Roberts says God forced his resignation
By JUSTIN JUOZAPAVICIUS, Associated Press Writer
November 27, 2007
TULSA, Okla. - Richard Roberts told students at Oral Roberts
University Wednesday that he did not want to resign as president of
the scandal-plagued evangelical school, but that he did so because
God told him on Thanksgiving that he should resign the next day,
Roberts told students in the university's chapel.
"Every ounce of my flesh said 'no'" to the idea, Roberts said, but he
prayed over the decision with his wife and his father, Oral Roberts,
and decided to step down.
Roberts said he wanted to "strike out" against the people who were
persecuting him, and considered countersuing, but "the Lord
said, 'don't do that,'" he said.
After submitting his resignation, he said, for "first time in 60 days
peace came into my heart."
Roberts spoke for only a few minutes and was applauded and cheered by
students. He wiped away tears with a white handkerchief and his hands.
"This has nearly destroyed my family, and it's nearly destroyed ORU,"
A lawsuit accuses Roberts of lavish spending at a time when the
university faced more than $50 million in debt, including taking
shopping sprees, buying a stable of horses and paying for a daughter
to travel to the Bahamas aboard the university jet.
Roberts has previously said that God told him to deny the
allegations. The week the lawsuit was filed, Richard Roberts said
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."
On Wednesday, Roberts said God told him he would "do something
supernatural for the university" if he stepped down from the job he
held at the 5,700-student school since 1993.
On Tuesday, the founder of a Christian office and education supply
store chain pledged $70 million to help the university, provided it
passed a 90-day review of the school's finances. Oklahoma City
businessman Mart Green, founder of the Mardel chain, offered to
donate $8 million immediately.
Roberts said he would return to the full-time evangelistic healing
ministry, "which is where my heart has always been," and told
students and faculty that he will be praying for them every day of
"I believe with all my heart the best is yet to come for ORU," he
Roberts walked out of the chapel through a side door to more cheers.
Regents Chairman George Pearsons followed, telling students the ORU
administration is "endeavoring to do the right thing" during a very
"This is a good university," Pearsons said. "ORU is a place where
love is king."
Gary Richardson, the attorney who filed the lawsuit accusing Roberts
of lavish living, said Wednesday there was a possibility for
settlement with the university, but held out little hope for settling
with Richard Roberts after what he said was his failure to admit in
chapel he did anything wrong.
"You can't imagine the people who say to us, 'Don't let it be swept
under the carpet,'" Richardson said.
Richardson also said his firm filed a request with Roberts' attorneys
for a copy of a report detailing an outside audit of the university's
finances. Tuesday, Pearsons refused to provide details of the audit,
citing the pending litigation.
"We'll get it, as long as there's a lawsuit involved," Richardson
Roberts remains the CEO of the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association
and remains a "spiritual regent" who cannot vote on university
On Tuesday, Pearsons announced a plan to separate the finances and
leadership of the university from the Oral Roberts Evangelistic
Association, a move welcomed by many students and faculty members.
The university has been under the ministry since its inception in
1963, an arrangement that critics say led to co-mingling of funds and
a blurring of leadership roles.