Magazine article The Christian Century

Pioneer Televangelist Oral Roberts Dies at 91

Magazine article The Christian Century

Pioneer Televangelist Oral Roberts Dies at 91

Article excerpt

ORAL ROBERTS, the pioneering television evangelist and faith healer who became the dean of Pentecostal preachers in the U.S. died December 15 at the age of 91, in Newport Beach, California, of complications from pneumonia.

In 1954, Roberts became the second evangelist to appear on television--Rex Humbard was the first by a few months--when NBC began broadcasting his tent crusades. He switched to a half-hour Sunday show 13 years later, and by 1977 his Sunday morning show reached 1.1 million households and was the top-rated religious program on television.

Ordained by the Pentecostal Holiness Church, he joined the United Methodist Church in 1968 but left after 19 years. To millions, Roberts's name was synonymous with faith healer, though it was a term Roberts himself disliked, saying, "God heals--I don't."

Before Roberts came on the scene, "the idea of healing within a religious service was left to Christian Scientists or people who went to Lourdes,"

Harvard theologian Harvey Cox told the Associated Press. …

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