Earlier this week Richard and Lindsay Roberts made an appearance on Larry King Live to discuss allegations made against them by three former professors at Oral Roberts University.
The evening the Roberts appeared on Larry King, a friend sent me a three-word email, “Lies, lies, lies” it read. I asked my friend if there was more to say. This is what I received:
I am a relatively recent graduate of ORU and feel compelled to address the litany of rumors and allegations that are currently circulating about the University. What I write is based on my experience in attending ORU and is in no way related to the lawsuit at hand.
It is important to note that Oral Roberts University is a rock solid educational institution, with a host of qualified, dedicated and God fearing faculty and students. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience there and have built a good career thanks to the training I received.
However, I can say that I am deeply disappointed with the half truths and outright lies being disseminated by the Roberts. I want to point out the truth in light of the smoke and mirrors.
A Lavish Lifestyle
In order to understand the angry reaction to the luxurious lifestyle enjoyed by the Roberts, it is important to understand that ORU is millions of dollars in debt (perhaps as high as $85 million), due to a slowdown in giving to Oral Roberts Ministries and financial mismanagement. This crushing load has necessitated severe staff cutbacks, reduction of salaries and delays on campus improvements. While campus salaries are reduced or jobs eliminated altogether, Richard and Lindsay drive around campus in luxury cars that cost more than a Professor makes in a year.
Addressing the Allegations
Richard and Lindsay billed the University for home improvements they say were necessary due to black mold in their house, yet what they didn’t say is that mold was a problem in dormitories around campus, resulting in the illness of several students. The problem was ignored until one dorm was simply demolished.
While Richard said on Larry King that he, “has the full support of the Regents” what he didn’t divulge was the fact that he is quoted as saying that he “stacks the deck” on the board and “removes any regent who gives him trouble” A quick look at the members serves as a who’s who in the Charismatic movement instead of independent ombudsmen.
Richard stated that the University funded trip to the Bahamas was at the request of Regents from the area to recruit students to the University. What he didn’t add was that they stayed in the Atlantis resort (at University expense) and that expenses included receipts for liquor, a violation of University honor code
Finally, Lindsay Roberts expressed shock at her inclusion in the lawsuit, stating that she was not a University employee. However, her attempt to feign innocence falls flat. Lindsay runs a variety of campus functions, including final say over all content in the school newspaper, participation in campus worship teams as well as many other activities.
The Real Cost
Allegations aside, I am most troubled by the tone the Roberts have taken throughout this time. Instead of a spirit of humility and seeking what was best for the reputation of the University, the Roberts have accused the professors of extortion.
It is vital that the Regents make a stand for the integrity of the institution. While the legal process will either convict or exonerate the Roberts, there can be no question about an appearance of evil. The Bible talks often about the high standards set for spiritual leaders – a bar the Roberts have failed to reach. If the Regents do not remove the Roberts from their pedestal of leadership until the investigation is complete, their words about integrity, Godliness and honor will ring as hollow as the bronze hands that sit in front of the ORU campus.