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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

Don't use God as excuse for actions

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

If the following column offends some, let me apologize from the beginning. But apologies aside, I am offended when someone hides behind religion to justify a lifestyle that is clearly misguided and wrong.

Richard Roberts, the son of Oral Roberts, has now resigned as president of Oral Roberts University because of an unfolding scandal centered on a somewhat lavish lifestyle. Roberts is the subject of a lawsuit that claims he spent lavishly on his personal lifestyle while the university was $50 million in debt.

Now I don't know if Roberts spent too much on his home and vehicles and travel and toys. I have no way of knowing the exact details. But those who filed the lawsuit certainly do and in the coming months the truth will surely surface.

But that's not my issue with Richard Roberts. My issue is that, according to Roberts, it was God who directed him first to resist the call to resign and then later, God changed his mind and told Roberts it was best for him to leave.

I personally don't think that's how God works. Granted, I most certainly could be wrong. Perhaps Roberts does have a direct line to God and perhaps God did change his mind. But you'll never convince me.

There will be some nasty details when this case winds its way through court. Roberts says that God first spoke to him and told him to deny the allegations. I will quote directly on the following. Richard Roberts says that God told him, "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."

And those were the words Roberts told the university when the lawsuit was filed a month ago.

But on Thanksgiving, God once again spoke to Roberts and this time advised the troubled minister to resign as president of the university. Roberts did not explain why God changed his mind. But he said God had "insisted" that he make the move.

I could be all wrong on this issue. Maybe God did tell Roberts to fight the charges and then later told him to step down. Unfortunately, I am just cynical enough to believe that perhaps other forces came into play that helped to change Roberts' earlier position. And maybe Roberts does a disservice to his father's school and many others by making the claims he has made.

My God doesn't speak to me the way he speaks to Roberts. Perhaps the Rev. Richard Roberts is much closer to his maker than I will ever be. I can accept that.

I would have accepted Roberts decision had he simply said that after thoughtful prayer he believed it best for the university and for his family if he resigned. I would have fully understood. But that's not what Roberts did and that's not what he said. I will take him at his word because that is what he has always claimed.

Religion and belief are touchy subjects in our society. Same for the entire world. No one rejoices when a man of God gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar or participating in activities that are questionable. But often it's not the man of God who suffers but those who have put their faith in his hands.

I would like to ask Richard Roberts why he thinks God changed his mind. I suspect someone along the way will ask that exact question. Stay tuned for the answer.

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen