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Swaggart apologizes for anti-gay comment


(RNS) In the face of public backlash and concerns that have reached Canadian broadcasters, Baton Rouge, La. televangelist Jimmy Swaggart said he regrets telling his congregation at a recent televised worship service that if a gay man ever looks at him romantically, "I'm going to kill him and tell God he died."

"It was a tongue-in-cheek statement best left unsaid. I won't make it anymore," Swaggart said in an interview Sept. 21.

A Toronto television station's broadcast of the service produced a complaint before the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, a private, self-regulating industry group that enforces broadcast standards, said Ann Mainville-Neeson, the group's executive director.

Audio clips purporting to be of the Sept. 12 Swaggart service have begun circulating on gay-oriented Web sites.

"I've never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry," Swaggart says to audience laughter on one Internet link. "And I'm going to be blunt and plain: If one ever looks at me like that, I'm going to kill him and tell God he died."

Gay advocacy groups say such language encourages violence against gay men and lesbians.