way out and stayed in the hospital bed. What he did was to obey Christ as Lord and Master.
Living by faith is harder than trying to be good, since most people get to a certain point of achievement that seems good to them and then stop. E.g., I don't cheat on my wife. But do you look at another woman, no matter how surreptitiously? Living by faith will over time change you more and more into a man who not only doesn't cheat on his wife, but deep inside the lust that used to control him goes away, and he wants to cherish his wife more. Just an example. He always taught this about faith.

Floyd said:


ScottEnemies


Why
Does Dr. Scott have enemies?




Here is my perception:



As usual, it's never what appears on the surface. It's not about
smoking cigars, or that he's twice divorced. Rush Limbaugh is divorced
3 times but that is quickly ignored by the faithful. Perceived
lifestyle is only
an excuse. 

I think it's because of the many GROUPS who's toes he tread on.



Gene Scott did
not suffer Fools
or Dummies.
But he was a very funny
guy who had lots
of fun on his show and gave his audience lots of laughs along with lots
to think about, and that always offends somebody.



By taking it one group at a time it's easier to understand the context:



1) Fundamentalist Christians: 
This was his upbringing and
it is for Fundamentalist Christians that he reserved his most
searing criticism. He smoked cigars to irritate them and make the point
that it is not unBiblical to do so. Some of his funniest TV bits were
about making the point that salvation is by Grace, not by
the many rules and works. It was to stiff-necked tight-a$$ed
judgemental and blatently hypocritical Fundamentalists he often aimed
his
flames.



2) Mainline Protestant
Christians:
  Since like
himself,
Mainline Protestant
clergy is usually well educated, he was relentless in forcing them to
rethink their lazy traditions which subvert the word of God. He gave
them
no excuse for Biblical ignorance, or for
twisting doctrine for undoctrinal reasons. He was a great admirer of
the
teachings of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation, and they
received a very high profile in his
own teaching. Dr.Gene Scott taught far more classical Martin Luther
than any
Lutheran Synod I'm aware of.



3) Roman Catholic Christians:
He had little to say specifically
about Catholicism different from what he also said about other Mainline
Christians, but being the large and vulnerable target that it is, the
Papacy received occasional criticism. The rigidity and know-it-all
closed-mindedness of Catholic Traditionalism was cut no slack.



4) Jews: 
He had a good relationship with Orthodox
Jews

and
was well respected in the Los Angeles community. He even loaned
precious Torahs from his exceptional collection of Bibles for use at
special Jewish occasions.  He was every bit as strong an
authority
on the Old Testament as Orthodox Rabbis, and they were able to talk as
peers, and in any ancient Biblical language desired.



But with non-Orthodox Jews
who make up the vast majority he
found some
conflicts. When he traced the Biblical trail of the Israelites and
discovered (as have many before and after him) that the "Lost Tribes"
are really just the majority non-Jewish Israelites who make up the
majority of today's Christians, that stepped on some tender toes
which needed a feeling of exclusivity. But that teaching was only a
tiny part of his ministry.



5) Government Bureaucrats: 
He did not take kindly to being
pushed around by tyrants and bureaucrats, and he pushed back with a
vengeance, often in court. He usually won, sometimes under impossible
conditions, and made many powerful enemies in the FCC and elsewhere.
But he also made strong and very powerful political friends in
California.



6) The Media:
Gene Scott, even before Rush Limbaugh, was at the
forefront of fighting back against the media and making it stick. He
ridiculed them mercilessly and with disastrous humour. Now that he is
dead, the weenies and piss-ants in the
media (and the above categories) will take shots at him because
he can't fight back and humiliate them on his own airtime; It's like
what they did to Rush when they thought he was going off the air.



There are probably additional reasons why the grave robbers and
character assassins will be active
in undermining the reputation of this rare scholar, teacher, and
Renaissance Man. The telling part is they cannot do it by challenging
his
teaching, only by attacking the man.





STEPHEN WINKLER said:

I think that Dr. Gene Scott was the greatest religious leader of all time with the exception of Jesus Christ.
His passing was a shock for me and I'm not over it yet. This is a very sad time for all Christians, because we have suffered a loss that is not weighable. For me it is almost a personal tragedy, like a member of my family had passed away. Incidentally, my mother had also passed away from a stroke.
My condolences to Melissa.


JFK said:

In 1980 I was 20 years old and I watched Doc all the time.Roughly 1977 through 1985 or so.I learned alot from watching him but over the years as I grew in my own relationship with God I couldn't watch him for very long.His antics at first were fun to watch and he was right on about the hypocrisy of beauracrats and the church world but the truth is he became so very guilty of it all himself.He became more and more obsessed with trying to exault himself through humiliating others.Mathew 23:12"whoever exaults himself shall be humbled and whoever humbles himself shall be exaulted".And he was always trying to take the toothpick out of his neighbors eye when he had a REDWOOD TREE in his own.Please also read 2ND Timothy 2:23-26.He became more and more self righteous every year.He spoke the absolute truth about Gods "COMPLETE" grace toward us yet when I read 1st Corinthians 13 I honestly have trouble not thinking that this was him.A incredibly gifted man with incredible knowledge and not really much geniune love for others.On one of his last broadcasts he said he didn't like the Golden Rule."Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"which Jesus said on this hangs ("ALL") the law and the prophets.He didn't like Jesus's compassionate side much maybe because he didn't have much of one himself.He also misquoted Confucius wrongly.Confucius did say treat your neighbor as yourself.You can find this quote all over the internet.Scott said it was easy to love his "baby"(Melissa)that way but it was hard for him to do that with others.Maybe because you can't do it on your own without the Holy Spirit living inside of you.I beleive he had a real aversion to the genuine love of others.He was very self absorbed.Not to mention all his tyrades,fundraising escapades and extravagances he was constantly subjecting his staff and viewers to.Having said all that,Im not so sure
where he went,upstairs or downstairs.It's a tough call and it's certianly not mine to make and when push comes to shove I have to say that ultimately I hope and (PRAY) he went upstairs because the reality is we have all fallen short of the glory of God and "None is righteous no not one"
"Love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you",yes that means Osama and Sadam to.
Peace & Grace 2 U all

J Bird said:

BOOK OF HOAXSTERS 7:11
And see that HE is my prophet
For I have given him
Limousines,Learjets,Vixens,
Mansions and Racehorses And fools to manify himself!!!
YE SHALL KNOW THEM
BY THEIR FRUITS NOT THEIR SUITES

Andrew said:

I empathise with both Stephan Winkler and Jfk. Scott
was one of the greatest teachers of our time and will be sorely missed by me. He also had a problem with love. Part of me wants to forgive that as none of us are perfect. But I am also aware of the fruit of the sprit. Long story short, I am not sure what make of the man. He was a profound figure in my life in getting me to Jesus Christ. But I also tired of his antics. When I moved away from California many years ago, I lost touch with him for years. But was quite pleased when I found his website and teaching archive a few years back. Now last I checked the archive is down. Which I think is a shame. Other Christians need some of that stuff that only he gave. But something tells me we have heard the last of him. I have grown in my walk since the 80's. I have not outgrown Scotts teaching, but I have outgrown his anger. But regardless of the faults of the man (and there were many), the world needed to hear what he had to say at his best. Sadly, they were more content to hear him at his worst. That is probably the way of the world. But I will choose to remember the better part of him.

Glenn said:

I knew some of Dr. Scott's pre-TV friends - they didn't understand him either, but they all admitted he was brilliant and interesting.

I learned a lot from him by watching the broadcast - I hope they continue to air his unusual delivery. By now, I'm sure he's having some animated discussions with Paul and Confuscious.

One of a kind - he'll be missed.

RonL said:

Dr. Scott fought prostate cancer since 2000 that had metastasized throughout his body, he finally died February 21, 2005 after much pain. He is survived by his wife Melissa Pastore-Scott, whom he married in 2000. Mrs. Scott, whose background is in the adult entertainment industry, is now the pastor of Dr. Scott's church.

James said:

Luke 8:10 "Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God; but to others in parables; that seeing they may not see, and hearing they might not understand."
Most of you do not see and do not understand.

gerald krug said:

I actually called the "voices of faith" and asked why pastor Melissa Scott wasn't teaching.I guess she has caved in to the critics.I'm in tears.I support her and I know she got my message.She has gotten a hugh load to do,that's for sure.She is so beautiful and her mannerisms are so lovingly expressive.Can't you see the gift that Dr.Scott has given us to
ponder,admire and share with?I was so thrilled to hear her speak after "Doc"
passed.She had always only sang.Her tributes to her husband were so real and natural,even with the old videos.I know some of the insides of the ministry and as my daddy said to me,"Son,you can't live your whole life on B.S.",so tell me how did this ministry survive?Try by truth.

Posted by: gerald krug | July 7, 2005 03:38 PM
www.heavenonearth.biz

Pastor Melissa Scott is not so nice in person.
She's mean and ungrateful to her staff and
cadre of volunteers. Despite her dubious
background and newness to Christianity she
readily humiliates the thirty year veterans
in Dr. Scott's church. She has fired many
and driven away others by the droves.
Melissa Scott (televangelist) is a good
actress when the cameras are on her.
The enthusiasm in her cathedral audiences
is decidedly forced and lackluster.
The rabid core of followers fear a loss
of their eternal salvation if they
don't serve her demands as they did
Dr. Scott's.

mrnewguy said:

Really Jason?

I'm curious as to your inside source.

Personally, I suspect it is your own bitterness and for that you should be ashamed.

Her dubious background? What about Rahab? She was a whorehouse madame and is not only mentioned in Hebrews 11 in the gallery of faith heroes, but is also an ancestor of Jesus the Christ.

You are in no position to determine whether members of the congregation fear eternal damnation for "disobedience". Her character and kindness are openly manifest for all to see both on TV and behind the scenes.

I recommend you repent of your lies before they take you down a road, the end of which you will not like so much.

At this point, I'm going to close the debate about Gene Scott's widow, as it is way off-topic. I won't approve any more comments on this entry unless they are reminiscences about Gene Scott's life and ministry -- positive or negative.

John said:

I have been living up in the mountains for the past eight months and this is the first I heard of docs passing ( no tv here). I used to work at KVOF. in the early eighties. Yes Doc had his faults. But no one I have ever known fought the devil and lived up to the great commision of Jesus as well as he did. I feel the loss of his passing as I would a family member. He was the most open and honest public figure that I have ever known. He was one of Gods precious gifts to all of us, and I am going to miss not being able to go on the internet or the early morning tube and hear his commentary about events of the day. I love the man, and now he rests, awaiting the awakening by our eternal father. I feel a sorry I can't say to him, Just once more, thank you for your teaching Doc. But I know our father will say, everything that he needs to hear when he takes him in his arms. JJB

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on February 23, 2005 11:34 PM.

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