PRESS COLLECTION: “Evangelist Oral Roberts” (1965)

Oral Roberts was an American Pentecostal televangelist and a Christian charismatic. He was the founder of Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association and Oral Roberts University. As one of the most famous and controversial religious leaders of the 20th century, his ministries reached millions of followers worldwide over six decades. His healing ministry and bringing American Pentecostalism into the mainstream had the most impact, but he also pioneered TV evangelism and laid the foundations of the prosperity gospel and abundant life teachings. November 16, 1965.

1947 came as a turning point. Up until that time Roberts had struggled as a part-time preacher in Oklahoma. But at the age of 29 Roberts claims he picked up his Bible and it fell open at the Third Epistle of John where verse two read: “I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” Roberts decided immediately that it was all right to be rich. The next day he said he bought a Buick and God appeared, he said, telling him to heal the sick.

Roberts was married to Evelyn Lutman Fahnestock (April 22, 1917 – May 4, 2005) for 66 years from December 25, 1938 until her death from a fall at the age of 88. Their daughter Rebecca Nash died in an airplane crash on February 11, 1977 with her husband, businessman Marshall Nash. Their elder son, Ronald Roberts, committed suicide by shooting himself in the heart on June 10, 1982, five months after receiving a court order to undergo counseling at a drug treatment center and six months after coming out as gay. The other two Roberts children are son Richard, an evangelist and former president of Oral Roberts University (ORU), and daughter Roberta Potts, an attorney. Roberts’ gay grandson, Randy Roberts Potts, talked about his uncle Ronald Roberts, and wrote an article discussing growing up gay in the Oral Roberts family.

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