Scratch a rich Christian, watch them ooze corruption

Hoo boy. It’s scandal time in Evangelica again. Richard Roberts, son of the infamous Oral, and his wife Lindsay, seem to have been skimming the cream off their university budget (and in her case, perhaps, off young male students).

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.”

Roberts’ defense? God is now giving him legal advice.

In his weekly chapel address today, Mr. Roberts said God had spoken to him this morning and advised him to respond to the lawsuit. “Here’s what he told me to say to you,” Mr. Roberts told the students and professors gathered at the service, according to the Associated Press. “‘We live in a litigious society. Anyone can get mad and file a lawsuit against another person whether they have a legitimate case or not.’

‘This lawsuit … is not about wrongful termination,’” Mr. Roberts said God added. “‘It is about intimidation, blackmail, and extortion,’” he said, according to the wire service.

I don’t know, I’m a little disappointed. The Great Lord of All the Universe has been awfully quiet for a long, long time, and now he breaks his silence to tell the world that there is an excess of lawsuits, and defend a sybaritic pair of spoiled, overprivileged con artists? Doesn’t he have more important things to do? How come he never gives us any useful insights?


  1. skyotter says

    that “defense” isn’t going to help when criminal charges get filed

    (not that it’ll help with the civil charges either, but hey)

  2. says

    What’s amazing about this is that somewhere there is someone reading those words and nodding in agreement, both in awe of Roberts powerful relationship with god, and the words of common sense comisceration with which god provides wisdom.

    In the end, I personally am just really disapointed with god’s response. You’d think that if god really cared, he’d hook Roberts with the most bad-ass lawyer available. One that god himself chose to represent Roberts for this situation before the man was even conceived. I mean, when I’m down and out and manage to score a personal audience with the divine creator of life, the universe, and everything, I mean geeze, I hope we can have a more edifying conversation.

  3. truth machine says

    God had spoken to him this morning and advised him to respond to the lawsuit. “Here’s what he told me to say to you,” Mr. Roberts told the students and professors gathered at the service, according to the Associated Press. “‘We live in a litigious society.

    God’s an American?

  4. Inky says

    Of course God’s an American!
    Why, what’d you think? God’s an Iraqi? Or Afghani? No, no, no. Apple pie eating beer swilling football watching All-American star-spangled God Almighty.

  5. MJ Memphis says

    “God’s an American?”

    Of course, didn’t you know? He lives a few miles outside Amarillo, which is why Texans refer to their state as “God’s country.”

  6. Sastra says

    In the end, I personally am just really disapointed with god’s response. You’d think that if god really cared, he’d hook Roberts with the most bad-ass lawyer available.

    Oh, come on. God’s up in heaven. Where is He going to find a lawyer? (/old joke)

  7. Rey Fox says

    That reminds me, I gotta go to the Torch Lounge. I think Evangelica is dancing tonight.

    “God’s an American?”

    Of course. Just ask David Bowie.

  8. Rey Fox says

    GMTA! Yeah.

    “He lives a few miles outside Amarillo, which is why Texans refer to their state as “God’s country.”

    I hear he levitated a bunch of classic Cadillacs to his ranch and plunged them into the soil front-first. He’s a whimsical deity, for sure.

  9. says

    Make fun of the Roberts dynasty all you like, heathen swine. You will never put a scratch on their matchless contribution to world culture: serving as the inspiration for MC 900 Ft. Jesus’s stage name.

  10. Lago says

    Anyone ever seen that New Radio episode where the boss kept placing candy in the draw of Andy Dick’s character’s desk?

    Dick’s character would then sit down at his desk and search his draws, and sneak the candy in his mouth hoping no ones sees his good fortune gobbling it all up as fast as he could.

    Dave asks the boss, “Doesn’t he question where the candy comes from?” to which the boss responds something like, “I think in his world, things like candy elves are real and not to be questioned”

    I think many Christians preachers think much same..

  11. Pete says

    You’re missing the nuance of this sophisticated theologian.

    I propose that Roberts is “kenotically” infused (not by divine loss or withdrawal, but by effusive pouring out) into this lawsuit.

  12. Physicalist says

    What? Your universities don’t have jets for you to use? Where the heck do you teach anyhow? (I mean, Morris I can see, but . . . )

  13. says

    Did Richard Roberts describe the Jesus who supposedly gave him legal advice? We’re dying to know if it was the same Jesus who threatened his Dad with death if Oral did not promptly shake down his flock for $8 million dollars. I’ll bet Jesus the Extortionist knows his way around the law pretty well! He probably charges an unholy retainer, though.

  14. Jake says

    ‘We live in a litigious society. Anyone can get mad and file a lawsuit against another person whether they have a legitimate case or not.’

    Yeah, that’s not exactly the Book of Ezekiel there, as occult-wisdom-from-heaven goes.

    I could totally see Amos saying something like that if he were around today, though. He was big on bitching about society’s decadence.

  15. the Rev Jerry Gloryhole says

    Of course ORU has a jet. How else can they keep tabs on the diamond mines?

  16. JRM says

    “We live in a litigious society. Anyone can get mad and file a lawsuit against another person whether they have a legitimate case or not.”

    Jesus probably whispered that in your ear, too, in the Pivar lawsit.

    But you weren’t listening, you darn atheist!

  17. raven says

    This is why theocracies got a bad name. They founder on two factors.

    1. They go corrupt in a hurry. It is estimated that 50% of Iran’s oil revenue is skimmed by the leader/Mullahs. Since they can have families, they can found oil dynasties. The Iranian people know it and aren’t too happy.

    2. The various blocs and sects fight over who gets to loot the treasury. In places like Iraq, this can get very bloody.

    As several have already pointed out. Even if Richard Roberts was found in the stall next to Larry Craig in the Minneapolis airport with Ted Haggard, while they were dividing up some membership tithing loot and pretending to be “not gay”, it wouldn’t matter. People dumb enough and mentally twisted enough to believe these guys in the first place are not the type to figure anything out, no matter how obvious it is.

  18. Dahan says

    Makes me wonder why god didn’t talk to him before hand and say something like “Hey! Don’t do all that illegal stuff your thinking of doing. Instead, go take care of the poor AIDS patients in South Africa!” Oh wait, I know why he didn’t…CAUSE HE DOESN’T EXIST…Christ…or whatever..

  19. JohnnieCanuck, FCD says

    Come on, it’s just that Richard Roberts is so tight with Jesus that they share the same executive jet.

  20. raven says

    Don’t y’all jump to conclusions about those underage boys. A bit of an odd hobby for a grown woman but not unheard of. They might have been for Richard. Or maybe they swapped them back and forth.

  21. savagemickey says

    I like the quote from the senior who says the scandal may hurt the value of his degree from ORU. Once the Republicans lose complete control of Washington next year, I don’t think a degree from ORU will be worth anything. And what is he studying…Government.

  22. Keanus says

    PZ, how can you state, even rhetorically, ” It’s scandal time in Evangelica again.” It’s always scandal time in Evangelica! It’s just a question of which preacher will ascend the dock the next time.

  23. Larry says

    Cue Nelson Muntz: Hah, hah!

    On a more serious note, might I ask those who give money to this man, “What the flying f*** are you doing?”

  24. Peter M says

    As a social philosopher, JC had some good ideas. From Luke Chapter 11, Verse 46:

    And he [Jesus] said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.

    I think he could have said the same thing about preachers.

  25. inkadu says

    Have the loonies gone from comic sans to impact font?

    And yeah, WTF? How can you say such a thing as a corrupt use of a university jet? The whole idea of a university jet is in itself corrupt. Evangleical institutions are so corrupt its only news when when they are obviously, blatantly, willfully and extravagantly corrupt.

  26. djlactin says

    Hey, I gots this great idear! Y’know, that Nigerian scam, the one where they say give me $100000 and I’ll give you a million? Well how ’bout this: we say Give me 10% of all your money for the rest of your life, and some imaginary deity will reward you after you’re dead!

    naaah. nobuddy fall fer that…

  27. Hank Fox says

    University and ministry employees are regularly summoned to the Roberts’ home TO DO THE DAUGHTERS’ HOMEWORK.

    Emphasis mine.

    Jeez, it’s like the Roberts clan sees ORU as the family plantation.

    And ha-ha, here’s how one of the students responded to the growing tempest:

    Cornell Cross II, a senior from Burlington, Vt., said he is looking to transfer to another school because the scandal has “severely devalued and hurt the reputation of my degree.”

    Yep, them ORU degrees were so highly regarded before.

  28. John C. Randolph says

    Hey, what happened to that ten mil that Oral got by saying his imaginary friend had a gun to his head?


  29. noncarborundum says

    God’s an American?

    Of course he is. We have it on the authority of David Bowie himself.

    … who should know.

  30. John C. Randolph says

    “The whole idea of a university jet is in itself corrupt”

    I beg to differ.

    I have no issue at all with university having a jet. Letting a preacher’s daughter use it for vacation trips is another matter, however.


  31. jrochest says

    The PDF of the charges has been posted on Metafilter: it’s here and makes interesting reading. It’s being brought by three faculty members who were — they claim — forced into political chicanery by Roberts and the administration. Only after they were harrassed out of their jobs were they ‘given’ a blackmail file with substantiated records of the family’s crimes, embezzlements and misbehaviour. These are all listed in the document; they aren’t proven, of course, and may all be lies, but there’s paper trails behind many of them.

    That said, though — two things. First, the academic culture of this so-called university is uniquely poisonous. There are departments at my university which cannot have public meetings, since the members hate each other so much, but I don’t think anyone goes to the extent of keeping elaborate lists and records for the purpose of blackmail.

    Second, this has to be the all-time worst TT teaching gig. The teaching staff DID THE ROBERTS’ DAUGHTERS HOMEWORK FOR THEM, which is not only plagiarism but a special, 9th-circle-of Dante’s-Hell level of academic humiliation; they were called in the midde of the night by the president’s wife who demanded that they do scutwork (put a special message for one of the daughters on the school’s electronic message board); they watched as money and equipment were siphoned off to non-academic purposes, aka the jet and the golf carts the ‘girls’ seem to have repeatedly wrecked or stolen; they must have known about Mrs R’s ‘special friendships’ with male undergrads; and their classes were peppered with special ‘scholarship students’ — friends of the daughters whose grades were too low for admission to another University, but who were admitted, free of charge, on Mrs. Roberts’ orders. The bag-carrying and bootlicking component of the job outweighed the academic component two to one. Six months at a place like that would collapse your love of your subject and your sense of self-worth into a small but dense black hole.

    Why did anybody stay? Yes, the job market sucks, and has for years, but I’ve had friends leave much better places for much less cause (being told to ignore cheating, pass a failing student with connections, etc). Is it really possible to find an entire campus full of mindless zombie robots (including adjucts?) or were they all on the take?

  32. jrochest says

    Hank Fox had exactly the same ALL CAPS response to the ‘homework’ bit as I did.

    Great minds think alike. I shouldn’t have taken so long writing the danged post :)

  33. Alverant says

    If he’s getting legal advice from God and he’s convicted, what happens? Did God fail? Can he claim insufficient council or whatever they call it when your lawyer is incompetent?

    I can see a university having a jet. You know for recruiting athletes, but treating your company’s toys as your own is just wrong.

  34. Jsn says

    Back in the ’80s, my girlfriend posted the Oral Roberts Deathwatch on her answering machine, with daily updates on whether god had called Oral home for not raising $4 mil. Who new the Xian deity was an extortionist? Ironically, she worked for the theological library at SMU.
    Perhaps the Roberts will be calling the Federal Pen. home soon enough.

  35. Brad says

    The whole Oral/Richard Roberts phenomenon embarrasses me as a former Tulsan. Richard Roberts has “an hour of healing” on TV. Once he was in a sling and my wife made the comment, “Can’t he just heal himself?” The whole thing sickens me. As if Oklahoma needed any more reason to be looked down upon.

  36. Rey Fox says

    “Don’t y’all jump to conclusions about those underage boys. ”

    Yeah, she could just be an attention whore.

    Sheesh, what’s worse? Having romantic dalliances with students or stringing them along?

  37. Ian H Spedding FCD says

    You know, there is a certain amount of pleasure to be had from watching the Religious Right crumble bit-by-bit as the corruption and hypocrisy eats away at its foundations.

  38. JohnnieCanuck, FCD says

    So the reason some people pay tuition to go to this place is because it puts you on an inside track to get a patronage job with the Republicans?

    Sounds like the first thing you have to do is sell your soul to the devil on earth and then it’s all downhill.

  39. Colin says

    You know what would be funny as hell? If someone stood up in the court room or wherever he blurted out this bullshit and yelled, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and render unto God what is God’s!” It just would seem funny as hell to see something like that. How would Roberts respond to that? It’s from their Bible, so he can’t deny it. It’d be like a slap in the face.

    I’d laugh.

  40. N.Wells says

    First, those underage males got a heck of an education. Second, of course Roberts & his wife deserve an airplane – how else are they going to get closer to God? Ten thousand feet does wonders in lifting their prayers above those of the common horde. Third, they’re Republicans, and they’re doing God’s work, so it’s like rules don’t count, squared.

  41. Moopheus says

    Did God pass the Bar? What sort of rates does he charge? Or does he preface his comments with, “IANAL, but…”

  42. MCullen says

    Of course God is American how else could the religious right condon being at war in Iraq? We are the chosen ones all right.

  43. arachnophilia says

    Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

  44. says

    Can’t say that I am surprised by any of this. Every other week we see another story about some fire and brimstone promulgator and their indiscretions.

  45. Tulse says

    I used to think the Elmer Gantry trope of all evangelists being hypocrites was just defensiveness on the part of the irreligious, and that surely some prominent religious leaders must honestly believe what they preach. I am increasingly unsure of that, however.

  46. says

    Of course ORU needs a jet – how do you expect the Roberts’ to stay out of the clutches of the 900-ft Jesus? I can just imagine the poor robed undead Judean hopping around the Tomorrowland architecture of ORU trying to catch the thing like a better-groomed King Kong while onboard a half-clad Prada-wearing Lindsay Roberts and her brats are fed peeled grapes by buff oiled flight stewards.

  47. Janine says

    Make fun of the Roberts dynasty all you like, heathen swine. You will never put a scratch on their matchless contribution to world culture: serving as the inspiration for MC 900 Ft. Jesus’s stage name.

    Posted by: Mrs Tilton | October 5, 2007 7:43 PM

    I forgot how great ‘Hell With The Lid Off’ is. Thank you Mrs Tildon.

    Within the last month, someone posted the video ‘Truth Is Out Of Style’ on You Tube.

    It is dancable, has a good beat and has a message I can get down with. I give it a 9.5.

  48. klien4g says

    So, Roberts and his ilk are absolutely convinced of the non-existence of a Christian God, heaven and hell.

  49. Graculus says

    Where is He going to find a lawyer? (/old joke)

    He’s got *one* (/another old joke)

    a half-clad Prada-wearing Lindsay Roberts and her brats are fed peeled grapes by buff oiled flight stewards.

    That’s 4 levels of wrong right there. So much for breakfast…

  50. says

    I think we are in trouble if even God thinks that the major problem with America is that we have civil courts system designed to hold people accountable for their behavior.

    Will he be telling Richard next to crusade for liability limits?

    Every time I read of one of these corrupt evangelists siphon the money intended to carry out the mission of the church, I think of two main flaws with christianity (notwithstanding the whole idea of god being real as the major flaw:)

    1. It is a cash cow. Society is so deeply conditioned to believe that there is a god, and he needs money, that they will toss off a check to anybody that claims they are doing his mission. Robert Tilton is my main source of amusement/amazement here. I also remember visiting the Cathedral of our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City when I was a kid. The walls behind the altar were inlaid with gold, while many of the communicants on the day I visited were handicapped. The man who stands out most in my mind was legless, rolling on a little wheeled board towards the altar. I was still Catholic at the time, but growing increasingly unhappy with my church and its hypocrisy.

    2. The scumbags like Roberts are taking advantage of the “saved” card. We will be judged by our faith and not by our works, so we can really do all that we want while we are here. And when I hear them pray on TV, I think of Jesus scourging the temple and then admonishing the hypocrites to pray in private.

    Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

    14. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, &c.–Taking advantage of the helpless condition and confiding character of “widows,” they contrived to obtain possession of their property, while by their “long prayers” they made them believe they were raised far above “filthy lucre.” So much “the greater damnation” awaits them. What a lifelike description of the Romish clergy, the true successors of those scribes!

    (And of course, we have the problem of discerning the One True Christianity, don’t we?)

  51. says

    Not only is the Roberts clan in trouble, but god is apparently begging to be prosecuted for the unauthorized practice of law.

    Though, if like most states, there is a morality component to the ability to sit for the bar in Robert’s state, it makes sense god would not bother to apply. I mean, geeze, the guy is an admitted mass murderer.

  52. says

    I don’t get it. If God is speaking directly to him, and wants him to be rich, fat, and lazy, why didn’t God just give him a bunch of hot stock picks? That way he wouldn’t have to “shear the flock.”

    Oh, or maybe God is doing this to teach the flock a lesson about what it feels like to be stupid sheep. God sure moves in some strange ways! Strange, contradictory, and cruel ways, really.

  53. says

    Hey PZ –

    Do you get to use the University Jet? I can just picture you blogging away, seated comfortably in the Coach(tm) leather seats, with one of those disgusting “weenies on toothpicks” plates, while a cephalopodic stewardess massages your feet and pours champagne for you. Academia is pretty rough, isn’t it. Or is God frowning on you and making you take the Greyhound?

  54. says

    I grew up in Tulsa in the 1970’s. One time in high school our science club made a field trip to ORU (I don’t recall why, exactly, because Oral Roberts and science have absolutely no connection), and my best friend and I joked about how the campus looked like the set of a bad science fiction movie. Funny how Oral’s attempt to make his christian college campus fit into the Space Age Zeitgeist of the 1960’s now has turned into an example of the Paleo-Future

  55. Paul Ojanen says

    Lindsay has a show segment about overcoming stress. I wonder if that advice involves doing young men?

  56. Denny says

    Mark #66,

    I grew up in Tulsa too and went to Washington HS where Oral’s other son, Ron, was a teacher. I never had him for a class, but as I understood at the time he was absolutely the opposite of Oral and Richard. Ron tragically committed suicide some years later – I don’t know any details but I’m sure that having Oral and Richard as relatives didn’t help matters. I remember the 900 ft. Jesus episode as I was at OU when that occurred, and sadly, yes, I do know people who believe that Oral was telling the truth and not because hallucinogenic drugs were involved.

    The 900 ft. Jesus was the start of Oral’s attempt to create his “City of Faith” hospital – complete with rooms on each floor for someone who was supposed to pray for the patients. Three buildings and a total of 120 floors as I recall. The whole enterprise only lasted 10 years and also was part of his now famous send me $8 million or god’s gonna call me home scam. Now all three buildings are leased out for office space or the like.

  57. Ex Patriot says

    It makes my day to hear of the troubles this scum bag has brought on himself with help of mama of course.Im lived in Oklahoma when his whole city of faith scam was going and of course when the 8mm scam took place. I hope he loses his hair hirt and the brats have to actually work for a living

  58. says

    I find it funny that Richard Roberts’ Christian wife is a total slut. Mind you, it’s only funny because it’s ironic, not because it’s wrong — I suspect he’s a cuckold fetishist.

    And a corrupt bastard, but he’s his father’s son, so hey, whatever.

  59. chaz says

    Anyone can get mad and file a lawsuit against another person whether they have a legitimate case or not

    O Lord, Creator of Pronoun Agreement, what is the meaning of Your grammatical…peculiarity…You have sent through this humble servant?

  60. MS says

    Richard and Lindsay’s TV show is on late nights where I live. As I have occasional bouts of insomnia I am sometimes up late and run across it while channel-surfing.

    I really try not to read too much into anyone’s appearance, but Richard seems to have had about 8 facelifts and Lindsay looks seriously, deeply stoned most of the time (actually lots of televangelists’ wives have the same look). Also, while my gaydar is far from 100% accurate, it rings loud and clear whenever he’s talking or, especially, singing. Despite their material wealth, they really don’t seem at all happy. They’re certainly not at ease with themselves.

    It can’t be easy to be Oral Robert’s son and daughter-in-law; I can see how it could stimulate a lot of self-loathing and self-destructive behavior (not that I’m excusing it, mind you).

  61. says

    It’s a good thing they’re not atheists.

    ‘Cuz then they’d have no morality or decency, and would just act as if they just could do whatever they wanted.

  62. says

    Call me cynical, but I notice an absence of comment from the Oklahoma attorney general, and right now I’m wondering: How much did Richard Roberts contribute to the guy’s campaign fund, and how many times has he gotten a ride in the Oral Roberts U jet?

    If Jack Anderson and Bill O’Reilly were alive today, you’d bet we’d be gettin’ some answers.

  63. Coragyps says

    It’s rather astounding that they’re asking for only $10,000. People sue for a couple of orders of magnitude more over comparativly trivial crap.

    Hmm. That adds credibility to the plaintiffs’ case. And a jury of Tulsans may see it that way, too.

  64. raven says

    Despite their material wealth, they really don’t seem at all happy. They’re certainly not at ease with themselves.

    I can see why. They have to pretend to believe all sorts of very weird stuff because that is how they got rich. IIRC, the Roberts are faith healers. So what happens if they get sick or in an accident? Can they go to real doctors?

    Rather than pretending to be good Xians, they probably really want to dive into a big bowl of Columbian flake cocaine, wash it down with a good Pinot noire, and invite a few teen-somethings over for rock and roll and whatever comes up.

    OTOH, for all I know, that might be an average weekday night for them.

  65. Ugly American says

    Apologists are always asking what about ‘ The Good Christians ‘ – even though all the major organizations have been caught stealing and covering up for child rapists and murderers – somehow, we’re supposed to believe that there are good people who voluntarily remain members of these clearly evil organizations.

    I’m sorry, if you remain a member of an evil organization you are by definition, evil.

  66. H. W. McDaniel says

    I envision a group of savages long ago looking out of the cave mouth at a lightning-struck tree and one thinking “I can make a good living out of this!”.

    And mankind has been plagued by these parasites ever since.

    A Christian without a bible is a serial killer without a chainsaw.

  67. marquer says

    It is a cash cow. Society is so deeply conditioned to believe that there is a god, and he needs money, that they will toss off a check to anybody that claims they are doing his mission.

    Apropos of the omnipotent Deity’s constantly being on the shorts for ready cash, no one has summed it up better than Carlin:

    In the Bullshit Department, a businessman can’t hold a candle to a clergyman. ‘Cause I gotta tell you the truth, folks. When it comes to bullshit, big-time, major league bullshit, you have to stand in awe of the all-time champion of false promises and exaggerated claims, religion. No contest. No contest. Religion. Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told.

    Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time!

    But He loves you!

    He loves you, and, He needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, you talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Shit!

  68. Brenda says

    I grew up in Oklahoma and watched Oral Roberts on tv when he was holding his meetings in tents. This scandal sounds familiar. Back in the 70’s a book was written titled GIVE ME THAT OLD TIME RELIGION. It uncovered a lot of dirt on Oral Roberts and ORU. I believe the writer of the book was beaten up in a parking lot in Tulsa because “some peole”, gee, I wonder who?, didn’t want the book published. So I’m not really surprised another scandal has surfaced around this family business. The truth always comes out….