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Oral Roberts Dead at 91


Televangelist Oral Roberts, whose homophobic views were definite if not widely publicized, died Tuesday in Newport Beach, Calif., of complications from pneumonia. He was 91.

Roberts, who first won fame as a purported faith healer, became the head of an international ministry based in Tulsa, Okla. His realm included Oral Roberts University, which in 2006 blocked its campus to youths participating in the Soulforce Equality Ride, who were visiting Christian colleges and universities in hopes of spreading a message of acceptance for LGBT people. Six Equality Riders and two other people were arrested in that incident. According to Soulforce, a university police officer said, "We love you all; do not come onto our campus."

In a 1986 video posted on YouTube (below), Roberts sends a much more blunt antigay message, graphically describing which body parts fit into which: "Look at the orifices of the body, the openings of the body. Certainly you can't put the male organ, or the woman's tongue in the eye. ... Certainly not in the orifices of the nose, or the navel."

Roberts's ministry was beset by some scandals. In 1982 his elder son, Ronald, committed suicide; there have been rumors that Ronald, who was married with children, was gay. Oral Roberts University has had financial problems, leading to the 2007 resignation of Oral Roberts's other son, Richard, as president, amid allegations of fiscal impropriety, which Richard has denied.

Richard's first wife, Patti, discussed her disillusionment with the family in a memoir, Ashes to Gold. Also, in January 1987, Oral Roberts famously told followers that God would call him home if he failed to raise $8 million by March 31 of that year; the money did come in.

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