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William Eugene "Gene" Scott (1929–2005) was a radio evangelist and televangelist who set up shop in the old United Artists theater in downtown Los Angeles, California, which he redubbed the University Cathedral, and is best known for cluttering up the religious airwaves 24/7 with his sermons and heavy-handed fundraising.
His trademark line was to stop in the middle of one of his deadpan sermons and say "Get on the telephone!", and start broadcasting rock & roll music while he caught his breath, which was a signal to his audience to call and pledge donations (which came in to the tune of over $1 million a month). Attendance at University Cathedral church services required a ticket to get in. On occasion he would smoke a cigar at the pulpit. More often he would berate his audience for not going to the telephone to pledge money when he ordered them to. His TV show was the subject of Werner Herzog's 1980 documentary film God's Angry Man that depicts Gene Scott ranting against the Federal Communications Commission and refusing to speak unless his viewers pledge another $600.
He was big into charitable activity such as making large donations to support the Los Angeles Public Library and the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center, which led to speculation that he was trying to buy favor with the Los Angeles city government (à la Jim Jones, who had done the same thing in San Francisco before taking his cult off to Guyana). Not that Gene Scott was in any way another Jim Jones, but he did creep a lot of people out with his oddball style. Diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2000, he refused conventional treatment (opting instead for herbal supplements and relying on God to heal him) and it eventually took his life (oopsie!). Reruns of his sermons are still all over the religious airwaves and on the many radio stations which his ministry bought with its donations, though attendance and viewership has dropped considerably since his widow, former porn star Melissa Scott, has taken over.
His voice has been sampled into the Cabaret Voltaire track Sluggin' for Jesus.
Not to be confused with
- The Shock Jock of Televangelism : With Savvy Philanthropy and an In-Your-Face Style, Dr. Gene Scott Has Generated a Lavish Lifestyle, Powerful Friends in Los Angeles and a Fiercely Loyal Global Following Glenn F. Bunting. Los Angles Times, July 1994
- Gene Scott -- television preacher and philanthropist Larry B. Stammer, SFGate, February 2005
- The Preacher's Unholy Past: Pastor Melissa Scott presides over a televangelist empire. Hard to believe that she was once a triple-X plaything known as Barbie Bridges. Gretchen Voss uncovers the true story behind Scott's divine reinvention. Gretchen Voss, Marie Claire, April 2009.
- Pastor Melissa Scott, Porn Star Lorette C. Luzajic. Patheos, May 2009
- Dr. Gene Scott, RIP Sary Gordon, PR Newswire, February 2005