The lovely young bank clerk noted my Baylor University cap and told me she graduated from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa. I told her the old joke about all exams at ORU are not written, they are all oral. She tried to smile, as she had heard that old joke hundreds of times. I asked if she ever met Oral Roberts. She said no, but she understood he was there somewhere.
I wanted to tell her about the time I met Oral. When we were introduced he shook my right hand with vigor. For years I like to tell folks about the encounter and how my right hand never felt the pain of arthritis. I guess Oral’s healing hand has worn off, as all my bones have arthritic tendencies now.
Now Bro. Roberts and his son and their ethics or lack of same are back in the news. Most televangelists keep their ministries in the family. School founder and president Oral Roberts named his son Richard Roberts as heir to his million-dollar empire of evangelism and healing.
Last year (May 3, 2006) the Internal Revenue found ORU, a nonprofit school, to be into politics and political fund-raising in a non-kosher way. Now, son Richard is in trouble.
The IRS maintains that all nonprofit organizations are “absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in any political campaign on behalf (or against) candidates for elective public office.” That could not be clearer and to this day I do not know how the Hagees (see below), Rick Scarborough (a student at Houston Baptist University when I taught there) and Rod Parsley (the one who meets with Texas governor to help promote Republican candidates) keep breaking the law. The sordid way they treat the Scriptures and their calling is worst than breaking tax codes.
Three former ORU professors were fired for being good whistle-blowers. Besides political bias campaigning, one watchdog alleged Richard Roberts had some of his students work on a local mayoral candidate campaign.
President Richard Roberts, like the White House president, declined to release any details or documents on the citations. Without both sides of the story is difficult to find the truth. The truth is usually in the best interest of a Christian university (or anybody).
Richard Roberts’ present wife has misused funds according to Don Wilkey of Onalaska, Texas (EthicsDaily.com). She has two of the most expensive cars made and lots of other perks few college president’s wives have. Back when Patty, Richard’s first wife, exposed the extravagant life style of the Roberts family, she was ignored. The money continued to come in. As it does still.
One of the Four Freedoms is the freedom to throw our money any which-a-way.
San Antonio evangelist John Hagee has been suggested as the man to investigate the ORU scandal. This is the same “preacher” Hagee who tells us Russia and Iran will invade Israel and it will be the beginning of the end. Hagee wants USA to bomb and invade Iran to forestall doomsday. That way he and Hal Lindsey (“Late Great Planet” author) can write some more books to scare their followers.
To end on a positive note (surprise!) remember Matthew’s recording of what Jesus said (Matthew 7:15): “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inward they are ravening wolves.” On the cross Jesus prayed for all of us sinners with these words: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
Britt Towery is a former missionary, freelance writer and published author. He welcomes reader feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.