The Black Sheep of Oral Roberts’ Family


Hemant Mehta points out something I didn’t know either, that Oral Roberts has a grandson who is gay and an atheist. And one of Roberts’ sons was gay too. He links to a letter from Randy Potts, the grandson, to his late uncle Ronnie, Oral’s oldest son.

My uncle, Ronald David Roberts, was born in 1945, the oldest son of the late televangelist, Oral Roberts, my grandfather. My Uncle Ronnie, like me, was gay. He wrote in letters, published after his death, that he “came out” in high school, but only to close friends and family, including his father. His father, Oral Roberts, was the first televangelist, and likely the most famous faith-healer since Jesus Christ, with a worldwide audience in the hundreds of millions. He did not want a gay son. Oral’s anti-homosexual rants were so vehement that they can still be found on YouTube, forty years later. In his thirties, six months after getting divorced and coming out, my Uncle Ronnie died, on June 10th, 1982, by a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the heart.

I’m gay too. And my mother, like her father, does not want a gay son. My mother made a point to tell me, only a year ago, at my grandfather’s funeral, in front of 4,000 people, that Hell does exist and I’m going there. My uncle and I were raised in a world dominated by Evangelicals who taught, and still teach, that the fires of Hell await all gay men and women. This is the Evangelical “Christian” legacy for gays like my uncle and me: Threats. Bullying. Damnation. Death.

But for me, and many others, the story doesn’t end here. Five years ago, when I was divorced and came out, I found myself, like my Uncle Ronnie, in Oklahoma, in my thirties, and terrified of losing my children because I was gay. I was regularly called a faggot, both by strangers and by my ex-wife, and, like my uncle before me, reached a point of despair. Suicide among gay men and women in Evangelical communities is still prevalent. Evangelicals may not be killing gays outright—the police report suggests my uncle killed himself. However, while the Evangelical community might not pull the trigger when one of their gay members commits suicide, they provide the ammunition.

Potts has a new book coming out. I suspect it will be a very interesting read.

Comments

  1. John Hinkle says

    I have a friend in Texas who’s gay. He doesn’t even bother attempting to spend time with his family in Ohio anymore during the holidays. And yes, his family are “good Christians.”

    When I listen to Janet Parshall on Moody Bible Radio, it seems like every other show is about someone (or something) to hate. Gay people, muslims, judicial activists, Planned Parenthood, immigrants, poor people, Occupy protestors, young women with unwanted pregnancies, Obama, democrats, political correctness, ad nauseam.

  2. Phillip IV says

    The Black Sheep of Oral Roberts’ Family

    …was Oral Roberts, himself. Sad to read that it didn’t make him stick out much from the rest of his brood, apparently.

    Stories like this are why I like to counter claims of “gay rights issues can’t be compared to racial inequality” with “Yeah, because at least black kids don’t get born into White Suprematist families.”

  3. raven says

    LOL, this happens a lot.

    One of the weirder of the Mormon prophets, was Ezra Taft Benson, an extreme right wing kook.

    Steve Benson on Mormonismwww.lds-mormon.com/benson1.shtmlCached – Similar
    You +1’d this publicly. Undo

    Steve Benson’s story of how he came to disbelieve in Mormonism. … His grandfather, 94-year-old Ezra Taft Benson, is the president and prophet of the Mormon …

    One of his grandsons is an open ex-Mormon and critic of the cult.

    To be sure, it can happen in the opposite direction. But it doesn’t seem to happen as often.

  4. raven says

    When I listen to Janet Parshall on Moody Bible Radio, it seems like every other show is about someone (or something) to hate. Gay people, muslims, judicial activists, Planned Parenthood, immigrants, poor people, Occupy protestors, young women with unwanted pregnancies, Obama, democrats, political correctness, ad nauseam.

    Hate is the basis for fundie xianity.

    No hate = No fundie xianity.

    They are always adding to their hate list but no one ever drops off it. The latest hate target is Planned Parenthood. This is BTW, just a modern day xian traditional pastime. The witch hunt.

    By now it must be the vast majority of humans.

    When they get bored with the usual targets, they hate each other. I suppose when they get really bored, they hate themselves.

  5. Chris from Europe says

    @raven
    In the Komen case, it isn’t limited to Christians. Ari Fleischer has apparently been involved as well.

  6. says

    @Raven. While hate is a big component of conservative Christianity, the bigger component is fear; it’s one of the two foundation stones of their belief. The other is bribery.

  7. says

    I had the pleasure of meeting Randy Potts and his husband at a screening of a new documentary “The Right to Love” which is about a family headed by two legally married gay men. He’s an intelligent guy, and boy is he tall!

    http://youtu.be/RclFT71GmVc

    Full disclosure: My husband wrote the score for this film.

  8. Pierce R. Butler says

    Potts should get down on his knees and thank his Dog he wasn’t named after his grandfather.

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