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 Oral Roberts

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Oral Roberts

Television Evangelist and founder of Oral Roberts University. He is remembered by his critics for his prosperous lifestyle and unusual fund-raising methods. While other televangelists would have sex scandals and illegal money activities during their careers, Oral Roberts was noted for living an honest and moral life, free of any scandals, although not without controversy. Born Granville Oral Roberts, he was the fifth and last child of the Reverend Ellis Melvin Roberts and his wife, the former Claudia Priscilla Irwin. His family was always poor, and after finishing high school in Oklahoma, Roberts attended Phillips University for two years. In 1938, he married Evelyn Lutman Fahnestock, the daughter of a preacher. They would have four children: Rebecca, Ronald, Richard and Roberta. After leaving college, Roberts would become a traveling faith healer, erecting a large tent and seating up to 3,000 listeners on folding chairs. After reading in the Bible, 3 John 1- 2, he decided that God allowed him to be rich, and after prayer, he believed God told him to go out and heal the sick. He established the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association (OREA), and would then travel across the United States and later around the world, conducting faith healing meetings and conventions. In 1954, he began to broadcast his revivals on the new medium of television, and over the years, attracted a large viewership. His program, "The Place for Miracles" is still seen on television. By the 1980s, he was the leader of an organization employing 2300 people and earning $120 million annually. In 1963, he founded Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in which he required his students to sign an honor code, pledging not to smoke, drink or engage in premarital sex. When he was described as a faith healer, he would disclaim the title, saying, "God heals, I don't." From 1968 to 1987, he was a member of the United Methodist Church's ministry. In 1977, he had a vision from Jesus Christ, who commanded him to construct the City of Faith and Medical Research Center, which opened in 1981. At the time, it was controversial as it combined prayer and medicine both into the healing process for treatment of medical illness. Roberts is most remembered for his controversial fund raising methods. In January 1987, he announced that unless he raised $8 million in two months, God would "call him home." In the two months, he was able to raise $9.1 million. As a result of his controversial fund raising methods, his success, and his prosperous life style, he was often ridiculed by others who did not share his faith, or who believed him to be hypocritical for not living a poor life. During the 1980s and 1990s, his organizations were being affected by scandals involving other televangelists, and in 1989, the City of Faith Hospital was forced to close down after losing money, and Roberts was forced to sell his vacation homes in Palm Springs and Beverly Hills. In 2007, a Congressional investigation looking into allegations of improper use of funds for political and personal purposes found that there was no malfeasance while Roberts was in charge. Roberts went into semi-retirement and was living in Newport Beach, California, when he died at the age of 91 from pneumonia.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Don Merrill
  • Added: 15 Dec 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 45468872
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Oral Roberts (24 Jan 1918–15 Dec 2009), Find A Grave Memorial no. 45468872, citing Memorial Park Cemetery, Tulsa, Tulsa County, Oklahoma, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .