Richard Roberts resigned as president of Oral Roberts University today. He did so against his will, because, he said, God told him to do it. According to Roberts, the son of ORU founder Oral Roberts, God has been waffling lately with regard to Roberts’ future.
A lawsuit accuses Roberts of lavish spending while the university faced more than $50 million in debt. According to the suit, he went on shopping sprees, bought a stable of horses, and sent his daughter to the Bahamas aboard the university jet. Referring to the three former professors who filed the suit as his “persecutors,” Roberts said that God had originally instructed him to deny all allegations, but on Thanksgiving Day, did a turnaround and told him to resign his post.
The lawsuit was not just about Roberts’ alleged spending during a time when ORU was $50 million in debt, but also included an allegation that Roberts illegally mobilized students to campaign for a Republican mayoral candidate. Another allegation was that Roberts’ on-campus house had been remodeled fourteen times in eleven years, and one that did not make the lawsuit was that Roberts used university-purchased cell phones to text messages to under-age males in the middle of the night.
Here is the text of what Roberts said God told him after God had a change of mind about the matter: “We live in a litigious society. Anyone can get mad and file a lawsuit against another person whether they have a legitimate case or not. This lawsuit … is about intimidation, blackmail and extortion.”
Not all of the news was bad. According to Roberts, God also said that something miraculous would occur on the university’s behalf if he resigned. And now Mart Green, founder of the Christian office and educational supply store chain Mardel, said he would immediately give $8 million to the university, with another $62 million to come after a review of the university’s financial records.