The allegations against the family of Oral Roberts are building, including breathtaking accounts of lavish spending at the very time that Oral Roberts was begging twenty years ago for donations or he would be “called home” by God. The university had to close its law school and postpone a building campaign. It is alleged to be tens of millions in debt and falling apart. In addition, professors have alleged the following examples of excess:
– A longtime maintenance employee was fired so that an underage male friend of Mrs. Roberts could have his position.- Mrs. Roberts – who is a member of the board of regents and is referred to as ORU’s “first lady” on the university’s Web site – frequently had cell-phone bills of more than $800 per month, with hundreds of text messages sent between 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. to “underage males who had been provided phones at university expense.”- The university jet was used to take one daughter and several friends on a senior trip to Orlando, Fla., and the Bahamas. The $29,411 trip was billed to the ministry as an “evangelistic function of the president.”- Mrs. Roberts spent more than $39,000 at one Chico’s clothing store alone in less than a year, and had other accounts in Texas and California. She also repeatedly said, “As long as I wear it once on TV, we can charge it off.” The document cites inconsistencies in clothing purchases and actual usage on TV.- Mrs. Roberts was given a white Lexus SUV and a red Mercedes convertible by ministry donors.- University and ministry employees are regularly summoned to the Roberts’ home to do the daughters’ homework.- The university and ministry maintain a stable of horses for exclusive use by the Roberts’ children.- The Roberts’ home has been remodeled 11 times in the past 14 years.
It would be surprising to see the school survive at this point. Indeed, these allegations make the entire enterprise look like a cash machine for the family. The first wife of Richard described this culture in her recent book:
In her 1983 memoir, “Ashes to Gold,” Richard Roberts’ first wife, Patti, documented the jet-set lifestyle: a blue Mercedes as a Christmas gift for Richard, a Jaguar for her, Italian suits and Palm Beach vacations.“We lived like characters in a novel or a made-for-TV movie about the beautiful people and I reveled in it,” she wrote. “Having made a truce, albeit an uneasy one, with my conscience over the source of our wealth, I proceeded to enjoy its prerogatives with total abandon.”
Years ago, I wrote a study entitled “Laying Hands on Religous Racketeers” to address such conduct. Often such racketeers hide behind religious organizations to use the protection of the first amendment. I may need to update the study with an entire chapter on the Roberts.For the full story, click here