Troubles at ORU

Time has an on-line top story featuring the return of Oral Roberts to Tulsa in an attempt to rescue the ministry and university from allegations of impropriety by Richard and Lindsay Roberts. I’ll let others deal with the specific allegations this time. I want to give my account of two separate events at ORU.

I was sitting in the audience during a telethon promoting Oral’s book, How I Learned Jesus Was Not Poor. I arrived early as the set was prepped for the broadcast. A special phone bank section was placed near the spot where Richard would perform his songs. The sofa discussion area was on the other side of the set. A regular phone bank room was off to the side.

A few moments before the show the special phone bank section became manned by operators. They sat idly by until Richard arrived to his spot, the spot lights beamed and the “on air” light showed. Then each of the operators answered his or her phone. They spoke into the phones and wrote on pieces of paper. When the opening song was over and Richard moved to the sofa area, each operator hung up on their imaginary conversation. I was convinced of this when they wadded up the papers and threw them away.

They remained in the dark until it was time for another song. Amazingly all the phones must have started ringing again. They all began conversations that all strangely ended as soon as the lights went back down.

My other experience was witnessing one of Richard’s “miracles.” On this day the crowd was smaller. We were all herded into one section that looked better on TV — all except for one lady that was moved away from the group. This lady was in a wheelchair and had arrived hoping to experience her miracle of healing.

Near the end of the show, Richard came into the audience with microphone because God wanted him to heal someone. Now, he didn’t go in the direction of the one person who obviously needed healing. Instead the account went something like this:

Richard: God is telling me that someone here has a knee problem. Anyone have a knee problem?
(Multiple hands go up and Richard moves toward the woman sitting next to me.)
Richard: Where are you from?
Woman: France
Richard: Paris?
Woman: Yes.
Richard (to audience): See, isn’t it amazing how God tells me these things.
Richard (to Woman): Bend down
(Woman bends down and back up)
Richard: How does your knee feel now?
Woman: Fine…
Richard (to audience): It’s a miracle.
Woman (still finishing her sentence that Richard did not hear because he was proclaiming the miracle): Fine since I had surgery five years ago.

So, count me as a skeptic that Richard has been running the ship above board.