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Oral Roberts’ Tommy rot (Roberts’ FBI File)

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by Jason Smathers on August 9, 2010

Ever see a faith healer and think the televangelist is deceiving his audience? You are not alone. Some people spot the deception while many others get sucked right in. Consider the following story reported by the AP found on page 24 of the late Oral Roberts’ FBI File obtained by Witnesses Unto Me:

A woman diabetic, who told friends she threw away her insulin in the belief she had been cured by faith, apparently died from lack of the drug, an assistant medical examiner said today. … The woman, a diabetic since infancy, attended services of evangelist Oral Roberts Friday and Saturday.

Events like this do not go without making anyone angry. Page 3 of Oral Robert’s FBI file contains a death threat. The man offers his prayers for a million dollars and provides death as a second choice. This wasn’t Roberts only death threat the FBI looked into, pages 59-67 concern an investigation of a threat on the lives of Oral Roberts and Richard Nixon. The writer of this threat turned out to be a resident at a state mental hospital.

Not everyone wanted Oral Roberts dead, others just wanted him put in jail. One person mailed in the newspaper clipping of the woman who ditched her insulin thanks to Roberts, then died. The FBI sent this case to the FCC.
One letter writer sarcastically suggested Oral Roberts should be brought to VA hospitals to faith heal all the vets, saving millions in government medical expenses.
The Chief of Police of Western Samoa contacted the FBI concerning an Assemblies of God missionary showing videos of Oral Roberts performing faith healings. The Chief had this to say (see page 45):
…the person stands up tosses away his crutches and walks away apparently fully restored praising the Lord as he moves off. To me this is a lot of Tommy rot and I hate to have anyone in this State displaying film of this sort before large Samoan audiences and consequently obtaining a large following and undoubtedly being well financially rewarded.

At this time in 1963 the FBI had not conducted an investigation into Oral Roberts, but noted they had several inquires about him.
The FBI file does not indicate a formal investigation into Oral Roberts, but he seemed to think one was going on. Roberts insinuated in a letter to the FBI that agents were following him and took his picture one morning. Roberts shows quite a sense of humor in his letter dated September 5, 1970 (see page 12 of the Oral Roberts FBI file), Oral Roberts writes the FBI providing pictures of himself taken in the evening, when he says he looks better. He also told the FBI “I hope Mr. Hoover received the – Oral Roberts Magazine Subscription I sent him.”
Perhaps the most interesting tidbit in Oral Robert’s FBI file is not about Mr. Roberts at all. J Edgar Hoover responds to a letter from an 18 year old looking for information on preachers. He explains his reason for turning to Mr. Hoover in his letter to him “From what I have read about you, Mr. Hoover you are a very religious man.” J Edgar Hoover responds with a warning about Billy Graham:
The Billy Graham Evanelistic Association, 1620 Harmon Place, Minneapolis, is said to be “contact” of the NATINFORM (Nationalist Information Bureau,) which is described as a small extremely fascist and anti-Semitic organization in Lancashire England.

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