I was raised not to speak ill of the dead but I’ve always been convinced that there is a loophole for mockery. I hereby exercise that loophole.Oral Roberts died yesterday at the age of 91. He was an important albeit unfortunate person in American history: the first full-tilt televangelist. Roberts brought old timey, tent show revival Pentecostal bible banging into the modern era. I wish he’d left it back in the days of outhouses and spittoons where it belongs.
Roberts was not as overtly political as the next wave of televangelists such as Robertson, Swaggart and Falwell BUT he created the template for their electronic ministries. Thanks, Oral. His influence in Oklahoma andNorth Texas was very strong indeed; just look at the Senators from Oklahoma: Inhofe and Coburn are two of loopiest pols that have fallen out of the wingnut tree in recent years.
Roberts was notorious for his shameless begging and flim flammery: most memorably the time in 1987 when he said he’d go home to Jeeezus if he didn’t raise enough money for his heavily indebted medical school. It was another scam that he claimed worked; not unlike his faith healing. Money was always important to Roberts: he lived like a robber baron out of the Gilded Age on funds raised by shaking the faithful (aka suckers) down.
Religion is, of course, inherently irrational, it’s based on belief and faith. I’m one of those people who can’t buy into it and the Oral Roberts’ of the world make it even harder for people with a brain to have such faith. If Oral Roberts could really heal the sick and lame, why didn’t he heal himself? I guess God finally called him home to the great penthouse in the sky…