Richard Roberts (evangelist)

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Dr. Richard Roberts
1 Richard Roberts.jpg
Born Richard L. Roberts
(1948-11-12) November 12, 1948 (age 66)
Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.
Residence Sarasota, Florida

Bachelor's Degree Communication Arts, Oral Roberts University 1985,

Master's Degree, Oral Roberts University(School of Theology and Missions) 1992,

Doctor of Ministries, Oral Roberts University, 2002
Occupation Evangelist, Broadcaster, Educator
Salary $496,088[1]
Title President & CEO of Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association
Predecessor Oral Roberts
Religion Christian
Spouse(s) Lindsay Roberts
Patti Thompson (divorced)
Children Christi, Juli, Richard Oral (deceased 1984), 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]

Richard Lee Roberts was born on November 12, 1948 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the son of evangelist Granville Oral Roberts (deceased 2009) and school teacher Evelyn Lutman Roberts (deceased 2005). The third born of four Roberts children, Richard had an older sister, Rebecca Ann, who along with her husband Marshall Nash, was killed in a plane crash in 1977, and an older brother Ronald David, who died in 1982 in what was determined to be a suicide. Richard’s younger sister, Roberta Jean Potts is a practicing attorney in Tulsa, Oklahoma. [2]

As a young boy, Roberts watched his father travel the United States and the world conducting healing meetings where he would preach and pray for the sick. At times, his father and mother were gone for periods as long as six weeks. When school permitted, Roberts accompanied his father on trips and dreamed of having a healing ministry of his own; many times walking by his sided as his father prayed for people in the “invalid tent”. [3] During the portions of the services where people were getting prayed for,[4] Roberts was often standing on his chair clapping when people were healed.[5]

At a young age, Roberts’s music talent was evident to those around him. At the age of 5 he had his first public performance at an Oral Roberts crusade in Baltimore, Maryland, standing on a chair in front of several thousand people singing “I Believe.”[6] Also at an early age, his father began to teach him the game of golf. With his first swing of the club, while in their front yard, he sent a ball right through the living room window of their home. In his book, Expect A Miracle My Life and Ministry by Oral Roberts, Oral talks about the bond they gained though the game of golf. Roberts eventually became an excellent golfer and played with notable celebrities. [7]

Though drawn to ministry, Roberts was made uncomfortable by all the attention his father received. He was often teased by classmates and even teachers, and even 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.” [8] As a teenager, with the negative press his father was receiving and pressure from his father to sing at crusades, he began to pull away from involvement with his father’s ministry and began pursuing other talents and interests, such as singing. [9]

As a teenager he learned to play the guitar and began singing in pizza parlors and eventually nightclubs around the state of Oklahoma. There was a new dream in his heart, to become a nightclub singer in Las Vegas. [10] In 1966, during Roberts’ senior year in high school he played the lead in his high school play The Sound of Music. He then was offered a music scholarship for the summer to the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Traverse City, Michigan, by the founder Joseph Maddy, when Maddy brought a performing group to the Oral Roberts University campus. According Roberts’ autobiography, he landed the male lead in the camps production of "Annie Get Your Gun. [11]

Graduating from Memorial High School in May of 1966[12] Roberts was accepted to three different universities and chose the University of Kansas to attend college due to its well known music program and it being the farthest distance from Tulsa. [13]

Richard Roberts and Shirley Jones

During the summer of his freshman year he worked at the famous 8,000 seat, outdoor Starlight Theater in Kansas City, [14] with a number of performers including Shirley Jones.[15] He also had been working in a number of night clubs and had been offered a contract to sing in Las Vegas. [16][17]

While at the University of Kansas, Roberts gets sick and has to go to the hospital, possibly needing surgery. The surgery was avoided but soon after returning from the hospital, while alone in his room, he hears a voice, coming out of know where, telling him he is in the wrong place. "Where am I supposed to be?, he asks. The voice says, Oral Roberts University.[18] In the Fall 1967, Roberts dropped out of the University of Kansas and enrolled in Oral Roberts University. [19] In 1968 at the age of 19, two weeks before his birthday, Roberts dedicates his life to Jesus Christ[20] and he joined his father’s ministry as a singer on television and in crusades.[21]

Roberts received his bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts from Oral Roberts University in 1985. He received his Master’s Degree from the Oral Roberts University School of Theology and Missions in 1992[22] as well as his Doctor of Ministries degree in 2002 from Oral Roberts University.[23]


Against the wishes of his family and friends, Roberts marries Patricia (Patti) Holcombe on November 27, 1968. In his book, He’s The God of a Second Chance, Roberts’ states, “I was young and thought that I had all the answers to life. Of course, I didn't. I soon discovered that I had made a terrible mistake that I didn't know how to get out of. I did not believe in divorce. So I decided to make my marriage work.”[24] Together they have two children. Christi is born in 1971 . Juli is born in 1972. In 1978 Patti files for divorce. [25]

With his divorce hitting 300 newspapers nationwide and his position in the Ministry, Roberts believed it was important to go before the executive staff of the Ministry and the University to discuss his desire to remarry and seek their approval. They approved his request. .[26] Several weeks later, on January 11, 1980, Roberts married Linda Ann Salem in the campus chapel of Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida.[27]

Together Richard and Lindsay had four children. After several miscarriages, their first child, Richard Oral, was born on January 17, 1984. Within hours, complications developed and he died 36 hours after birth. Jordan was born in 1985. Olivia was born in 1987. Chloe was born in 1989.[28] Roberts has 3 grandchildren.


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.[29] He had previously served as Executive Vice President, under his father, for eight years.[30] 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."[31] 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.[32]

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.[33][34]

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.[35][36] Roberts responded by saying, "This lawsuit about intimidation, blackmail and extortion."[35]

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 .[37][38]


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.[39] 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."[39] Billy Joe Daugherty of Victory Christian Center was named executive regent of the board of regents and interim president.[40] Chairman of the board of regents George Pearsons noted the temporary resignation was not an admission of guilt.[40]

On November 13 the tenured faculty of Oral Roberts University approved a nonbinding vote of no confidence in Roberts.[41] The vote was nearly unanimous according to a professor in attendance.[42]

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.[43] 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."[44]

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.[45]

By the spring of 2009 all of the lawsuits had been settled or dismissed.[46]

Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association[edit]

After his resignation, Roberts focused on the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association.[47]

In 2007, Roberts conducted an evangelistic rally in Niger.[48][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.[48] 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.[48]

Roberts works with his daughter, Jordan, Director of Hunger Needs A Voice – a humanitarian outreach of the Oral Roberts Ministries.[49][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]

In 2010, the OREA's 990 showed Richard Roberts was paid $496,088 plus $95,150.[1] He also received $202,402 in compensation from Oral Roberts University, which listed him as "former president."[50] His wife, Lindsay Salem Roberts, is paid $75,255 plus $150,700.[1] Currently, Jordan Roberts operates "Hunger Needs A Voice," a branch of Oral Roberts Ministries.[51]

On January 24, 2012, the birthday of his deceased father,[52] Roberts was stopped in Tulsa, Oklahoma on U.S. Route 169 going 93 mph in a 65-mph zone in his Mercedes S430.[53] 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.[53] He agreed to take a breath test, which measured his blood alcohol content at .11, above the legal limit of .08.[54] On January 30, 2012 Roberts was charged with two misdemeanor counts, including driving under the influence of alcohol.[55]

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


  • 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 "Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association 990" (PDF). GuideStar. 2010. Retrieved 2012-07-05. 
  2. ^ ”Expect A Miracle-My Life and Ministry by Oral Roberts,1995, Thomas Nelson Publishers, pages 195-248”,
  3. ^ ”Claim Your Inheritance by Richard Roberts, 2002, The Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association, pages 19-20,”
  4. ^ “You Can Touch Heaven With Your Faith by Richard Roberts, 1991, The Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association, page 23,”
  5. ^ ”Expect A Miracle-My Life and Ministry by Oral Roberts,1995, Thomas Nelson Publishers, pages 195-248”,
  6. ^ ”He’s the God of a Second Chance, 1985”, page 12
  7. ^ ”Expect A Miracle-My Life and Ministry by Oral Roberts,1995, Thomas Nelson Publishers, pages 195-248”,
  8. ^ ”He’s the God of a Second Chance, 1985”, page 9
  9. ^ ”Faith to Try Again by Richard Roberts, 1997, Albury Publishing, page 13”
  10. ^ ”He’s the God of a Second Chance, 1985”, page 13
  11. ^ ”Claim Your Inheritance by Richard Roberts, 2002, The Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association, pages 14,”
  12. ^ “Tulsa People Magazine, Volume XI, Number 77, May 1998, page 19”
  13. ^ ”Claim Your Inheritance by Richard Roberts, 2002, The Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association, page 15,”
  14. ^ ""
  15. ^ ”He’s the God of a Second Chance, 1985”, photo
  16. ^ ”Expect A Miracle-My Life and Ministry by Oral Roberts,1995, Thomas Nelson Publishers, pages 195-248”,
  17. ^ ”Claim Your Inheritance by Richard Roberts, 2002, The Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association, page 21,”
  18. ^ ”He’s the God of a Second Chance, 1985”, page 20
  19. ^ ""
  20. ^ ”He’s the God of a Second Chance, 1985”, page 25
  21. ^ ”Faith to Try Again by Richard Roberts, 1997, Albury Publishing, page 35”
  22. ^ “Oral Roberts University Alumni Directory,1998,page 313”
  23. ^ "Roberts Passes Helm to Son,"The Bulletin,January 28, 1993
  24. ^ ”He’s The God of a Second Chance, page 30”
  25. ^ ”He’s The God of a Second Chance, page 31”
  26. ^ ”Expect a Miracle-My Life and Ministry by Oral Roberts, page 228”
  27. ^ ”He’s The God of a Second Chance, page 54”
  28. ^ ”36 Hours with an Angle by Lindsay Roberts, 1990”
  29. ^ "Oral Passes Along Title To Son," The Vindicator, May 3, 1993
  30. ^ "The Dallas Morning News: Oral Roberts executive seeks balance," Dallas Morning News, January 12, 1993
  31. ^ 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
  32. ^ 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
  33. ^ "3 Former Professors Sue Oral Roberts U.". The Chronicle of Higher Education. October 4, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-24. [dead link]
  34. ^ 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. 
  35. ^ a b "Oral Roberts president faces corruption lawsuit". MSNBC. October 5, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-24. 
  36. ^ Justin Juozapavicius, Associated Press, "Scandal Brewing at Oral Roberts U.", October 5, 2007[dead link]
  37. ^ Online copy of revised Swails lawsuit against ORU, October 12, 2007
  38. ^ Tulsa World, "Lindsay Roberts, ORU deny latest claims", October 13, 2007
  39. ^ a b Blumenthal, Ralph (2007-11-18). "President of Oral Roberts to Take Leave of Absence". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  40. ^ a b Marciszewski, April (2007-10-18). "Roberts takes ORU leave". Tulsa World. Retrieved 2007-10-18. 
  41. ^ "Faculty Opposes Oral Roberts President". Associated Press (The New York Times). 2007-11-14. Retrieved 2007-11-16. 
  42. ^ Marciszewski, April (2007-11-15). "ORU faculty gives vote of no confidence". Tulsa World. Retrieved 2007-11-16. 
  43. ^ Justin Juozapavicius, November 21, 2007, "Oral Roberts Accountant Sues Over Firing"[dead link]
  44. ^ "Embattled Oral Roberts President Resigns"[dead link]
  45. ^ 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. 
  46. ^ "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. 
  47. ^ "Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association Home Page". Retrieved 2011-06-28. 
  48. ^ a b c Tulsa World, “ORU’s Richard Roberts brings evangelistic rally to Muslim nation,”2-17-2007
  49. ^ OREA Press Release, 1-2010
  50. ^ "Oral Roberts University". GuideStar. Retrieved 2011-07-07. 
  51. ^ "Who is Jordan Roberts?". 2012. Retrieved 2012-07-07. 
  52. ^ January 24, 1918 – December 15, 2009
  53. ^ a b "Richard Roberts, ORU's former president, arrested on DUI complaint". Tulsa World. January 25, 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-19. 
  54. ^ "Oral Roberts' son arrested on suspicion of DUI -". CNN. 2012-01-24. 
  55. ^ "DUI, speeding charges filed against Richard Roberts, former Oral Roberts president". Tulsa World. January 31, 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-19. 
  56. ^ a b "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. 

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