This may sound a bit harsh, but I never claimed to be John Donne -- any man’s death does not necessarily diminish me.
Among the nation’s earliest Televangelists, Oral made a name for himself attracting an enormous following. Although a few years too late to be the inspiration for the ne’er-do-well false prophet evangelical minister in Sinclair Lewis’ Elmer Gantry, he well could have been.
Oral’s claim to fame is epic:
- In the ‘30’s he was a traveling tent healer, who shouted abuse at the ill and crippled when they failed to respond to his healing touch.
- In 1977 Roberts claimed to have had a vision from a 900-foot-tall Jesus who told him to build the City of Faith Medical and Reseacrh Center (a faith and medicine hybrid concept) and that the hospital would be a success. Built in 1980; it closed its doors in 1989. Giant Jesus lied.
- In January 1987, during a fundraising drive, Roberts announced to a television audience that unless he raised $8 million by that March, God would "call him home"… i.e. “Gimme money or you’re going to kill me.” He sucked $9.1 million out of his fearful sheep.
- Oral announced that through the Roberts ministry god had raised the dead. His son Richard claimed to have witnessed his father bringing a dead child back to life. The kid was never named.
- He was forced to resign from the presidency of Oral Roberts University due to some funky business about the use of university funds for personal and political purposes.
[ Read all about his illustrious career here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oral_Roberts ]
He was a pioneer of sorts, paving the way for the legions of despicable, bombastic, fanatical religious shaman -- con men, hypocrites and buffoons all. Men who have made it their life’s work to heap more ignorance upon the ignorant, fleece the gullible, make promises they could never keep, sell the snake oil of belief and earn millions doing it.
Perhaps hundreds of thousands of pious lemmings will mourn Roberts' passing. But not I. That’s not to say I wouldn’t want to honor him. Given the opportunity I would gladly pour a bottle of 18 year old Glenfiddich scotch over his grave ... as long as he doesn’t mind if it passes through my bladder first.