Monday, October 8, 2007

Oral Roberts Son in Trouble?! Could It Be?!

Many people can remember about 20 years ago when televangelist Oral Roberts created quite a controversy when he took God up on a challenge He issued to him. While reading a novel, claimed Roberts, God appeared to him and told him that he must raise $8 million dollars for his university or, sigh..., be called home to heaven.

Now, here's where things get really weird. Roberts went ahead a raised the money! Am I crazy or what??? If God appeared to me with that offer, I think that I would probably say, "Hey! thanks for the way out of that burden!" and then go lie down on the couch and nap my way to heaven.

But not Roberts. He has a greater work ethic than I, because he went ahead a manipulated people out of their money (wouldn't want to see another believer home with Jesus would we?), and the great bastion of academic excellence, Oral Roberts University, continued.

Well, to quote a famous television character of my childhood, "Sur-prise! Surprise! Surprise!", Oral Roberts University has found itself in a fix again! Apparently his son, Richard Roberts, the president of Oral Roberts University, is facing a lawsuit filed by former professors of his university.

Not to be outdone by his father, Roberts is also claiming that God spoke to him and said, "We live in a litigious society. Anyone can get mad and file a lawsuit against another person whether they have a legitimate case or not. This about intimidation, blackmail and extortion."

Perhaps those concepts are something Roberts is a bit familiar with.

Some of the more bizarre allegations include:

Replacing an employee with an underage male friend of his wife

His wife sending hundreds of text messages (between 1 and 3 am) to "underage males" at the expense of the University

Using the University jet to fly his daughter and friends to Orlando and the Bahamas (a missions trip that cost the ministry over $29,000 and happened to be during spring break)

Using University employees to complete his daughters' homework

The Roberts family has brought in enough money for his wife, a board member of ORU, to spend over $39,000 a year on clothing, and remodel their home (complete with stables -- paid for by the university and ministry) 11 times in the past 14 years.

Now I can see why Oral didn't want to be called home! I mean the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few!!!

What is really amazing here, though, is that this sick materialism and barbaric wielding of power (this lawsuit actually started because Roberts was trying to force some professors to promote a local politician -- allegedly) could continue for as long as it has. How in the world can someone profess to be a follower of a homeless man that claimed to be the son of God and justify such extravagance as "ministry expense"?

But, an even greater question, is "How in the world did this University continue to grow with such leadership?" I mean, how many people who profess Christianity didn't have the sense to see that these people's lives didn't even remotely reflect the teachings of Christ? Have we gotten so far from our understanding of what it is to be a Christian that we can't see something blatantly wrong with a grown woman text messaging multiple teen aged boys through the wee hours of the night? Surely there were people aware! Or weren't there people willing to tell the Roberts family that it's wrong for someone else to do their kids' homework?

How can anyone say they follow Christ and then spend more money on clothing than the average American family earns in yearly income?! Whether or not it's right for a Christian to be wealthy is not the question, but have we become so desensitized to our materialism that such excessive spending doesn't even make us blink? It's not whether or not you have the money that matters to God, but that you remember that the money really still belongs to God!

Oral and Richard Roberts do serve a purpose, though. I think that I can see them as a warning to myself. A warning of what I could easily become if given the chance, and a warning of how easily I can justify my comforts and extravagances. It's easy to judge the Roberts because it's all so outlandish, but the fact of the matter is that even the poorest person reading this blog has more material possessions than 95% of the earth's population. And its really hard to live a life where we don't just fall in love with that comfort.

So, when you think about good old Oral and Richard, you can say two prayers. One for their hearts and one of thanks for the warning that they given.

1 comment:

MarlaQuack said...

Gee Deb, I, um sense a little bit of anger coming out through your last several posts.