Thinkin’ Out Loud: Come To Tulsa

By Lewis Willis

My, that sounds like it would make a good title for a country music song! Or maybe a Chamber of Commerce tourism promotion. Sorry, neither of the above. It is, instead, the latest Oral Roberts fund raising campaign. This fella has more ideas about how to make money than the U.S. Congress!

About a year and a half ago (January 1983), I wrote an article about Roberts’ City of Faith Medical Center out in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He has built a 60-story diagnostic clinic, a 30-story hospital, and a 20-story research center–a total of I 10 stories of medical facilities. Some of you will recall that he raised millions for this project by telling the public he had seen a vision of a 900-foot tall Jesus standing over his City of Faith Medical Center. Supposedly, that was in 1981. He started feeling pressed for funds again in 1983, so he told everyone he had a 7-hour talk with Jesus, and the Lord assured Oral he was going to find the cure for cancer, and so the people sent in more millions. Apparently he has raised enough money to complete his hospital. So, we come now to the next phrase in his “Make Oral Rich” campaign. I had suggested in that previous article that he was going to figure some way to use that hospital so that more revenue could come in to him. Little did I know how he was going to approach it!

In a program telecast on May 27, 1984, he flashed on the screen a telephone number–it wasn’t even toll free–and he asked everyone to call that number and make a reservation to come to Tulsa for a check-up! If you build 110 floors of hospital, you need patients more than you need anything else. Now we know how he plans to get them. He plans to get all of his disciples to come out there and pay for a physical examination. I suppose it is to discover medically whether or not Oral actually healed all of his followers as he has claimed through the years. Looks to me like that would be a lack of faith on the part of the whole bunch. He goes out here preaching to people to “claim your miracle,” and then he asks them to come to Tulsa and let him diagnostically confirm that it occurred. What is wrong with the faith of Roberts and his people? They accuse me of blasphemy when I challenge them on these subjects. But if it will make the pocket jingle, they’ll do anything under the sun.

On that same program (as a matter of fact, it was the announcement immediately following the request for people to make reservations for a check-up), Oral announced that he and Richard were going to Baltimore for a healing crusade. He can heal them in Baltimore, but they have to enter the hospital in Tulsa! Anyone who can’t see through that kind of junk has closed his eyes (Matt. 13:15). People who can’t see through this scam shouldn’t be issued a driver’s license. They might end up hurting themselves.

It looks to me like Oral ought to at least be as good to his contributors as Jim Bakker is. Bakker is building a “world-class” hotel on his property down in North Carolina. It is going to be a monstrous thing. He will have 11 acres under roof–a multi-story facility–in his new hotel. For the small contribution of $1,000 you could get a lifetime membership entitling you to 4 days and 3 nights of free lodging per year. It’ll probably be available only in the middle of January! Oral could have at least offered a free yearly check-up at his hospital for a few hundred thousand dollars each. A lot of sick folks would probably have taken him up on that. But these fellas seem to have problems with anything that is said to be “free.”

The concept of such things is, if you need a doctor, why not have a Christian doctor? Why not be taken care of by Christian nurses? I guess that’s a pretty good concept. It you’re going to be in a Christian hospital to be treated by Christian doctors, you need a car that was Christian-built, powered by Christian-made gasoline, and repaired by Christian mechanics. Of course, driving to the Christian hospital, you’re going to have to eat, so you want to go to a Christian grocery store where Christian-grown food is sold. Or you might stop to eat at a Christian-operated restaurant. I hesitate to mention such things for one of these fellows might decide to try building such. If you have to travel a long way, you need, of course, to stay in a Christian motel chain. With this concept, a guy could start his own country! Do you suppose that’s what Oral and Jim have in mind?

After I had completed writing this article, but before I got it into the mail, I read in the Akron Beacon-Journal (6/l/84) why Oral needs all of those people to come to Tulsa for a check-up. Oral is having to cut back on his expenses because they are exceeding his income. It has been necessary for him to lay off 330 workers because he can’t afford to pay them. One fourth of the staff of his City of Faith Hospital has been laid off. He has had to eliminate 90 positions in his Evangelistic Association, and he’s had to cut the work week to 32 hours for employees at his college. Obviously, he’s suffering through some hard times. However, if people will stop thinking and just do whatever he says, he’ll get that problem straightened out. If he can import a few thousand people and have them pay for a medical checkup, Blue Cross and the other carriers will bail him out! These boys don’t miss a trick, do they? He might get a bit of a surprise on this latest fund raiser since insurance companies are trying to cut back on their costs. Most of them do not pay for a check-up just because somebody decides he wants one. I somehow doubt that the fellows operating these insurance companies are as gullible a the people who foot the bill for these spectacular ideas Oral and his buddies come up with. I was just thinkin’, Oral might end up in his own hospital for treatment of a ulcer that develops from this mess he has made out there. But he’ll be in good hands-that’s what he’s telling his followers.

Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 18, pp. 553, 568
September 20, 1984