Oral Report: Former Profs Say TV Preacher Roberts' School Is Immersed In Scandal
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Oct 09, 2007 at 02:22:25 PM EST
As Richard Bartholomew noted on Sunday, TV preacher John Hagee may not be the best person to investigate charges of unethical conduct at Oral Roberts University.

A truly independent investigation of the allegations at ORU is needed -- if for no other reason than to protect the people who have poured millions into the various arms of this ministry over the years.

Oral Roberts has certainly led a colorful life. He claims he once trembled before a 900-foot Jesus and has raised people from the dead. In 1987, Roberts announced that God "would call me home" unless supporters sent him $8 million in donations.

Roberts' son, Richard, now runs ORU. Three former professors - John Swails, Tim Brooker and Paulita Brooker - have filed suit against the school, charging they were wrongly dismissed after they spoke out against ORU's involvement in a local political race. The trio asserts in legal documents that Richard Roberts asked a professor in 2005 to use his students and university resources to help a county commissioner who was running for mayor of Tulsa.

Diverting university resources to a partisan political race would be a big no-no under the Internal Revenue Code. But wait, the story gets better.

Stephanie Cantese, Richard Roberts' sister-in-law, had prepared an internal report on alleged ethical and moral lapses by Roberts and his wife. An ORU student came across the document while repairing Cantese's laptop and turned it over to the fired professors. It has been entered into the court record.

You could call this document explosive. Among its allegations are the following:

  • An employee of ORU's Maintenance Department was fired and his job given to a male friend of Lindsay Roberts, Richard's wife.

  • Lindsay Roberts often ran up cell phone bills of $800 per month, sending hundreds of text messages to "underage males who had been provided phones at university expense."

  • A jet owned by ORU was used to take one of Roberts' daughters and several friends on a trip to Orlando, Fla., and the Bahamas. The $29,411 cost was billed to the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association.  

  • Lindsay Roberts spent more than $39,000 at one clothing store alone in less than a year, charging the clothes to the ministry.  

  • The ministry provided Lindsay Roberts with a Lexus SUV and a Mercedes convertible.  

  • The Roberts' home was remodeled 11 times in the past 14 years at ministry expense.

Remember, these allegations come not from the disgruntled ex-profs but from Richard Roberts' own sister-in-law. If ORU were a public school - or even a secular private institution - chances are government officials would be swarming all over the place trying to determine the accuracy of these allegations.

As it is, ORU is free to conduct its own "independent investigation," as Richard Roberts has vowed to do on the university Web site. It's worth noting that submitting to outside oversight has never been a priority for Oral Roberts' endeavors. The ministry is not a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, and the Web site Charity Navigator gives the ministry one star out of four.

The Tulsa World reported that in 1989, Richard Roberts asked supporters for $11 million to keep ORU going. In 1991, he demanded more contributions "or all hell is going to break loose against this ministry."

There are probably not a lot of donors to Roberts who read this blog. But some of you might have a  parent, aunt, cousin or other relative sending checks to the Roberts empire. How are these people, especially those who live on fixed incomes, to be protected?

Ministries should be free to spread their evangelistic messages -- but not engage in outright fraud. If it turns out that Roberts was using your Uncle Barney's tax-free contributions for the enrichment of his own family or for partisan political purposes, that should be of interest to the IRS. Here's hoping the relevant authorities are following this fascinating story.

And I expect to keep hearing it as time goes on.

When people finally catch on that they've bought into one of the modern world's worst scams (fundamentalism), then maybe it will change.

You see this pattern of living off the suffering of others and corruption at all levels of the fundamentalist churches.  Only the sheeple aren't in on the scam.

Trying to alert people, however, is generally an exercise in futility- they tend to believe their masters and think you're attacking God.

It's things like this- if they get the proper coverage in the news- that help to break down the programming.

by ArchaeoBob on Wed Oct 10, 2007 at 10:44:45 AM EST

Rob, Richard's first wife wrote a book about this over 20 years ago.  It described this lifestyle by the family.  They flew on jets to play golf or just shop. Oral told Richard to leave her she believes because she blew the whistle.  ORU's favorite son is the darling graduate in math by the name of David Barton. This is the type of scholarly setting Barton received his diploma from. If this disclosure did nothing to slow down the offerings decades ago I doubt it will matter little today to the types of people who sent their contributions.

by wilkyjr on Tue Oct 09, 2007 at 03:10:04 PM EST

a tin-pot monarchy, not a university.

by nogodsnomasters on Tue Oct 09, 2007 at 06:20:37 PM EST

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