Talk:Robert Tilton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Former good article nominee Robert Tilton was a good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
September 23, 2006 Good article nominee Not listed
October 4, 2006 Good article nominee Not listed
Current status: Former good article nominee

To All Contributors...[edit]

Please do not blank out the Robert Tilton article. We are aware that some people may fundamentally disagree with its content, but blanking the article is not productive. If you have issues, please discuss them here...Scarletsmith 20:35, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

In reviewing this article according to the Good Article Criteria, I unfortunately need to decline this article's GA nomination for reasons that I will detail below. By nature of being a WP:BLP this article is elevated to a higher standard of verifiability and accountability with particular awareness of WP:NPOV presentation. In those regards, this article has areas where improvement in needed.
1. It is well written. - Weak Pass

  • Minor WP:MOS violation for section heading capitalization with A New Beginning, A Familiar End and Picking Up The Pieces. Though I would honestly recommend re-title to something more encyclopedic and slightly less "pov-ish" such as "Later ministries"
This has been done. Scarletsmith 03:47, 25 September 2006 (UTC)
  • The "marijuana, LSD, and various barbiturates" comment line is probably more appropriate in the Scandal section.
Moved. Scarletsmith 03:56, 25 September 2006 (UTC)
  • The External Links section is excessively spammy and POV in presentation. In relation to WP:EL, there is no reason to have that many Lampoonery and farting preacher links. I would recommend working the external articles into reference content for the main article. I also don't think links like the NNDB offer any encyclopedic value.
Links section has been somewhat cleaned up. Scarletsmith 04:35, 25 September 2006 (UTC)

2. It is factually accurate and verifiable. - Needs Improvement

  • Overall there are a lot of quality references with several news broadcast and newspaper publications. However I am concerned with some of the reference citations that violate the strictly worded guideline WP:BLP in regards to references. From the nutshell "Be very firm about high-quality references, particularly about details of personal lives. Unsourced or poorly sourced negative material about living persons should be removed immediately from both the article and the talk page." and the reliable source section of BLP "Information available solely on partisan websites or in obscure newspapers should be handled with caution, and, if derogatory, should not be used at all. Information found in self-published books, newspapers, or websites/blogs should never be used.." In accordance to BLP, I will be removing the below issues from the article for the time being till a more reliable source can be included. While I, personally, believe there is substantial truth to these comments the lack of reliable sources and conflict in verifiability provokes me to act accordingly. As WP:V notes it's all about verifiability, not truth.
  • Ref 12 is used with the "begging for money" statement that Tlton spent 84% of his time asking for donation. Alternatively the Sean Rowe Dallas Observer reference uses a figure of 68%. Now the question for WP:V sake is, which one is right? At the very least that warrants a mention that there is conflicting figures.
Fixed. Scarletsmith 04:21, 25 September 2006 (UTC)
  • Ref #11 to Let us Reason ministry is used to source the statement "He also taught that poverty, sickness, and other problems were directly caused by Satan, and he repeatedly encouraged viewers to 'give the devil a black eye' by making a vow to his ministry". with the giving the devil a black eye used in quotes and connected to giving to his ministry. However in looking at the site, I don't see this particular claim being made in that article nor do I see that quote. Secondly, with this being a WP:BLP such negative claims need to be solidly sourced according to WP:RS which overall I don't think this website and with its blog/essay format qualifies. In contrast, I think websites like the Bible Study Manuals with the link to Ken Sarles' essay that was featured in a theological journal would pass WP:RS.
Fixed. Scarletsmith 04:35, 25 September 2006 (UTC)
  • Ref #19 with the rapture ready site concern about being a WP:RS. This not a major concern since this particular quote is taken from an episode which can be verified in viewing. I just again need to strongly caution with thoroughly vetting sources in any BLP.
Fixed. Scarletsmith 04:42, 25 September 2006 (UTC)
  • Ref #27 is improperly labeled as coming directly from Snake Oil magazine but instead is a link to a personal website with POV commentary.
There is an online page that gives the same info, but at the moment I can't find it, so I'll strike the note and any remaining text. Scarletsmith 04:49, 25 September 2006 (UTC)

3. It is broad in its coverage. - Weak Pass

  • The article gives ample coverage to Tilton's ministries as well as the scandal for which he is most noted for. However, I do think there is slight underestimation of his overall influence in propagation of the Word of Faith movement.
  • There is a fair number of red links that should be addressed. If they are relevant to the article's content (like Dave Del Dotto) I would recommend creating at least a stub article that establishes notability. If this can't be done then the wiki-links should be removed.
Fixed. Scarletsmith 04:58, 25 September 2006 (UTC)

4. It follows the neutral point of view policy - Needs Improvement

  • Overall, I think the article strives for an NPOV tone but is tripped up in a few subtle areas. Again, given the serious nature of BLP, they will need to be addressed prior to GA achievement.
  • External Links POV mentioned above
  • POV statement in the Success-N-Life section. "Amazing 8,000 members"
Reworded. Scarletsmith 03:56, 25 September 2006 (UTC)
  • Advertisement with website link for in Picking Up The Pieces

5. It is stable - Pass

  • Unfortunately this article seems to be a vandalism target. However the editors have been vigilant in maintaining the integrity of the article and there have been no substantial edit wars in the recent history.

6. It contains images, where possible, to illustrate the topic. - Pass

  • The article includes a couple images about the subject.
  • Given the relevance of the various parodies about Tilton, some illustration (such as a screenshot perhaps?) in this area would be helpful.

I feel that all these concerns are addressable and I encourage the editors of this article to resubmit the article for GA review after they have been addressed. Tilton's influence in the Word Faith movement and polarizing reflection on the Christian faith is certainly merit for encyclopedic inclusion and this article is quite capable of achieving GA. In fact, I do need to take a moment and commend the article's editors for bringing the article up to this point. Given the controversial nature of the subject, this article could have been much more riddled with POV issues that would be considerably more difficult to address. It is the hard work and dedication of this article's editors that have been of immense benefit to this article and its current state. Again, I wholeheartedly encourage resubmission and I will be available if anyone has any questions. Agne 22:15, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

Comments removed from article in accordance to WP:BLP[edit]

The primary concerns are addressed in the GA review. I'm moving here in their entirety to make it easier to modify and include a more proper and reliable source if the item is going to be included back into the article. Agne 22:29, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

  • He also taught that poverty, sickness, and other problems were directly caused by Satan, and he repeatedly encouraged viewers to "give the devil a black eye" by making a vow to his ministry.[1] -- Ref #11 from above
Removed. Scarletsmith 04:59, 25 September 2006 (UTC)
  • Though many televangelists spend significant time on their shows' broadcasts requesting money, a Dallas Morning News story published in 1992 observed that Tilton spent more than 84% of his shows' airtime for fundraising and promotions, as opposed to 5% from the television ministry of Billy Graham, and even more than the 22% for an average commercial television show.[2] -- Ref #12 from above
Fixed. Scarletsmith 04:21, 25 September 2006 (UTC)
  • which included an affirmation that not only had he never thrown prayer requests away, but had in fact lain atop them in prayer for so long that "the chemicals [from the ink in the prayer requests] actually got into my bloodstream, and[...]I had two small strokes in my brain."[3] -- Ref #19 from above
  • Farmers Branch police responded to a disturbance call at the church in March 1994 when one of the parishoners at Word of Faith Family Church began trying to shout down Tilton during a demon blasting session, and the incident caused several long-time members to leave the church in protest of the direction the church had taken.[4] -- Ref #27 from above
StruckScarletsmith 04:49, 25 September 2006 (UTC)

Excellent work so far in improving the article. Your edits do quite a bit to alleviate the BLP concerns and improve the overall quality and NPOV tone. There is still the sticking points of the External Links section. I would recommend to trim it down to something like this
External Links

* Success N Life – official site, complete with online webcasts of Tilton's most recent television sermons
* Robert Tilton at
* Sacred Blue – webcomic satirizing Robert Tilton and other television evangelists
* All 5 farting preacher videos, available at one web site.


* Rowe, Sean. "The Resurrection of Robert Tilton." Miami New Times January 1, 1998.
* Branstetter, Ziva. "Robert Tilton: From downfall to windfall: Living on a prayer." Tulsa World May 4, 2003.
* Bender, Stephen. "Oh God, you devil." November 21, 2000.

I think this links would pass inclusion per WP:EL and minimize the POV-ish tilt as well as repeat of content. Agne 17:31, 25 September 2006 (UTC)

"Lampoonery section"[edit]

Do we need so many links in there? That's making it almost like an attack page. JoshuaZ 04:47, 24 September 2006 (UTC)

You're right. Links section cleaned up. Scarletsmith 02:53, 26 September 2006 (UTC)

Failed GA[edit]

There are major problems with this article.

1. Biography policy

There is the potential that this article is in violation of WP:BLP and in particular:

“Biographies of living people should be written responsibly, conservatively, and in a neutral, encyclopedic tone. While a strategy of eventualism may apply to other subject areas, badly written biographies of living persons should be stubbed or deleted.”

Unfortunately, this article is more of a listing of his scandals rather than a biography. But even more than just listing the scandals, they are written neither responsibly nor conservatively. Most of the scandals were broadcast on Primetime Live and not surprisingly, they are sensational. However, giving the full details and quotes is not encycylopaedic and would certainly not satisfy Wiki policy above. While scandals and accusations should be mentioned, they must be written in a neutral way perhaps summarised rather than detailled to maintain the encyclopaedic tone. I believe Jimbo Wales’ quote is relevant here.

"Real people are involved, and they can be hurt by your words. We are not tabloid journalism, we are an encyclopedia."

The reality is that the main reason Robert Tilton is famous--and notable--is that he is in fact a scandalous religious figure. Those of us who have contributed to this article strive for as much neutrality as we can get considering the available sources, but understandably this cannot be just a puff PR piece either. The main thrust of Tilton's notoriety is that he is, in fact, quite scandalous. Nevertheless, I will attempt to clean up some of the more objectionable POV issues in the critique, and I thank you for taking the time to review the article.Scarletsmith 17:37, 4 October 2006 (UTC)

2. Basic English

There are also some basic English problems which makes this article less than compelling.

There are several examples of using quoted clauses for nouns or adjectives. For example: "demon blasting", "get-rich-quick", "St. Matthew's Churches", and "preached this gospel of Jesus". If these are special quotes and are truly needed in the article, then they should be defined once and then regular nouns and adjectives should be used. There is also heavy use of dashed clauses for adjectives and nouns such as “the down-on-their-luck people”, “many types of come-ons they'd receive almost daily from big-media ministries”, and “he'd been a long-time high-dollar donor”. It would be better to use single word adjectives and nouns.

Fixed. It is hard to remove all of the dashed examples you cite, but most of them have been either reworded or removed.Scarletsmith 17:56, 4 October 2006 (UTC)

Other issues include the use of contractions like “he’d” and “they’d” which lowers the quality of the article. There are examples of poor prose for example, “to the tune of more than $80 million”. Also there is the incomplete sentence, “These infomercials that also appear under the title of Success-N-Life on BET Inspiration.”

Removed some of the contractions, reworded some of the "poor prose", and fixed the incomplete sentence.Scarletsmith 17:56, 4 October 2006 (UTC)

And I am not sure what the following sentence means:

“The director of Response Media told Anthony and the hidden cameras everything they needed to know, including the major revelation that the prayer requests not only were never read by Tilton, but that they were never even intended to be read by him”

Did the director say something to the hidden cameras?

Actually, yes, he did--one of the hidden cameras was mounted in the the eyeglasses of one of the Primetime Live producers, so when the Response Media spokesman spoke to the producers, he was often talking directly to the hidden cameras. I will reword this to make it a little clearer.Scarletsmith 17:56, 4 October 2006 (UTC)


Although just listing scandals makes the article to push a POV, there are also examples of POVcreep in a single sentence. The clause, “they were mere advertising gimmicks” was used to describe Tilton’s use of the prayer requests. Did someone use this description? If so, then it should be cited. Standing alone as is, calling it a “mere gimmick” is pushing a POV. Another example is the description of chemicals in the prayer requests that affected his eyes. The description seems out of place as this sentence comes into the context rather suddenly. It also appears POVish as the explanation is described as “unusual”.

Well, it was an unusual explanation (come on--chemicals from ink on prayer requests requiring plastic surgery?), but I understand the issue and have toned down some of the described rhetoric.Scarletsmith 17:56, 4 October 2006 (UTC)
I did some extensive searching and found an official blog for the Dallas Observer that has some additional clarification on the court decisions against Tilton and some defense of him by a former ministry worker.Scarletsmith 20:08, 4 October 2006 (UTC)

4. Citations

I also worry about the citations. The cites support part of a sentence, but not all. For example "Other sources put the total time to closer to 68%, still high in comparison with many other prominent televangelist and even network television." The sources supports the 68% value, but does not support the second clause (“still high in comparison…”) And “grew to 8,000 members and was one of the most successful megachurches in the world at the time.” The source supports 8000 members, but does not state that it was one of the most successful megachurches in the world.

Fixed.Scarletsmith 17:56, 4 October 2006 (UTC)

5. Manual of Style

Other than the first word, words in the subsection titles are not capitalised.

Fixed.Scarletsmith 18:18, 4 October 2006 (UTC)

The post-1997 part of the article is mostly made up of one-paragraph sections. These should be under one section under several paragraphs.

I combined the parts about reviving Success-N-Life, closing Word Of Faith Family Church, and establishing Christ The Good Shepherd Church into one section, then put the continuing scandal and the Trinity Foundation's ongoing investigation into another. That makes a little more sense.Scarletsmith 18:40, 4 October 2006 (UTC)

I am afraid some major work needs to be done. The main points that will help improve this article are 1) better English/better prose and 2) maintaining a strong neutral tone as this is a biography of a living person. Even a person as reprehensible as Robert Tilton deserves to have a quality article. RelHistBuff 14:48, 4 October 2006 (UTC)

I happen to think that those of us who've contributed to this article have made a great start (and the previous GA reviewer did as well), and I thank you for your review and valuable input into making it a better one.Scarletsmith 18:42, 4 October 2006 (UTC)

when is a scandal not a scandal?[edit]

The scandal section begins with:

Even before the ABC News investigation into his ministry, Tilton had controversy in his background. In a deposition video for a lawsuit that was taped August 18, 1992, Tilton admitted to having robbed a fruit stand as a teen and abused marijuana, LSD, and various barbituates as a young man prior to his conversion to Christianity in 1969.[17] Tilton also admitted several times on Success-N-Life that he used to "drink lots of alcohol and use lots of drugs" before his conversion.

I am curious,how is this a scandal? Many christians were naughty prior to their conversion. Many teenagers were naughty because, well that's what teenagers do. He smoked dope and did some drugs and drank when he was a teenager. My first reaction is so what? That is pretty typical with many American teens. Certainly not scandalous. He robbed a fruit stand says the article but the cite has no mention of it. In view of this is a living person and there is no support for the alleged fruit stand robbery I am going to remove that bit after I hit save page here. I think we should remove all of the "teenage years" from the scandal section but wanted to get opinions from others here before I do it. I just don't view it as scandalous. How many of YOU smoked dope or drank booze in your youth? Heck, how many of you still smoke dope or drink booze ;-) Mr Christopher 23:20, 28 December 2006 (UTC)

I just read the cite for that paragraph and none of what is written is in the cite. Therefore I am deleting the entire paragraph. Feel free to add it if some reliable cites can be found. But again, I don't think smoking pot as a teenager is exactly scandalous. Mr Christopher 23:27, 28 December 2006 (UTC)

The paragraph is correct. The cites are wrong, as people who have moved sentences around in the article have mislaid the proper references. I've put the paragraph in question back as it's relevant to the fact that Tilton was scandalous in religious circles even before the PTL story appeared and will be correcting the end notes.Scarletsmith 19:42, 8 January 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for making sense of the cites. I cannot agree that drinking alcohol and smoking pot during one's youth constitutes a scandal. I don't care enough about the subject matter to argue about it but I think it is very wrong. If we are to say Tilton's teen years constiutute scandal then virtually every biography of someone under 50 should have a scandal section as well. If he had sex with goats while under the influence of pot I'd support the scandal notion but just about everyone under 50 smoked pot and drank alcohol at some point during their youth. That is not a scandal, it's pretty ordinary. Mr Christopher 23:46, 8 January 2007 (UTC)
Gary Richardson, the Dallas lawyer who got Tilton to admit to the drug and underage alcohol use in an affidavit, would disagree. Such a background in drug and alcohol abuse, while it may seem just like a normal youthful indiscretion (especially for folks coming of age in the 60s), turned out to be a real problem in later life; while Tilton said under oath that he no longer drank or used drugs, both of Tilton's former wives brought his excessive alcohol abuse up during their divorce proceedings (Leigh Valentine made it a central point in her divorce that Tilton was often drunk and hallucinating about "rats eating [his] brain"). For that reason, I think it needs to be left in.Scarletsmith 04:30, 9 January 2007 (UTC)
It may be that his alcohol consumption was also an issue after his marriage, but that is the scandal, not his consumption prior to conversion. In order for this to be considered scandalous, the divorce proceedings need to be included and cited in the section. Otherwise, the original commenter, Mr. Christopher, is correct. Raoulduke25 (talk) 14:05, 20 January 2009 (UTC)

UK Emo Hardcore band[edit]

A UK Emo band, hailing from Norttingham, named themselves after the televangelist. They were touring from 1993 to 1999 and released two albums, Crescent in 1996 and Leading Hotels of the World in 1999. The albums never lived up to their live shows, which were recognised as some of the best around that time in the UK Hardcore scene. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by SMKinnear (talkcontribs) 18:49, 7 February 2007 (UTC).

Tounges and ticks[edit]

I did not see any mention of his wierd habit of breaking into nonsense words in the middle of his presentation, which is apparently his notion of "speaking in tounges." It's not biblical and it really creeps me out. Also, in the latest version of his show (which I have seen) he seems to have an uncontrollable tick or twitch or jerk that moves his entire head. Looks like a neurological disorder of some kind, like Parkenson's. I don't have a citation for the latter; I suppose it is sort of OR. But just LOOK at him sometime! You'll see what I mean. Bigmac31 17:42, 16 May 2007 (UTC)

I know what you're talking about. Surely a reliable source out there discusses that oddity. It's hilarious. · jersyko talk 19:51, 16 May 2007 (UTC)
Apparently, this was a habit he got into when he would trip over his tongue during his sermons/TV appearances/etc. On The Prophet Of Prosperity, one of the clips has him talking about how people make fun of him because of his speech patterns, and in the midst of it, he gets tongue-tied and starts "talking in tongues". It's utterly ridiculous, of course, but I think it's an affectation. Scarletsmith 01:49, 17 May 2007 (UTC)