Another religious charlatan has departed this mortal coil. The latest one exiting stage left is Oral Roberts. The evangelical pioneers are all kicking it.
The standard line on Roberts goes something like this (from the Chicago Tribune):
Mr. Roberts became one of the most famous preachers of the 20th century by pioneering the use of television and computerized databases to spread the gospel and raise hundreds of millions of dollars -- a formula followed by many other ministries.
Using sophisticated direct-mail campaigns, Mr. Roberts popularized the "prosperity gospel," which asserts that God generously rewards financial acts of faith.
"It gives people hope and expectation that seeds sown to God will be multiplied back in every area of life," Mr. Roberts wrote in his 1995 autobiography, "Expect a Miracle: My Life and Ministry."
Mr. Roberts brought Pentecostalism -- which promotes charismatic worship including faith healing and speaking in tongues -- to the mainstream, giving it a newfound sense of legitimacy among the middle class and within other Christian denominations.
That last paragraph threw me for a loop. I'd never thought of Roberts as someone who legitimized religious practices and experiences, like speaking in tongues, which if taken this out of its religious context, might get the practitioner committed to a mental health facility.
I found these two comments from the NY Times to be more pertinent than most of the mainstream accounts of Roberts' life, spent fleecing suckers in the U.S. and abroad.
From Mitch, in Florida-
This marks the end of an era. Roberts was one of the great religious huckster's of the last century. He could pull money out of the trailer parks like no other. He was also a great inspiration for me. I wanted to get into the game with them 25 years ago, but after watching him, Falwell, Angley, Swaggart, et al, I knew that I couldn't compete with pros like these guys.
These guys had the routine dialed in and I could have never kept a straight face with the delivery. Too bad. "I could have been a contender".
From Charlie, McLean (?)-
Change happens one funeral at a time. He will NOT be missed.