Richard Roberts (evangelist)

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For other people named Richard Roberts, see Richard Roberts (disambiguation).
Richard Roberts
Born Richard L. Roberts
(1948-11-12) November 12, 1948 (age 66)
Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.
Residence Newport Beach, California[1]
Occupation Evangelist, broadcaster
Salary $496,088[2]
Title CEO of Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association
Religion Pentecostalism
Spouse(s) Lindsay Roberts
Patti Thompson (divorced)
Children Christi, Juli, Jordan, Olivia and Chloe
Parent(s) Oral Roberts (deceased)
Evelyn Roberts (deceased)

Richard Roberts (born November 12, 1948) is chairman and chief executive officer of the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association and previously served as president of Oral Roberts University (ORU) for 15 years. After Roberts stepped down, the outgoing ORU board of regents elected him president emeritus.

Early life and education[edit]

Roberts was born on November 12, 1948 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the son of evangelist Oral Roberts. As a young boy, he watched his father travel the world conducting healing meetings where he would preach and pray for the sick. When school and schedules permitted, Richard accompanied his father.

Though drawn to the ministry, Roberts was made uncomfortable by the attention his father received. He was often teased by classmates and even teachers, and got into fights about his father. “I came home from school many a day with my shirt torn and my nose bloodied from being in fights with the other kids who made fun of me, my dad and the healing ministry of Jesus Christ,” he says.[3][where?] As a teenager he began to pull away from involvement with his father's ministry, and began pursuing other talents and interests, such as singing.[3]

During Roberts’ senior year in high school, he was offered a music camp scholarship for the summer of 1966 to the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan by founder Joseph Maddy, when Maddy brought a performing group to the Oral Roberts University campus. According to Roberts' autobiography, he landed the male lead in the camp’s production of Annie Get Your Gun.[4]

He began attending the University of Kansas in the fall of 1966. Performing as the lead singer in a rock band in Tulsa and working in the nightclub circuit throughout the state of Oklahoma, he began to dream of becoming a nightclub singer in Las Vegas—“the place that signaled ‘success’ in the eyes of the world.”[3] However, he later transferred to Oral Roberts University and in 1968, his junior year, decided to pursue ministry. [5] He received a bachelor of art's degree in Communication Arts from ORU in 1985[5] and later a master's in theology.[6]


At 19, Roberts re-joined his father’s ministry, traveling and singing in his father’s meetings. He helped form and direct the ORU World Action Singers, becoming executive producer of the ministry’s weekly television program. In 1984, he began a live, daily TV program called Richard Roberts Live. In 1985, Roberts became President and CEO of the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association.[citation needed]

ORU Presidency and controversies[edit]

In May 1993, Roberts became president of ORU after being supported by the Board of Regents and his father.[7] He had previously served as Executive Vice President, under his father, for eight years.[8] Under his leadership, in 1999 the faculty of the School of Theology and Missions, according to Roberts, "laid out a plan to establish a fasttrack Doctor of Ministry degree for busy, full-time ministers" and "suggested that the first core group would fill much faster if I were a part of it."[9] In May of 2002, Roberts earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from the ORU School of Theology and Missions with a dissertation titled A Study of the Impact of the Course, "Charismatic Life and the Healing Ministry," on Oral Roberts University Undergraduates under the supervision of Thomson K. Mathew.[10]

In October 2007 three former professors filed a lawsuit in Tulsa County, claiming to have been wrongfully terminated. They also alleged Roberts misused university assets and illegally ordered the university to participate in Republican candidate Randi Miller's political campaign for Tulsa mayor. Roberts claimed that this occurred while the tax-exempt university was working lawfully with the Republican National Committee on out-of-state projects as part of a long-standing, pre-approved curriculum which had been in place for several years.[11][12]

Other allegations against Roberts include claims he used university funds to pay for his daughter's trip to The Bahamas by providing the university jet and billing other costs to the school, maintained a stable of horses on campus and at university expense for the exclusive use of his children, regularly summoned university and ministry staff to the Roberts house to do his daughters’ homework, remodeled his house at university expense 11 times in the past 14 years, allowed the university to be billed both for damage done by his daughters to university-owned golf carts and acquired a red Mercedes convertible and a white Lexus SUV for his wife Lindsay through ministry donors.[13][14] Roberts responded by saying, "This lawsuit about intimidation, blackmail and extortion."[13]

On October 12, 2007 the plaintiffs filed an amended version of the lawsuit alleging three days after the original lawsuit was filed, Roberts fired the university's financial comptroller (who had been employed by ORU for 26 years) and "witnesses have reported voluminous materials and documents were shredded and destroyed, constituting spoliation of evidence." In a written statement the university denied "purposely or improperly" destroying documents. Upon review it was discovered that the shredded documents had nothing to do with any allegations and were a part of normal policy, required by law for the privacy and protection of students and ministry donors .[15][16]


On October 17, 2007 Roberts asked for and was granted an indefinite leave of absence from the school by the university's board of regents, citing the "toll" the lawsuit and attendant allegations have taken on him and his family.[17] In a statement Roberts said, "I don't know how long this leave of absence will last... I pray and believe that in God's timing, and when the Board feels that it is appropriate, I will be back at my post as President."[17] Billy Joe Daugherty of Victory Christian Center was named executive regent of the board of regents and interim president.[18] Chairman of the board of regents George Pearsons noted the temporary resignation was not an admission of guilt.[18]

On November 13 the tenured faculty of Oral Roberts University approved a nonbinding vote of no confidence in Roberts.[19] The vote was nearly unanimous according to a professor in attendance.[20]

In a wrongful termination lawsuit filed against the university on November 21 of the same year, former ORU accountant Trent Huddleston claimed he had been ordered to help Roberts and his wife "cook the books" by misclassifying nearly $123,000 in funds allegedly spent by the university on remodeling the Roberts' home. Huddleston had been an employee for less than one year. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2009, with Huddleston's attorney stating that there would be an appeal. ORU claimed he was nothing more than a disgruntled employee.[21] Roberts tendered his resignation to the university's board of regents on November 23, 2007, effective immediately. In an emailed statement he said, "I love ORU with all my heart. I love the students, faculty, staff and administration and I want to see God's best for all of them."[22]

On January 14, 2008 the outgoing ORU board of regents voted unanimously to name Richard Roberts president emeritus in honor of his work during 15 years as president.[23]

By the spring of 2009 all of the lawsuits had been settled or dismissed.[24]

Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association[edit]

After his resignation, Roberts focused on the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association.[25]

In 2007, Roberts conducted an evangelistic rally in Niger.[26][verification needed] The event was followed by days of free medical clinics, distribution of food for the hungry, and prayer by his team of more than 40 doctors, dentists, nurses, musicians, and others.[26] In 2008 and 2009, Roberts and his team also preached in the tiny homes of a “cardboard city” in El Salvador, a disease-infested dump site in Nicaragua where 200 families live, and several understaffed orphanages.[26]

Roberts works with his daughter, Jordan, Director of Hunger Needs A Voice – a humanitarian outreach of the Oral Roberts Ministries.[27][verification needed]

Roberts has written several books, including When It Seems All Hope Is Gone, The Good News Is the Bad News Is Wrong, and his autobiography, He’s the God of a Second Chance. His newest book, He’s A Healing Jesus, was published the spring of 2010.

Personal life[edit]

Roberts married his first wife, Patti, in 1968, divorcing her in 1979. They had two daughters, Christi and Juli. In January of 1980, Roberts married a young graduate student, Lindsay Salem. They remain married, and reside in Tulsa, Oklahoma with their three daughters Jordan, Olivia and Chloe.[28][29] Richard and Lindsay had a son, Richard Oral Roberts, who died of medical complications 36 hours after being born.[30]

In 2010, the OREA's 990 showed Richard Roberts was paid $496,088 plus $95,150.[2] He also received $202,402 in compensation from Oral Roberts University, which listed him as "former president."[31] His wife, Lindsay Salem Roberts, is paid $75,255 plus $150,700.[2] Currently, Jordan Roberts operates "Hunger Needs A Voice," a branch of Oral Roberts Ministries.[32]

2012 arrest and guilty plea[edit]

On January 24, 2012, the birthday of his deceased father,[33] Roberts was stopped in Tulsa, Oklahoma on U.S. Route 169 going 93 mph in a 65-mph zone in his Mercedes S430.[34] After failing two field sobriety tests, he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and for driving more than 15 miles per hour over the speed limit.[34] He agreed to take a breath test, which measured his blood alcohol content at .11, above the legal limit of .08.[35] On January 30, 2012 Roberts was charged with two misdemeanor counts, including driving under the influence of alcohol.[36]

At a May 2012 hearing, Roberts pled guilty to a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol, speeding, receiving 18-months of probation, avoiding jail time, and paying $1,532 in fees, assessments and court costs.[1] He was also ordered to complete 56 hours of community service, undergo a drug and alcohol assessment, and attend DUI classes, which can be completed in California, his place of residence.[1]


  • A Study of the Impact of the Course, "Charismatic Life and the Healing Ministry," on Oral Roberts University Undergraduates. (D.Min, Oral Roberts University, 2002)(ProQuest document ID 305425748)
  • Claim Your Inheritance (Tulsa, Oral Roberts Evangelistic Assoc., 2002) OCLC 49848142
  • If You’re Going Through Hell, Don’t Stop (Tulsa, Oral Roberts Evangelistic Assoc., 1998) OCLC 40613311
  • If You Catch Hell, Don’t Hold It (Tulsa, Oral Roberts Evangelistic Assoc., 1999) OCLC 45089986
  • He's a Healing Jesus (Oral Roberts Ministries, 2010)
  • He's the God of a Second Chance (Tulsa, Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association, 1985) OCLC 12415666
  • The Good News Is the Bad News Is Wrong! (Tulsa, Oral Roberts Evangelistic Assoc., 1993) OCLC 55895413


  1. ^ a b c "Richard Roberts gets probation in DUI case; former ORU president pleaded guilty, serves no jail time". Tulsa World. May 2, 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-19. 
  2. ^ a b c "Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association 990". GuideStar. 2010. Retrieved 2012-07-05. 
  3. ^ a b c He’s the God of a Second Chance, 1985
  4. ^ Claim Your Inheritance, 2002
  5. ^ a b Richard L. Roberts, A Study of the Impact of the Course, "Charismatic Life and the Healing Ministry," on Oral Roberts University Undergraduates. (ProQuest document ID 305425748) D.Min, Oral Roberts University, 2002, page 187
  6. ^ "Roberts Passes Helm to Son," The Bulletin, January 28, 1993
  7. ^ "Oral Passes Along Title To Son," The Vindicator, May 3, 1993
  8. ^ "The Dallas Morning News: Oral Roberts executive seeks balance," Dallas Morning News, January 12, 1993
  9. ^ Richard L. Roberts, A Study of the Impact of the Course, "Charismatic Life and the Healing Ministry," on Oral Roberts University Undergraduates. (ProQuest document ID 305425748) D.Min, Oral Roberts University, 2002, page vi
  10. ^ Richard L. Roberts, A Study of the Impact of the Course, "Charismatic Life and the Healing Ministry," on Oral Roberts University Undergraduates. (ProQuest document ID 305425748) D.Min, Oral Roberts University, 2002
  11. ^ "3 Former Professors Sue Oral Roberts U.". The Chronicle of Higher Education. October 4, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-24. [dead link]
  12. ^ Tulsa World (October 2007). "Swails, Brooker, Brooker v. Oral Roberts University, et al." (PDF). United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma. Retrieved 2007-09-24. 
  13. ^ a b "Oral Roberts president faces corruption lawsuit". MSNBC. October 5, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-24. 
  14. ^ Justin Juozapavicius, Associated Press, "Scandal Brewing at Oral Roberts U.", October 5, 2007[dead link]
  15. ^ Online copy of revised Swails lawsuit against ORU, October 12, 2007
  16. ^ Tulsa World, "Lindsay Roberts, ORU deny latest claims", October 13, 2007
  17. ^ a b Blumenthal, Ralph (2007-11-18). "President of Oral Roberts to Take Leave of Absence". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  18. ^ a b Marciszewski, April (2007-10-18). "Roberts takes ORU leave". Tulsa World. Retrieved 2007-10-18. 
  19. ^ "Faculty Opposes Oral Roberts President". Associated Press (The New York Times). 2007-11-14. Retrieved 2007-11-16. 
  20. ^ Marciszewski, April (2007-11-15). "ORU faculty gives vote of no confidence". Tulsa World. Retrieved 2007-11-16. 
  21. ^ Justin Juozapavicius, November 21, 2007, "Oral Roberts Accountant Sues Over Firing"[dead link]
  22. ^ "Embattled Oral Roberts President Resigns"[dead link]
  23. ^ Marciszewski, April (2008-01-15). "$62 million for ORU". Tulsa World. Retrieved 2010-10-01. On Monday, regents voted unanimously to name Richard Roberts president emeritus to honor his work during 15 years as president, Pearsons said. 
  24. ^ "OCIS Case Summary for CJ-2007-6543- SWAILS, DR JOHN v. ORAL ROBERTS UNIVERSITY (Tulsa County District Court):". The Oklahoma State Courts Network. Retrieved 2010-10-01. 
  25. ^ "Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association Home Page". Retrieved 2011-06-28. 
  26. ^ a b c Tulsa World, “ORU’s Richard Roberts brings evangelistic rally to Muslim nation,”2-17-2007
  27. ^ OREA Press Release, 1-2010
  28. ^ Captioned family portrait in ORU alumni magazine, Summer 1991, retrieved 5 October 2007[dead link]
  29. ^ "Digging in the Walls", Timothy magazine, Vol. 7, Issue 3 "The Life and Ministry of Oral Roberts", 1990, retrieved from Christian News and Views, October 8, 2007
  30. ^ Marciszewski, April (2007-10-14). "Robertses steel selves for crisis with prayer". Tulsa World. Retrieved 2010-10-01. The couple’s daughters are now 18, 20 and 22, but before them was a baby boy, Richard Oral, who lived 36 hours 
  31. ^ "Oral Roberts University". GuideStar. Retrieved 2011-07-07. 
  32. ^ "Who is Jordan Roberts?". 2012. Retrieved 2012-07-07. 
  33. ^ January 24, 1918 – December 15, 2009
  34. ^ a b "Richard Roberts, ORU's former president, arrested on DUI complaint". Tulsa World. January 25, 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-19. 
  35. ^ "Oral Roberts' son arrested on suspicion of DUI -". CNN. 2012-01-24. 
  36. ^ "DUI, speeding charges filed against Richard Roberts, former Oral Roberts president". Tulsa World. January 31, 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-19. 

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