Saturday, November 24, 2007

Another Evangelical Resigns

Remember the good old days when an Evangelical leader's claim to fame was that "God would call him home unless his followers sent money?"

In 1987, television preacher Oral Roberts made a dramatic appeal. If his supporters did not send donations totaling $8 million dollars within three months, he warned that God would "call me home." There were those who complained that Roberts was extorting his viewers and using the Deity as an accomplice, but there was no doubting his charisma — or his results. Roberts received over $9 million, and God did not call him home.
It seems that Oral's son Richard Roberts, who took over the reigns of Oral Roberts University when his father retired, has given a whole new meaning to 'coming home.'

On Wednesday, the head regent at Oral Roberts University announced that the school is an astonishing $52.5 million in debt. This news arrived just three weeks after the revelation of a wrongful termination suit filed against the school by three former professors who claim that they were fired after providing the school's Board of Regents with a report detailing moral and ethical lapses by Oral's son Richard, who had inherited the school's presidency from his father, and Richard's wife Lindsay. Among the allegations: the Roberts had remodeled their home eleven times in 14 years with university money; they bankrolled one of their daughters' $29,411 trip to the Bahamas with school funds; and Lindsay Roberts had spent the night in an O.R.U. guest-house with an underage male nine times.
Which was maybe a contributing factor for why Mrs. Robinson Roberts is alleged to have gone on a $39,000 shopping spree at one store. Victoria's Secrets maybe???

Richard Roberts went on Larry King Live in October claiming the charges amounted to "intimidation, blackmail and extortion." On Friday Roberts said in a statement:
“I love O.R.U. with all my heart. I love the students, faculty, staff and administration, and I want to see God’s best for all of them.”
What's not to love? ha

Roberts also said: "The devil is not going to steal O.R.U."

No, Richard, you've taken care of that! Or did he?

Time magazine reports:
The whole affair is a sad denouement for one of the pioneers of televangelism, a man who, in the early 1980s, seemed poised to pull the then-declasse Pentecostal and Charismatic traditions, which emphasize gifts of the Holy Spirit such as healing and speaking in tongues, into the mainstream. Says Randall Balmer, chair of the religion department at Barnard College, who has written about Roberts, "I feel badly for him. This must be a blow."

What happened? J. Lee Grady, the editor of the magazine Charisma, wrote recently, "I don't know about you, but I'm having flashbacks of 1987," the year that the sexploits of Jimmy Swaggart and financial hijinks of Jim Bakker gave televangelism its reputation for sleaze. But while the allegations in the suit certainly meet Swaggart-quality standards of salaciousness, the causes of the university's fall may owe more to mismanagement than greed or negligence, suggests John Schmalzbauer, an expert in Christian higher education at Missouri State University. Unless some party siphoned off "massive multimillion-dollar diversion of funds over 25 years," he says, "I think the causes must be deeper and more structural."
And they no doubt are, but in the mean time what the public sees is another fallen Evangelical.


Fran said...

I am trying to work on a post about this whole topic... Not just Roberts but this so-called faith movement and fundies.

That said, this is no surprise and it is what happens when people show up with all the answers and no questions. And the reminder that questions are not essential.

And the "prosperity" gospel that many of him and his ilk preach? As a follower of Jesus I am not so sure he got hung up on a cross so that I could go shopping.

That is not to say I don't go shopping, yes I do. However, I don't think how much money I have or don't is because I have I have been a little sunbeam for Jesus.

It really kills me because if there was one group that Jesus constantly stood up for and one group that he called to examine their hearts it was the poor and then the rich.

BAC said...

Oral Roberts must just be beside himself by all this. He is certainly a bit of wacky person himself, but he did seem to at least 'walk the talk' ... loved his family, not involved in any of the scandals that his son has been involved in, and unlike his son he does seem to believe this shit.

Maybe Richard is an example of kids-who-get-pushed-into-the-family-business-going-wrong.


dguzman said...

I have a hard time thinking that any televangelist could ever really have true faith to back up their "preaching." They're too money-focused, and it's no surprise when that money corrupts them.