Dr. Gene Scott served faithfully as the Pastor and teacher at Faith Center in Glendale, California from 1975 – 2005. Normally when someone dies, people say nice things about them. Even former enemies can usually find something nice to say. And this was true for the most part in the case of Dr. Gene Scott at his passing. But as media outlets regurgitated the story of his life, the same antiquated cliche’s kept popping up like: “Shock jock of TV evangelism”, or “wacky, late-night preacher…” And the same pictures of him wearing crazy glasses or funny hats were recirculated. This technique was used so consistently by the media, I figured it had to either be due to copycat laziness or that there was a deliberate effort being made to mislead the viewers.
Dr. Gene Scott’s Obituary
Journalists can be lazy like anyone else, and the quick and dirty way to knock out a story is just to grab what’s already out there on the web and change a few words around to “make it your story”. But the fact that so many news outlets focused on the sensational or the negative while totally disregarding the major accomplishments of his life made me wonder if a propaganda effort was indeed underfoot? Was Dr. Scott just another “wacky, late-night, TV evangelist” like they claimed?
The caricatures in these “swoop and poop” obituaries were not only severely limited in their scope, many were just outright wrong. The man earned his Ph.D. n philosophies of Education from Stanford University in 1957, so he was already far more intellectually advanced in the 1950s than the wacky, TV Evangelists of the 1980s that the media tried to lump him in with. And he used his intellectual skills to dig into the original Biblical languages to unpack God’s word for his students each week during his broadcasts. But with his great mind and his powerful oratory skills, the man certainly didn’t need to be a preacher. A tenured position as a university professor would have been the easy way to live out his life, but Dr. Scott had a burning desire to communicate God’s word even if it meant being hated without a cause or having to endure tedious insults from talking heads in the media who possessed half his brain power.
The Great Communicator
The news media called Ronald Reagan “The Great Communicator” for his oratory skills even if they meant it in a disingenuous, underhanded way. They were quick to heap sincere praises for Barack Obama’s oratory skills. Having heard all three men speak, I can safely say that Dr. Scott blows them away. He might start off a sermon behind the podium looking at his notes, but within 10 minutes, he would be stomping around the stage with a thundering voice just masterfully ripping a string of words. He could sound comedic, insightful, bombastic, learned, and full of righteous indignation all within the span of five minutes and without ever referring to his teleprompter! Had he chosen politics or business or any other field, his power with words alone would have seen him to the top of his profession.
There will probably never be another speaker like him in our generation and few so far ahead of his time. He was unraveling the mysteries of Atlantis, UFOs, The Lost Tribes of Israel, the Pyramids, ghost stories and demonology (like the Amityville Horror) decades before the History Channel started delving into it. He routinely uncovered blatant, news media bias decades before Rush Limbaugh and Fox News began to make a living out of it. And he allowed gays in the church way back when it was taboo.
Besides being the greatest Bible teacher of his time, he fought legal battles against a power hungry state to ensure that constitutional church freedoms remained intact and he was instrumental in getting the Petris Bill passed. He rescued Faith Center from financial collapse when he came in as a consultant in 1975. He rescued the historic United Artists Theater on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles — the beautiful Spanish Baroque treasure that Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks built back in 1919. At its peak in the 1920s, all sorts of Hollywood galas were thrown there. But it had fallen into serious disrepair and was little more than haven for crack addicts and gang members with its graffiti’d walls and urine-soaked alleys when Dr. Scott undertook the restoration project in 1990. It took a huge effort to bring it back to life, but after holding church services there for over a decade, the building is now home to the trendy Ace Hotel and fully restored to its former Hollywood glory with a bevy of Grammy and Oscar after parties being held there.
Dr. Gene Scott has also authored over 20 books (with more being published posthumously by his surviving wife, Pastor Melissa Scott), he served as president of the Full Gospel Fellowship from October 1975 to July 1984, and his philanthropic activities included: the Los Angeles Central Library Save the Books telethon; the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center; Rebuild L.A., and the Philatelic Foundation of New York. He has also logged over 1,000 hours of teaching that is being carefully restored and digitized by his wife and successor, Pastor Scott.
Just Another Wacky TV Evangelist?
Comedian Robin Williams made fun of Dr. Scott in a televised skit and writer Hunter Thompson derided Scott as a “late-night ferret” in one of his books. Ironically both would commit suicide when life got too tough for them. But Dr. Scott gutted out his last moments of life with faith in God. He battled pancreatic and other forms of cancer that had spread through his body insisting he fight his way to the podium for his final Sunday to preach God’s word as he had faithfully for most of his adult life.
But never mind all this positive fluff. The newspapers call Dr. Gene Scott just another wacky, late-night, TV Evangelist and they must be right. They always are, after all. Thank God the media can do our thinking for us so we don’t have to. Now we can all mentally file Dr. Scott away in a neatly packaged category — wacky — without ever having to research the man ourselves.