One of the first of an unfortunate breed, the health-and-wealth televangelists, has died, according to the AP:
Evangelist Oral Roberts, who rose from tent revivals to found a multimillion-dollar organization and an Oklahoma university bearing his name, has died. He was 91.
His spokesman A. Larry Ross said by phone from Carrollton, Texas, that Roberts died Tuesday of complications from pneumonia in Newport Beach, Calif. Roberts was hospitalized after a fall on Saturday. He had survived two heart attacks in the 1990s and a broken hip in 2006.
Roberts overcame tuberculosis at age 17, and credited that triumph with leading him to become one of the country’s most famous ministers.
By the 1960s and ’70s, the Oklahoma-born Roberts was reaching millions around the world through broadcasting, publications and personal appearances. Oral Roberts University, chartered in 1963, became a Tulsa landmark.
While I thank God for those whom came to Christ through his ministry, to the extent that he fostered the prosperity “gospel,” Roberts was a baneful influence on Pentecostalism and beyond. To the extent that he engaged in stunts such as his “revelation” that he would be “called home” by God if he didn’t raise $8 million back in the late 1980s, he brought the faith into disrepute. Lord, have mercy.