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Oral Roberts (Born Granville Oral Roberts, 1918 - 2009) (yes, this is his name, as posted on the ministry web site) was a televangelist and faith healer best known for claiming in 1987 that, if his ministry did not raise $8 million, he would be "called home to the Lord," (an evangelical euphemism for dying), which he was, though (unfortunately) much later, on December 15, 2009.
Originally a minister in the Pentecostal Holiness Church, he switched his denominational affiliation to Methodist but still maintained a Pentecostal theology. After the deaths of his daughter and son-in-law in a fatal plane crash in 1977, his son Ronnie (who apparently committed suicide after becoming addicted to drugs in Vietnam) and two grandchildren to sudden infant death, Roberts went on a spiritual pilgrimage and unfortunately sought the support of Kenneth Hagin, the creator of a prosperity cult he called "Word of Faith": the Prosperity Gospel, or "Name it and claim it", school of religious faith. The stress caused by these deaths seems to have sent Oral on a wild ride of alleged visions and new doctrines. Previously an opponent of the prosperity message, Oral was now insisting, to the chagrin of his faculty, that Oral Roberts University award Kagin an honorary doctorate. Additionally, following a series of alleged visions in the late 1970s, including one of a nine-hundred-foot-tall Jesus, Roberts founded the City of Faith Medical and Research Center, a hospital focused on "merging the healing power of medicine and prayer". This project was greatly opposed by the local Baptist hospital which claimed that Tulsa already had more hospital beds than it needed. City of Faith opened in 1981 but was less than a thunderous success, costing Roberts' ministry millions of dollars, and closed in 1989. The buildings still stand as CityPlex Towers on the ORU campus.
He was invited to lead invocation in 1977 Indianapolis 500.
Roberts died December 15, 2009 just days after being hospitalized after a fall.
Oral Roberts University
Roberts founded Oral Roberts University, a fundamentalist Christian university in Oklahoma that, though originally titled City of Faith University, was modestly changed in order to better solicit funds. ORU suffered significantly after Oral's retirement and his insistence that they name his son Richard as the new President. Richard and his wife Lindsay brought about scandals involving he and his wife misappropriating a large amount of school funds, and his wife's sexual liaisons with underage male students (which unfortunately have yet to be charged as a crime). Oral Roberts University has also granted honorary Doctorate of Divinity degrees to several televangelists such as Creflo Dollar and Kenneth Hagin, neither of whom has had any actual formal education in theology. It has also granted one to Richard Roberts himself, who had originally flunked out of both ORU and the University of Kansas undergrad programs.
Oral Roberts likes to boast that it made the Princeton Review's "Best in the West" list of colleges in 2009. However, the nomination was decided by the results of students' answers to "customer (student) satisfaction surveys," not an objective or critical look at the universities' ethics or academics. And seeing as this is a fundamentalist university, it's not likely that fundamentalist students would consider the espousal of young earth creationism, homophobia, or Christian historical revisionism to be a problem—that would be like asking Kevin Trudeau to review one of his own infomercial products, and expecting an objective answer.
Lindsay Roberts sex scandal
In 2007, Lindsay Roberts, the daughter-in-law of Oral Roberts, was discovered to have sent over $800 in cell phone bills' worth of provocative texts to several underage male students at the university.[note 1] She was also seen spending the night in a guest house with a sixteen-year-old male on several occasions, allegedly firing a long-time employee in her office so she could give the job to one of her teenage male friends, and was seen smoking at the President's residence, and was photographed riding around in a sports car at midnight with another teenage boy, past his curfew. To date she has denied the allegations, and has yet to be charged with any sex crimes; the wealthy have an easier time buying their innocence than the rest of us.
Richard Roberts, son of Oral Roberts, also came under fire for knowingly hiring a three-time convicted child sex predator (whose name has not been made public yet) as a "Mentor" for ORU students. The school was hit with a lawsuit after this "mentor" exposed himself to a 15-year-old-boy in a school locker room.
Richard Roberts was later arrested for drunk driving on the anniversary of his father's death.
University's billion dollar embezzlement
At Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, a lawsuit alleged that nearly 1 billion dollars were embezzled by the president, boards of regents, and the directors of the school’s various ministries.
- Really? Millions of dollars on hand and you didn't bother to get unlimited texting?
- Pam Spaulding. "Diary reveals vote tally for Pope." Pam's House Blend. 2005 September 23.