Oral Roberts University: Saved by the bail out
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Feb 06, 2008 at 02:30:03 PM EST
An early Oral Roberts sighting

I first discovered Oral Roberts when I was a young boy growing up Jewish in the Bronx, New York of the 1950s. Actually, like Columbus "finding" America, I found Roberts quite by accident.

One day while standing (pre-remote control) in front of my parents' 16" black and white television and switching channels hoping to tune into another Million Dollar Movie repeat showing of "Yankee Doodle Dandy," I encountered Mr. Roberts. He was, I believe delivering what appeared to be a very heart-felt sermon to a nicely dressed audience.

I knew from sermons; after all I faithfully attended Hebrew School four days a weeks after a full day at public school, and I was a regular at Saturday morning services at the synogogue where the Rabbi regularly sermonized.

I had even seen Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, the stern, humorless and powerful New York City-based Catholic, deliver messages in his always somber voice to the faithful on television.

Roberts was different: He stalked the stage; he raised his voice; he had the crowd in the palm of his hands ... and he appeared to indicate that he could heal the sick, mend the wounded, deflict the afflicited.

It seemed to me that all you had to do to grab a piece of the healing was to place your hands on the television set and let the power of Mr. Roberts do the rest.

That was then.

Now, Oral Roberts University, the Tulsa, Oklahoma institution named after the pioneering televangelist, needs some healing of its own. And that's where Mart Green, a young multi-millionaire comes in.    

Bringing in the bucks

Green, 46, recently gave $70 million "of his family's fortune to rescue Oral Roberts University, the evangelical Christian school engulfed in a spending scandal and burdened with tens of millions of dollars in debt," the Associated POress reported on February 5.

Green's donation comes with one very huge caveat. According to AP, "In return for the donation, Green becomes chairman of the university's new board of trustees, and hopes to restore the public's trust in the 5,700-student institution."

Earlier this month, The Tulsa World reported that the University had "revised articles of incorporation and bylaws":

The new documents usher in shared governance -- with defined roles for the board, the president and the faculty -- required by the Green family ....

The revised bylaws give ORU's new governing board the ultimate authority over the college and state that the president serves at the pleasure of the board.

Previously, the president essentially had power over the board ...  

Both Oral Roberts and his son Richard -- who became president of the school in 1993 -- "along with their wives, were ORU's spiritual regents, who had ultimate authority within ORU's old board of regents, according to the old bylaws," The Tulsa World reported.

"They were considered ORU's 'spiritual prophets, seers, pastors, leaders and ministers.' Teachings of the chairman and vice chairman of the spiritual regents 'represent(ed) the teachings' of Jesus as applied to modern times 'and must be followed' by leaders and staff. ORU 'is essentially and fundamentally a religious organization,' the old bylaws stated.

The new articles of incorporation provide a way to change the name and purpose of the university: by a unanimous vote of the full board three years in a row at its annual meeting. ORU's stated purpose, the same as it was described in the 1991 version of ORU's articles of incorporation, includes education of the 'whole person,' including mind, spirit and body.

Green's fortune comes "in part" from Hobby Lobby, the company his father, David, "founded in his living room with a $600 loan and built into a $1.8 billion craft supply giant with nearly 400 stores in the U.S. The money also comes from Mardel, the Christian bookstore and office supply chain that Mart Green started when he was 19."

Sick of scandals

J. Lee Grady, the editor of Charisma magazine is sick of the many scandals that have enveloped evangelical churches/enterprises/institutions around the country. In a column a while back he warned "all ministries to clean up their acts before we have a Christian version of the Enron tragedy."

Grady claimed to be "having flashbacks to 1987," the year that "the ugly PTL scandal -- which added new phrases to our national vocabulary such as `air conditioned dog house' and `gold-plated faucets.'" It was also around the time that the Rev. Jimmy Swaggart's dalliances with prostitutes made national headlines.

"It was déjà vu all over again when one of the country's top Pentecostal colleges was accused of serious ethical and financial wrongdoing,"  Grady wrote in his "Fire in My Bones" column late last year.

"In a lawsuit filed by three professors from Oral Roberts University (ORU), school officials, including its president, Richard Roberts [the son of Oral Roberts], were accused of misusing donor funds and violating IRS tax codes."

A few weeks later, Grady was relieved that Richard Roberts has stepped down as ORU president: "I'm very grateful that Richard Roberts was willing to do that, because it would have been a very ugly situation had he dug in his heels and stayed there," Grady told OneNewsOne, a news service of the American Family Association.

"Because there are too many questions ... too many doubts about his leadership, especially the fact that the school has been in such serious debt for so long." ORU reportedly has a debt load of $50 million dollars.

Green's green  

Green, who "had no connection to the school and hadn't met either Roberts or his father, Oral," is "an evangelical Christian and member of the Assemblies of God." He said that he "decided to step in for the sake of the alumni, faculty and students."

"When Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart had their situations, a lot of people suffered," Green said. "When the Catholic priests had their situation, a lot of people suffered. If ORU goes down it affects all the Christian colleges."

According to the AP, "One of his first tasks will be finding a new president for the university, which is saddled with about $45 million in debt and more than $60 million in deferred maintenance costs."

Green didn't finish college; "he dropped out of now-defunct Tomlinson College in Cleveland, Tenn., to go into business," AP reported. "He is a fast talker who friends say still gets butterflies in his stomach when he speaks in public."

He did not set foot in a movie theater until 2001, when he saw Jim Carrey's 'The Majestic,' about the magic of an old movie theater. He now owns a movie company, which has produced films about missionaries in Ecuador and AIDS in Africa.

"This is a man who has a new dream every Thursday," Rob Hoskins, president and chief executive of Book of Hope International, a Florida-based organization that distributes Scripture around the world, told the AP.

AP also pointed out that "Forbes magazine lists David Green's net worth at $1.8 billion, making him one of the 400 richest Americans. Because of the gift to Oral Roberts University, the Green family ranked 27th out of 50 on the Chronicle of Philanthropy's list of Americans who gave the most in 2007."




Display:
It goes rather further--not only are David and Mark Green "Assemblies men", but their company (Hobby Lobby, one of the largest craft store chains in the US) operates as essentially a funding-front for a number of dominionist causes--among them being the Assemblies' international ministries (including one group targeting Orthodox, Catholic and Maronite Christians for conversion to neopentecostal dominionism) and David Barton's historical-revisionist group Wallbuilders.

Not only that, but it would appear Hobby Lobby is the actual owner of land that Bill Gothard operates a paramilitary training camp for young "God Warriors" resides on (the group, ALERT Teams, also has connections with Air Force intelligence officers as well as police departments via related Gothard front organisations; Gothard has been featured here on Talk to Action in the article "Developing Dominionist Cities" and is a regular feature of articles here by Dean of Cincinnati).

Yes, you're reading that right: Every purchase from Hobby Lobby not only funds a large number of dominionist causes dedicated to "naming and claiming" of the US, but in at least one instance directly supports a group that can be described as a literal neopentecostal dominionist madrassa--complete with guns.

by dogemperor on Thu Feb 07, 2008 at 09:16:57 PM EST


There is an article on Roadrunner (my ISP) that ORU has been laundering up to 1 BILLION dollars a year.   They had an accountant named Trent Huddleston who was fired (supposedly because he could expose the wrongdoing) and who has  filed a lawsuit against the university because of it.

I wouldn't be surprised- and hopefully this will be a nail in the coffin of that diploma mill.

I don't have an URL for the news article- one of the few peeves I have with Roadrunner.  However, it should be easily Googled.

by ArchaeoBob on Fri Feb 08, 2008 at 10:49:20 AM EST



WWW Talk To Action


Four Stories
LGBTQ Nation   In my first bi-weekly column on religious liberty, I discuss how  "Religious liberty is a progressive and liberatory value, over which......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Christian Right Voter Mobilization -- The Season Finale
One of the secrets of the success of the Christian Right over the years has been that opponents have taken the movement with insufficient......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Sins Of Omission: When Religious Right Leaders Speak, The Whole Truth Is Often Left Behind
When an individual doesn't feel like being absolutely truthful, there are a couple of things he or she can do. One is to simply......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Bishop Finn Under Vatican Investigation
Bishop Robert Finn, head of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri has long been a symbol of the ongoing institutional intransigence in addressing......
By Frank Cocozzelli (4 comments)
"The $1-Billion-a-Year [Religious] Right-Wing Conspiracy You Haven't Heard Of"
In honor of the 2014 incarnation of the event known as The Gathering, I've given an interview with Jay Michaelson, writing for the Daily......
By Bruce Wilson (5 comments)
(Un)Fantastic Five: A Remembrance Of Values Voter Summits Past
The Religious Right's annual "Values Voter Summit" (VVS) takes place this weekend. Americans United staffers Simon Brown, Sarah Jones and I will be there.......
By Rob Boston (7 comments)
The Christian Right's Voter Mobilization Strategy for 2014
My latest post at Political Research Associates is about how this weekend's Values Voter Summit fits into the Christian Right's wider electoral strategy for......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
NYT's David Brooks to Speak at Antigay Luncheon of Billionaires Who Fund Racist Preacher
Recently, government-encouraged outbreaks of mob violence against LGBT persons in countries from Uganda to Russia, and draconian new anti-gay legislation in those countries too,......
By Bruce Wilson (2 comments)
D'Souza's Downfall: Religious Right Favorite Sentenced For Campaign Donation Violations
Yesterday conservative commentator Dinesh D'Souza was sentenced to five years of probation and a term of community service for violating federal campaign laws. He......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
Short Takes -- Taking Action Edition
Banned Books Week is being celebrated this year from Sept. 21-27.  Yes its time for the annual celebration of the Freedom to Read, sponsored......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Archbishop Schnurr Throws Cold Water on the Ice Bucket Challenge
The Ice Bucket Challenge has been an outstanding success in raising both awareness and research money needed to find a cure for Amyotrophic lateral......
By Frank Cocozzelli (1 comment)
The Secret Antigay U.S. Money Behind The WCF and the Global Evangelical War on LGBT Rights
[note to readers: this is an excerpt from my first installment in a Twocare.org/Center Against Religious Extremism series that will examine extensive ties -......
By Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Race as Religion
Reading Edith Beer's book, The Nazi Officer's Wife, I ran across an interesting account of her fake marriage license.  She married a Nazi officer......
By wilkyjr (2 comments)
Dark Discussions on the Christian Right
The Neo-Confederate movement has been trying to jump start itself of late.  It has been an especially heady few months for the League of......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Oath Oaf: Religious Right Columnist Calls For Religious Tests In Military
Bryan Fischer, the director of issues analysis for the American Family Association (AFA) is like a demented, right-wing geyser: You can count on him......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)

Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (2 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (3 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Yes, that's right. We have totally lost our religious freedom in Mississippi and it must be restored by our legislators. ......
COinMS (1 comment)
Bill Gothard accused of harassing women and failing to report child abuse
Surprised no one's mentioned this, but one of the longest-standing leaders of the religious right is in a world of trouble.  Bill Gothard has been active in the fundie movement for over half......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
Eugene Delgaudio may lose his day job as Virginia county supervisor
Surprised no one's noticed this, but one of the nation's most virulent homophobes is in a fight to keep his day job.  Eugene Delgaudio is best known as the head of Public Advocate......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents
This caught me by surprise. I guess times are a changin in Dixieland. ------------------------------------- Cross posted from the HRC blog. Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents January 21,......
COinMS (0 comments)
Robert Knight: Running against evolution could potentially be a winner for the GOP
In one of the starkest instances yet of how far gone the religious right is, one of its leading activists thinks that he's found another potential wedge issue that could drive more people into......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
First Catholic official convicted in child sex abuse scandal has conviction overturned
Last year, Monsignor William Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's secretary for clergy, was convicted of reassigning a priest whom he knew had molested a young boy to a parish that had a school attached......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Quotes From Sarah Palin 'War on Christmas" Book v. Quotes From 1920s Anti-Jewish Propaganda
The point of this comparison is not to cast Sarah Palin as a Nazi. Rather, my intent is to underline uncomfortable similarities between contemporary "war on Christmas" talking points propagated by elements of the......
Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Francis sets up commission on how to deal with pedophile priests
Late yesterday Pope Francis announced--apparently after some prodding--that he will set up a panel to advise him on how to deal with child abuse by priests. The announcement was a forthright acknowledgment by the......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
John Hagee: Jews will make deal with Antichrist before End Times
When John Hagee opens his mouth, you expect to hear lunacy.  An appearance earlier this month on TBN was no different.  On Friday, People for the American Way stumbled on a special prophecy-focused edition......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Doug Phillips Resigns From Vision Forum over "Inappropriate Relationship"
Doug Phillips resigned as president of Vision Forum earlier this week, citing an "inappropriate relationship."   Phillips posted an announcement on the Vision Forum website, stating, There has been serious sin in my life......
Rachel Tabachnick (2 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.