Oral Roberts

Oral Roberts


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Oral Roberts is an American neo-Pentecostal televangelist. He also is known for his claims of faith-healing power — and being spoken to by God.Youth and marriageGranville “Oral” Roberts was born on January 14, 1918, in Pontotoc County, Oklahoma, to the Reverend and Mrs. After Oral left high school, he attended Oklahoma Bible schools on a part-time basis.Roberts married Evelyn Lutman Fahnestock in 1938; she was a preacher’s daughter. In 1977, Roberts' daughter, Rebecca, and her husband, Marshall Nash, were killed in an airplane crash. His son, Richard, and daughter-in-law, Patti, who were being groomed to take over Roberts' ministry, were divorced in 1979. In 1984, Richard and his second wife, Lindsay, lost their baby two days after birth.Beyond the church wallsAfter serving as a Pentecostal pastor of four congregations, Roberts left that ministry in 1947, to found the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association. By 1952, his radio and television programs were broadcast all over the United States and Canada, and around the world on short-wave radio.{Please check middle sentence above for meaning. Is it okay?}A call to educateTo obey a command from God in 1963, Roberts founded Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The university enrolled its first students in 1965.The Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association also operates the Abundant Life Prayer Group, which operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and is staffed by students from the university. It is located in the Prayer Tower in the middle of the university's campus.A tall orderIn 1980, Oral Roberts announced he had received a vision of a 900-foot-tall Jesus, who encouraged him to continue building the City of Faith Medical and Research Center. The center was intended to merge prayer and medicine in the healing process.The facility was in operation for just eight years before closing in late 1989, proving to be to costly to operate. The Orthopedic Hospital of Oklahoma operates on the premises today.A divine deadlineIn 1987, Roberts announced that unless he raised $8 million by March, God would "call him home." The funds would send medical missionaries to Africa.After the March deadline came and went, he stated on April 1 that the money had been raised. A dog track owner in Florida had donated the final $1.5 million needed to reach the required amount.Oral Roberts has received many awards, including Indian of the Year (1963) by the American Indian Exposition, Oklahoma Hall of Fame (1973), and Oklahoman of the Year (1974) by the American Broadcasters Association. He also has received numerous honorary doctoral degrees.


Oral Roberts - History

An evangelist, Oral Roberts founded Oral Roberts University (ORU) in 1962 in Tulsa. Born Granville Oral Roberts in Pontotoc County, Oklahoma, in 1918, he studied at Bible colleges and became a minister. In 1947 he began his career in evangelism and subsequently became an American Charismatic Christian evangelist. Chartered by the State of Oklahoma in 1963, ORU held its first classes in 1965. As a private, nonsectarian, liberal arts institution, it had an enrollment of 303 that year. At the time of its dedication on April 2, 1967, the university had eight completed buildings situated on a 420-acre campus. Rapid growth occurred in the 1970s. Enrollment reached one thousand in 1971, the year in which accreditation was given by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. The Mabee Center, housing performing arts facilities and an indoor sports arena, was completed in 1972. Other buildings constructed included residence halls, a worship center, a graduate center, and 190 apartments. ORU added a school of nursing in 1975 and schools of medicine and dentistry in 1978.

ORU continued to progress in the early 1980s. In 1980 fifty-four students enrolled in the law school, and by 1983 graduate degrees were also offered in business, education, and theology. By that time the campus comprised more than five hundred acres and twenty-two buildings, including City of Faith Medical and Research Center, which comprised a sixty-story clinic, a thirty-story hospital, and a twenty-story research facility, accommodating the medical and bioscience programs. However, a downturn in the economy and dwindling donations following television evangelism scandals in the late 1980s caused the school of dentistry to close, and the law school was transferred to CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network) University (now Regent University) in Virginia Beach, Virginia. In 1990 ORU's school of medicine closed, after having graduated 333 physicians.

ORU is noted for its futuristic architecture. A monumental, sixty-foot-tall, thirty-ton bronze sculpture depicting Praying Hands is a dominant image, stationed at the school's main entrance, the Avenue of Flags. The visual effect of massive columns used at the John D. Messick Learning Resource Center references King Solomon's Temple. The Prayer Tower, in the center of campus, is an abstraction combining a cross and a crown of thorns. The City of Faith's Tower stands at 648 feet in height and is said to be the state's second-tallest building.

In January 1993 Oral Roberts stepped down as president, and his son, Richard, assumed the presidency. In the 2004–05 academic year ORU enrolled 4,240 students, representing all fifty states and sixty-two foreign nations. The institution offered bachelor's degrees in sixty-four undergraduate majors, ten master's degrees, and two doctoral degrees.

Bibliography

"Education, Higher—Oklahoma—Tulsa," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.

Granville Oral Roberts, Oral Roberts University, 1965–1983: "True to a Heavenly Vision" (New York: Newcomen Society of the United States, 1983).

"Oral Roberts University," Vertical File, Downtown Branch, Tulsa City-County Library System, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Tulsa (Oklahoma) World, 26 August 1990.

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Oral Roberts and Early Christian Television

Reader Brian Sinks sends in this interesting historical background on the Oral Roberts Media Ministry – for those who are interested in the early days of religious television:

Oral started his broadcast media outreach on radio in 1947 with his “Healing Waters” program which ran (in some form) until 1989.

Oral’s first (and only) color film (that you are well aquainted with!) “Venture into Faith” (a drama!) was shot in 1952 for $80,000 (I’m including costs because I know you will find it humorous compared to today’s costs). To make it authentic, parts of two crusade meetings (Oral’s sermons: “You Are What Your Believing Is” and “There Is No Power Like The Power of Faith” and healing lines) were shot in Birmingham, Alabama. I think it was here because of the problems – first: filming with low light under the tent then – second: after lighting the inside it got so hot under the film lights – that the idea of shooting the tent meetings on an ongoing basis seemed unimaginable. It was still Oral’s driving desire to be on television. So they worked out another solution.

Oral started on television in January 1954. Oral shot 26 half hour programs in Hollywood called: “Your Faith is Power” for a total cost of $104,000. Evelyn read testimonies and Oral preached to the camera on a living room type set. The program aired for all of 1954 (a first run and rerun of each – Boy do I wish we had these films!). It was during this time Oral began his ongoing stuggle with shooting with or without an audience (you KNOW what I’m talking about!). He hated talking to a camera lens and thought these programs missed “the presence of people.”

Enter Rex Humbard: “Oral, I film and broadcast my Sunday services every week here in Akron. There must be a way for you to film the powerful tent crusades!”

Enter Pathescope Productions in New York City: “We have a new low-light fast film. Let’s shoot three pilot films!

So in July of 1954, three meetings were shot in Akron, Ohio:
428-A – 7/13/54 – “Samson and Delilah”
428-B – 7/14/54 – “Demons”
428-C – 7/15/54 – “The Fourth Man”
(It’s unfortunate none of these films are around – especially “Fourth Man.”)

The results were so impressive that the ministry began making inquiries into purchasing their own film equipment that they purchased late that year at a cost of $500,000 (in 1954!). It’s documented that they shot a group of three more crusades meetings in Portland, Spokane and Oakland before taking at least two cameras over to Israel (Jordan) to shoot three illustrated (dramatized!) sermons during Christmas week of 1954:
1211-A – “Easter Story: If A Man Die Shall He Live Again!”
1211-B – “Pilgrimage To Bethlehem” (shot in Bethlehem)
1211-C – “The Second Coming of Christ”
(I’ve been able to use all but “Second” which is missing – dang.)

[DRUM ROLL]
February 1955: “ORAL ROBERTS – The Abundant Life Program” began airing on 61 stations (including New York City, Chicago & Los Angeles!) at a cost of $8,350.89 a week. A month later this grew to 91 stations at a cost of $11,592.04 a week. Two months later (May 2, 1955) a young woman named Anna Williams watches the program, prays with Oral and is able to walk again. Her story was carried nationwide in newspapers and magazines. It only took another year or so for the program to grow to 135 stations (there were only 500 possible then) and 80% of the country!

Also of note: After the films were shot they were edited in Chicago. Chicago would also be important when Oral found it hard to preach new messages for the programs by late 1959. Since everywhere he went people wanted to hear him preach the same classic sermons all the time (“The Fourth Man” – “You Can’t Go Under” – “Samson and Delilah” – etc.) he began preaching new sermons for the television audience in a Chicago studio with a tent crusade-like canvas backdrop. He must have gotten over talking to a lens for a season! [However, the healing lines were still live from the crusade meetings (and must have helped their film budget!)]. I’ve been told (I don’t remember the source) that the Chicago studio they used became Ophra Winfrey’s Harpo Studios. It would be a treasure to find the original negatives of the tent crusades in a closet at Harpo or maybe in LA!

Back in 2005 – after 50 years on television – we calculated the ministry had produced over 10,000 programs and over 160,000 hours.


Oral Roberts' legacy lives on through his school, where 'homosexual activity' is banned and conversion therapy is mandatory

The university created in Oral Roberts' name was "founded to be and is committed to being a Christian religious ministry" and, as such, requires a "commitment to Jesus Christ of Nazareth as personal Savior and Lord" from all of its students. Part of that commitment involves signing the school's Honor Code Pledge, which prohibits stealing, gossiping, cheating, cursing, drinking alcohol, using drugs and tobacco, and "any illicit, unscriptural sexual acts" deemed "immoral and illegal" by the institution.

That latter category includes "any homosexual activity and sexual intercourse with one who is not [a] spouse through traditional marriage of one man and one woman." And the school mandates that students who are found to be in violation of the policy or identify as LGBTQ undergo conversion therapy, a pseudoscientific practice outlawed in at least 20 states — but not Oklahoma — that the American Psychological Association "strongly opposes."

The leading group of American scientists and psychologists insists that conversion therapy represents "a significant risk of harm by subjecting individuals to forms of treatment which have not been scientifically validated and by undermining self-esteem when sexual orientation fails to change."

"No credible evidence exists that any mental health intervention can reliably and safely change sexual orientation," the APA said in a 2013 statement. "Nor, from a mental health perspective, does sexual orientation need to be changed."

In practice, conversion therapy often prompts or exacerbates depression. And research from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law found that recipients of such treatments were "almost twice as likely to attempt suicide" or experience suicidal ideation compared with their queer counterparts who were not subjected to the practice.

In other words, conversion therapy could be deadly, and it's mandatory on Oral Roberts' campus.

Such was the case for Chance Bardsley, a Farmington, Arkansas, native who was kicked out of his home for coming out as gay mere months before heading to college, according to a 2018 article in The Arkansas Traveler. Then 18 years old, Bardsley told the University of Arkansas student newspaper that he was set to attend Oral Roberts University and that while he considered not matriculating because of the school's anti-LGBTQ policies, he prioritized "food and shelter."

Bardsley said he begrudgingly signed the Honor Code Pledge when he arrived on campus in Tulsa, and Oral Roberts staff members quickly went to work attempting to convert him to heterosexuality. After two years at the university featuring regular conversion-therapy sessions, the aspiring missionary said, he realized "if I keep going through this therapy, if I keep trying to change who I am, I'm going to kill myself."

He transferred to the University of Arkansas, where he grew to embrace his sexuality. Coincidentally, Oral Roberts will face his Arkansas Razorbacks in its next March Madness game.


The Golden Eagles have already done their part to boost the school’s popularity

Prior to their first-round upset, Oral Roberts University wasn’t exactly a nationally-known name. If history is any indication, though, they’ll be a bit more popular in the coming year.

Historically, teams that pull of Cinderella upsets see an increase in applications, even if they don’t make a legitimate run at the title. As explained by The Atlantic, Florida Gulf Coast saw 27.5% more applications after reaching the Sweet 16 Lehigh University and Wichita State also experienced similar boosts.

As a religious school, it’s not clear if Oral Roberts will experience the same surge in applications. If nothing else, though, the Golden Eagles have helped push their university into the national spotlight.


END NOTES

1 Nihal and Subadra Kappagoda were still residing in Oxford in 1962-63 and provided me with welcome Sri Lankan fare every now and then. At various moments, Chula de Silva and Michael Sporule were at St. Edmund Hall Tyronne Fernando and subsequently Kiefer Piachaud were at Keble and Carmini Wickremasinghe and Sunethra Bandaranaike at Somerville. We mostly adhered to our own paths but Kithsiri Malalgoda, Rhodes Scholar for 1965 was at Wadham round the corner from our cottage at Bath Place from late 1965 and we interacted every now and then.

2. I assume here that colonials like Tony Roberton did not usually have this kind of asset.

3. My pater had a deep interest in horse-racing and even owned racehorses (useless ones) in Sri Lanka at one point while serving on the horseracing Committee of the Gymkhana Club in Galle which ran the races at Boosa. A good part of his retired time was spent in studying the form book. Once I passed out of University and secured a job in 1961, he was free to migrate to UK where Pamela, one of my sisters, provided a home from home …and where he could study the racing form books – a pursuit denied once the SLFP government banned horseracing circa 1960/61.

4 He told me once that he felt that he would face colour prejudice within the British public service and he did not consider sitting for the Indian Civil service because it was a disease-ridden land. Hence his decision to enter the Colonial Civil Service examinations.

5 Note that the Authentics are the second string of Oxford cricketers — a largish group playing simultaneous week-end matches arrranged and marshalled by senior hands. As for the Hertford Eleven, it was marvellous happenchance that my work on the Anzacs and Australian nationalism led me to pursue the career of the journalist/academic Charles EW Bean and that Bean was at Hertford College in the same period and an ardent cricketer. Lo and behold, his biography served up a photo of the Hertford Team with my pater among the lot.

6 Note that Harrison College was rather like the Colombo Academy in British Ceylon in the mid-19 th century: it was the leading school in a colony marked by racism where the local White Bajans ruled the roost . Within this setting it is significant that TW Roberts is the only coloured player in the Harrison XI . For the photograph and other details, see Michael Roberts, “Four Bajans,” 2020 and “Cricketing Moments”, 2015.

7 On one occasion my pater did refer to this match: he was so juvenile the English fielders were amused and condescending. So, he smacked several boundaries, but then was dismissed.

8 SP Foenander 1924, p. 84.

9 My D. Phil. dissertation is entitled “Some Aspects of Economic and Social Policy in Ceylon, 1840-1871.”

10 I gathered that there was one organisation in USA that had embarked on such work from the 1950s in what was considered pa pioneering methodology …but cannot remember the pertinent details.

11 Dinesha De Silva has indicated that Richard Heggie was head of the Asia Foundation in Colombo from 1962-65 while James Noyes took over from 1965-68.

12 Shona was a sturdy aide – not only sustaining our home, but also seeing to my typing requirements, a task that grew in magnitude in Sri Lanka in the post 1966 period (see below)..

13 Clutterbuck was a British public servant from an elite background via Malvern College and Pembroke in Cambridge University and the officer corps of the Coldstream Guards during World Wa . He served as the Secretary to the Donoughmore Commission and was NOT a member of the CCS. He had been knighted when I met him and was amiable and open. One remark he essayed remains firmly in my mind: the Ceylonese people (meaning here the middle-class circles and political families he met) had a sense of humour. To interpret the implications: the Anglicized bonhomie of Sri Lankan (Ceylonese) politicians and their circles reaped political fruit.

14 Most of the retired Sri Lankan public servants were living in Colombo, though a few were in the Kandy locality.

15 For the semi-magical manner in which this project took off, see Roberts, “How It Became,” 2018.


History Of Oral Roberts University

Oral Roberts University (ORU), based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the United States, is an interdenominational, Christian, comprehensive liberal arts university with an enrollment of about 3,661 students.

Praying Hands at dusk on the campus of Oral Roberts University

Founded in 1963, the university is named after its late founder, evangelist Oral Roberts, and accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).

The school fronts on South Lewis Avenue between East 75th Street and East 81st Street in South Tulsa. Sitting on a 263-acre (1.06 km 2 ) campus, ORU offers over 65 undergraduate degree programs along with a number of masters and doctoral degrees. ORU is classified as Master’s University by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. ORU was also ranked as one of 123 institutions in the 2012 “Best in the West” regional list produced by The Princeton Review.

Founded to educate the whole person – spirit, mind and body – Oral Roberts University promises a thorough education in the context of a vibrant Christ-centered community.

ORU is a place for advancing knowledge, pursuing intellectual discovery and building life-long friendships in a vibrant campus community. ORU students are empowered on the quest for wholeness having the time of their lives, while preparing for their life’s mission.

Faculty members educated at the nation’s top graduate schools serve as academic, professional and spiritual mentors to students.

ORU continues to redefine what it means to be a leading Christian university by embracing a globalized format at home and abroad. The Tulsa campus is home to students from all 50 U.S. states and 86 international countries. ORU and its students also deliver the Whole Person distinctive to all inhabited regions through distance learning, study abroad, educational partnerships, missions and outreach work, all anchored in a Christian worldview.

The university was founded by Oral Roberts in 1965 “as a result of the evangelist Oral Roberts’ obeying God’s mandate to build a university on God’s authority and the Holy Spirit. God’s commission to Oral Roberts was to ‘Raise up your students to hear My voice, to go where My light is dim, where My voice is heard small, and My healing power is not known, even to the uttermost bounds of the earth. Their work will exceed yours, and in this I am well pleased’.” The first students enrolled in 1965.

The school was accredited in 1971 by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. It is also accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada. Oral Roberts’ son Richard Roberts was named president in 1993. In October 2007 Roberts took a leave of absence, citing a lawsuit filed by former ORU professors. Tulsa evangelist Billy Joe Daugherty and Oral Roberts were named executive regent and interim president of the university amid a widely publicized scandal and Richard Roberts resigned the following month.

In October 2007 the school was reportedly “struggling financially” with over $50 million in debt. ORU’s operating budget for 2007-2008 was more than $82 million. However, in the second quarter of 2009, the university’s debt was reduced to $720,000 as of result of a number of simultaneous efforts including a $70 million gift from the Mart Green family of Oklahoma City and the $25 Million Dollar Matching Campaign, a part of the university’s Renewing the Vision effort. On September 23, 2009, it was announced at the end of the university’s chapel service that all of the university’s long-term debt obligations had been met and the school was debt-free.

In January 2009, the university’s presidential search committee recommended Mark Rutland, President of Southeastern University of the Assemblies of God in Florida, to succeed Richard Roberts, which the Board of Trustees approved. Rutland took office on July 1, 2009 as the third president.

Oral Roberts University (ORU)

Campus Life

The university’s residential policy requires all unmarried undergraduate students who are younger than 25 to live on campus, although exceptions are made for those students who live with their parents within the Tulsa area. Men and women are housed in separate dormitory facilities on campus with student access to housing of the opposite sex largely restricted. In addition to having a chaplain on every “wing” of each dormitory, there are also Residential Advisers for each floor, who enforce curfew, take attendance at Chapel services, and serve as “go-to persons” for students living on their floors. As well, each floor has an Academic Peer Adviser (APA) who serves to offer or facilitate tutoring services to students who need assistance with their studies the APA also keeps students informed of academic news and obligations. Every Monday night is a mandatory Hall Meeting at which announcements are made by dorm leadership.


Oral Roberts University

Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.

Oral Roberts University, private, coeducational institution of higher learning in Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S. An interdenominational Protestant university, it emphasizes fundamentalist Christian values in its programs. A range of undergraduate programs leading to a bachelor’s degree is offered through schools of Arts and Sciences, Business, and Education, and through the Anna Vaughn School of Nursing. The business, education, and theology programs also offer master’s degrees, and doctorates in theology and educational leadership are available. Total enrollment is approximately 5,300.

Oral Roberts University was founded by evangelist Oral Roberts, was chartered in 1963, and began admitting students in 1965. The campus includes a 200-foot- (61-metre-) high prayer tower and the Kenneth H. Cooper Aerobics Center, a multipurpose sports facility.

This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen, Corrections Manager.


Share All sharing options for: Oral Roberts basketball’s run covers up the university’s painful history of homophobia

Oral Roberts celebrates their upset victory over Florida. This is not the inspirational story you think it is. IndyStar-USA TODAY Sports

Editor’s Note: The Arkansas Razorbacks advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time in 26 years with a 72-70 win over Oral Roberts in the South Region semifinals Saturday night.

During March Madness, there’s nothing the NCAA and college basketball fans love more than an inspiring Cinderella story. On that subject, last weekend, Oral Roberts University basketball made national news when they followed a stunning upset of Ohio State by knocking off Florida in the second round.

In so doing, the Golden Eagles became just the second 15-seed in men’s tournament history to reach the Sweet 16 and it appears they fit the Cinderella bill.

Except in this instance, Oral Roberts is what would happen if Cinderella were played by Anita Bryant. And the story would consist entirely of Cinderella screaming that you’re going to hell for the jokes you’re already making about her school’s name.

Usually, the Cinderella narrative serves to depict underdog schools in the best possible light, casting them as a band of plucky young upstarts taking down the titans of the Big 10 and ACC. Fans without a rooting interest love cheering a smaller school and the NCAA’s marketing arm encourages them to adopt one of the lower seeds as their team.

In the case of Oral Roberts, all of that narrative-building only serves to obscure the university’s status as one of the most anti-LGBTQ campuses in the country. And the basketball team’s sudden rise to prominence gives the school a national platform with which to market itself without answering for its extensive history of homophobia. So in other words, if you’re considering rooting for Oral Roberts, it’s important to know exactly what you’re cheering for.

It turns out that a university named for this guy is not the most open-minded place. Photo by Peter Stackpole/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

LGBTQ student advocacy group Campus Pride has named Oral Roberts on its “Worst List” of “The Absolute Worst Campuses for LGBTQ Youth.” The website explained that it included Oral Roberts because “it holds an exemption to Title IX in order to discriminate against its students on the basis of sexual orientation [or] gender identity. while still receiving federal funds.”

I don’t know about you, but generally, I prefer it when my underdogs don’t seek federal exemptions in order to persecute marginalized communities. For example, “Miracle” would’ve hit a lot differently if Kurt Russell’s pregame speech ended with “I’m sick and tired of hearing about what a great hockey team the Soviets have! But I could listen to their marriage equality views all day. ”

Indeed, Oral Roberts frequently wields its Title IX exemption against LGBTQ students as enthusiastically as you’d expect from a university founded by a televangelist. And nothing sums up the school’s attitude toward the LGBTQ population better than the fact that homosexuality is listed on its website under “Sexual Misconduct Policy.” In other words, Oral Roberts views being gay the same way hockey views cross checking.

The school’s history is littered with homophobia ranging from having The Advocate’s Equality Riders arrested on campus and sent to jail in 2006 to including Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill advocate Martin Ssempa on its Board of Reference until 2010. These moments probably won’t be mentioned during the telecast when ORU takes on Arkansas on Saturday night. But they’re important to know.

As with similar evangelical Christian colleges and universities, Oral Roberts requires all students to sign and adhere to an honor code that prohibits “unscriptural sexual acts, which shall include any homosexual activity. ”

That includes the athletes who will play this weekend. And while we cannot know how these players feel about the honor code, we do know that unless they pledge to adhere to it, they would not be able to play for ORU. Nobody should hold them responsible for what the administration requires, but it should not be hidden from view, either.

Thanks to that honor code, this exactly the kind of public art you get. Photo by: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Even prior to its Title IX exemption, Oral Roberts had been using that honor code against LGBTQ students, sometimes with life-altering consequences. For example, in August 2015, ORU student Sabrina Bradford was one semester away from graduating when university administrators learned that she had married a woman the previous January.

In just a couple of days, Oral Roberts informed Bradford that she would not be allowed to enroll for her final semester or finish her degree. As a result of her being unable to graduate, Bradford lost a job offer with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. Then her marriage dissolved, and there was talk of a plan to divorce.

We’re not sure what happened next, but that’s heartbreaking. And it’s not a relic of a past era. This all transpired less than six years ago.

Even more recently, gay student Chance Bardsley enrolled at Oral Roberts on the reasoning that he needed someplace to live after his family evicted him when he came out at 18 years old. So how did ORU administrators respond when they learned they had an out gay student on campus?

As Bardsley recalled to The Arkansas Traveler’s Chase Reavis, “They saw homosexuality as a sickness or disease, like I was broken. In their minds, they thought they could heal me. They thought we could pray this away.” Bardsley eventually left Oral Roberts as he grew to accept himself and realized, “If I keep going through this therapy, if I keep trying to change who I am, I’m going to kill myself.”

It’s a profoundly ugly history and it’s all lurking underneath the surface of this year’s March Madness. While the NCAA and its media representatives will likely try to turn ORU into an inspirational story, that puffery will only serve to obscure the human rights nightmares that have repeatedly taken place under its watch. The narrative of Oral Roberts as a feel-good story belongs in the same place as its honor code: the dustbin of history.

Instead, if Oral Roberts wants to pull off a real upset, they can start letting LGBTQ students live their lives freely.

If you are considering suicide, LGBTQ youth (ages 24 and younger) can reach the Trevor Project Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386. Adults can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 24 hours a day, and it’s available to people of all ages and identities. Trans or gender-nonconforming people can reach Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860.


Oral Roberts' surprising Sweet Sixteen run will almost certainly have real-world repercussions that harm LGBTQ+ youth

As a result of reaching the third round of the NCAA men's tournament, both the Razorbacks and the Golden Eagles have earned roughly $5 million for their school's athletic programs, per The Washington Post. The winner stands to rake in even more money.

Plus, schools whose teams make runs in March Madness, particularly "Cinderellas" like the Golden Eagles, typically see a significant boost in applications during the following year's admissions cycle. And a February 2021 Gallup poll indicates that approximately 16% of Generation Z – the age group currently applying to college – identify as LGBTQ+, with many more likely to come out over time.

Oral Roberts players celebrate their NCAA men's tournament upset.
AP Photo/Robert Franklin

It follows, then, that a portion of Oral Roberts' extra applications stemming from the basketball team's surprising tournament success will belong to queer kids. Like Bardsley, those queer kids would almost certainly be subjected to conversion therapy if they end up at Oral Roberts. And if they're subjected to conversion therapy, they're far more likely to experience suicidality – and, ultimately, more likely to die.

These are the real-world ramifications of giving Oral Roberts a stage of this magnitude. And to pretend that the Golden Eagles' accomplishments on the hardwood took place in a vacuum is not just naive but also negligent and dangerous.

Oral Roberts University did not reply to Insider's multiple requests for comment.


Watch the video: Oral Roberts. What Is Faith. Austin, TX 1957. Jacksonville, FL 1955. Heroes Of The Faith


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