Saturday, October 6, 2007

Evangelical fun from my hometown

It's always interesting to hear what's going on in my hometown of Tulsa, OK and I ran across this new story today about ORU and the Oral Roberts family. The story did not surprise me at all. Growing up with Oral Roberts' family in town I always just assumed there was funny business going on. Anyone who claimed to be a simple country boy and interested only in spreading god's word but with that much money to spend just didn't seem right to me. The university campus was architecturally interesting but way over the top. Then he said god spoke to him and told him to build the huge City of Faith Medical Center, which was the tallest building in Tulsa (over 60 stories, plus two smaller but still large towers) and massive failure. The "prayer hands" statue shown in the news story used to be in front of the medical center. The local joke even back in the early 1980's was that when you walked up to the hands one of them would drop down with its palm open to put money into. If you didn't put money into it the other hand would drop palm down down to squash you. I remember when Oral said that he'd spoken to god (or was it god that spoke to him?) and was told that if he didn't raise $8 million within a certain time frame he would be "called home". I was disappointed when someone from back east gave him the money, supposedly just to shut him up. What I could never understand is if going "home" to heaven is supposed to be eternal bliss and everlasting happiness, why do so many christians fear and avoid it? Why was it such a bad thing that Oral should have been called home to be with his god? Is it that their faith isn't nearly as strong as they want us to believe and fear what amounts to the unknown with them?

This newest scandal with the Roberts family just shows me how uninterested in spreading their faith these people really are. They've learned that spreading religion is a money-making industry and they have tapped into that. And now Richard Roberts is saying god spoke to him and told him to fight these charges. It's downright sacrilegious to to say that god has nothing better to do than speak this family and tell them to keep doing what they're doing. It's just very sad, but also typical anymore, to see these evangelists abusing their followers to give themselves a cushy life. It gets very old hearing of these Christian groups using religion to further their own selfish interests. When was the last time you heard of a Pagan, Buddhist, Hindu, or Muslim organization using their religion to do what amounts to stealing from donors?

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