The PoliBlog

The Collective
Saturday, October 6, 2007
By Dr. Steven Taylor

The AP has a piece on a brewing scandal at Oral Roberts University (Scandal brewing at Oral Roberts) that looks to threaten the school’s existence and centers around financial shenanigans by Roberts’ son and his family. For example:

Richard Roberts is accused of illegal involvement in a local political campaign and lavish spending at donors’ expense, including numerous home remodeling projects, use of the university jet for his daughter’s senior trip to the Bahamas, and a red Mercedes convertible and a Lexus SUV for his wife, Lindsay.

She is accused of dropping tens of thousands of dollars on clothes, awarding nonacademic scholarships to friends of her children and sending scores of text messages on university-issued cell phones to people described in the lawsuit as “underage males.”

The whole thing has the feel of sultanistic dictators and their families, like the Somozas in Nicaragua or the Duvaliers in Haiti, wherein the leader runs a situation (a university or country) like it is their own personal piggy bank while all the while pretending like they are serving some greater good.

Of course, the fact that Oral Roberts thought it was a good idea to name the university after himself in the first place underscores that perhaps he wasn’t as interested in glorifying God as he claimed. And while one can hand the family business down from father to child, there is something problematic about handing a university over:

Oral Roberts is 89 and lives in California. He holds the title of chancellor, but the university describes him as semi-retired, and his son presides over day-to-day operations on the campus,

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  1. Is Oral Roberts a “real” university? (i.e. is it accredited) I always thought of it as a purely religious endeavor.

    I haven’t paid much attention to it, but I never considered it a serious academic institution–unlike other religiously-affiliated universities (Bringham Young, Notre Dame, Kenyon, etc…)

    Comment by Ratoe — Saturday, October 6, 2007 @ 12:11 pm

  2. [...] Others: The Impolitic, Bark Bark Woof Woof, Corrente, PoliBlog (TM), Pam’s House Blend, The Carpetbagger Report, Wonkette, Unfogged and Brilliant at Breakfast [...]

    Pingback by Chuck Adkins » Oral Roberts Ministries under the scopes… — Saturday, October 6, 2007 @ 12:48 pm

  3. Ratoe,

    I don’t know of its accreditation status, although I will confess that I have never thought it of an especially serious institution, academics-wise.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Saturday, October 6, 2007 @ 2:18 pm

  4. it would appear that the institution is accredited: link.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Saturday, October 6, 2007 @ 2:34 pm

  5. [...] …Blogged about at Major Problems at Oral Roberts University - poliblog ™: a rough draft of my thoughts, [...]

    Pingback by Connecting News, Commentaries and Blogs at - — Sunday, October 7, 2007 @ 10:18 pm

  6. [...] Major Problems at Oral Roberts University in Nicaragua or the Duvaliers in Haiti, wherein the leader runs a situation (a university or country [...]

    Pingback by Haiti » Blog Archives » Haiti 1991 — Monday, October 8, 2007 @ 12:24 am

  7. Accredited or not, all institutions that have a nonprofit status (and thus enjoy certain protections, some at taxpayers’ expense) are obligated to operate within certain legal guidelines, especially when it comes to political activities.

    For now, we should wait until ORU’s board has had a chance to make a thorough investigation. If afterwards the board appears to cover up, rather than clean up, the allegations, then the feds would be obligated by law to step in–and that would be a pity.

    The Body of Christ should be able to keep its financial and administrative houses in order, but all too often church organizations have been neglecting these important duties, to the detriment of the entire body and, regretfully, to the joy of its detractors.

    Comment by Deborah Dessaso — Monday, October 8, 2007 @ 9:04 am

  8. ORU is an accredited university and was at one time, a fine academic institution. However, that was probably more than 25+ years ago. I am a graduate of ORU and there have been plenty of times that I wish I was not an ORU graduate and this is certainly one of them. I was there when President Roberts said that God was “calling him home” if he didn’t raise the millions that God said he needed to raise. I think that he (President Roberts) used that as a means of manipulation and unfortunately, it worked and has worked for many, many years. I think that this gives Christians a “black eye” and I believe that we should, as Christians, be held to a higher standard. I hope that this will clean out some cobwebs and get rid of some junk that has been collecting over the years in Tulsa.

    Comment by Lucy Plyler — Monday, October 8, 2007 @ 2:44 pm

  9. [...] Third, this is yet another example (which leads to the ridicule noted in point one) of a pastor who clearly was not as wholesome as he presented himself to be to his congregation. Yes, this behavior in question is certainly better than visiting a prostitute or engaging in an affair or any number of other actions that clergy have been found guilty of in recent years. Still, this is yet another example of the disjuncture between the power of God to transform man that is preached weekly in Baptist and other evangelical churches and the apparent lack of transformation of the men preaching those messages. I cannot say for sure what Aldridge had preached from his pulpit, but having spent most of my life in Baptist and like churches, I have a pretty good idea. At a minimum, it is no wonder that so many find the Christian faith to be unappealing, as there are so many examples like this. I don’t know what the appropriate fix is, if there is one. Certainly, part of the issue here is the simple fact that human being are imperfect, and remain such regardless of their religious predilections. And, of course, the issue isn’t just sexual. There was the report earlier this week about money and likely corruption at Oral Robert University and probably most church goes have experienced pastors who became overly fond of their positions, letting themselves become the focal point of the church. [...]

    Pingback by PoliBlog ™: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » Case Closed on Death of Local Pastor (With a Rather Bizarre Twist) — Wednesday, October 10, 2007 @ 8:52 am

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