Barack Obama Unequivocably Cuts Ties to Ex-Pastor

Earlier this morning, Barack Obama closely reviewed excerpts from Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s reckless and freewheeling speech that was given at The National Press Club breakfast on Monday morning in Washington. Deeply and visibly angry, Obama insisted upon holding a second press conference about Wright today in Winston-Salem (NC) in order to unequivocally denounce Rev. Wright’s conduct, as well as to to completely sever himself from his ex-pastor’s tirades. I have waited to post about this matter. In the meantime, mainstream and blogger pundits already have rushed to fill the print and internet media with clairvoyant mind-readings and armchair psychobabble about Obama’s comments today. As for myself, this ongoing affair has bolstered my own conviction that it is not a matter of simple antiquarianism that we should always be mindful of our Founders concern for a separation of Church and State, and of the dangers inherent in allowing that distinction to become more and more obscure.

Marc Ambinder provided an accurate summary of Obama’s Winston-Salem comments this afternoon in The Atlantic Magazine:

The person that I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago,” Obama said. “His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate, and I believe that they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church. They certainly don’t portray accurately my values and beliefs… If Reverend Wright thinks that’s political posturing, as he put it, then he doesn’t know me very well and based on his remarks yesterday, I may not know him as well as I thought either.”

I gave him the benefit of the doubt in my speech in Philadelphia, explaining that he has done enormous good in the church,” he said. “But when he states and then amplifies such ridiculous propositions as the U.S. government somehow being involved in AIDS; when he suggests that Minister Farrakhan somehow represents one of the greatest voices of the 20th and 21st century; when he equates the U.S. wartime efforts with terrorism – then there are no excuses. They offend me. They rightly offend all Americans. And they should be denounced, and that’s what I’m doing very clearly and unequivocally here today.”

It is antithetical to my campaign. It is antithetical to what I’m about. It is not what I think America stands for,” he said.

Ambinder concluded his summary by noting that, “Obama has denounced Wright’s remarks before. But in the past, Obama gave Wright “the benefit of the doubt“–i.e., said he considered such remarks aberrations, outliers, deviations not in keeping with the sermons that he himself had heard over his two decades at Trinity. Now, according to Obama, Wright’s willingness to repeat such “ridiculous propositions”–in effect, “caricaturing himself”–has led him to the conclusion that either Wright has changed or that he was wrong about the minister all along. “Based on his remarks yesterday,” said Obama. “I may not know him as well as I thought.” By acting nutty in public, in other words, Wright gave Obama the license to openly say in public, “I now see why all of you think he’s nutty.”

Barack Obama Renounces Ex-Pastor Wright

I strongly encourage viewers to read an article by Peggy Noonan about her overall impressions of the current state of the presidential race, which was published last Friday in The Wall Street Journal and can be accessed here.

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In the Name of Faith and Love: For The Bible Tells Me So

In the Name of Faith and Love: For The Bible Tells Me So

An NPR Audio Discussion of For The Bible Tells Me So:

The Bible is the word of God through the word of human beings, speaking in the idiom of their time, and the richness of the Bible comes from the fact that we don’t take it as literally so that it was dictated by God,” Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

Can the love between two people ever truly be an abomination? Is the schism that separates gay and lesbian persons from Christianity destined to be always too wide to cross? How can the Bible be used to justify hatred? These are the questions that are at the heart of For The Bible Tells Me So, an exploration of the religious right’s use of the Bible to justify shutting gay and lesbian people out of the faiths into which they’ve been born and in which they’ve grown up. One of the central figures in For The Bible Tells Me So is Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the first-ever openly gay man to be elected a Bishop of the Episcopalian Church. Robinson’s consecration in 2003 (at which he had to wear a bullet-proof vest due to death threats against him) was a historical occasion, but also one that caused a rift within the Episcopal church. On a more personal level, the consecration was the quintessential moment of the path on which Robinson had first embarked some 20 years earlier when, with the support of his then-wife, Isabella, he came out of the closet after years of attempting to live as a straight man and seeking counseling to rid himself of his “gay feelings.”

The film explores, with various historians and religious figures, including Robinson and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the use of the Bible in the religous right’s attempts to portray gay and lesbian people as being abominations against God and nature. The film seeks to both put a face on the issue of religion and gay life, and to give people dealing with family and friends who rely upon the same old Bible verses about gays a Biblical perspective of their own from which to respond. But at its heart this is a film not about historical Biblical theory, but about the real lives of families with gay and lesbian sons and daughters, and how they have reconciled their faith with their love for their children.

It also narrates the story of Chrissy Gephardt, who finally came out as a lesbian to her family just as her father, former House minority leader Richard Gephardt, was about to embark on his campaign for the Presidency. Chrissy talks about enduring a sexless marriage to a man before falling in love with a lesbian friend, admitting the truth about herself, coming out and eventually joining her father on the campaign trail, with his support and encouragement.

The film also introduces the Poteats, an African-American family in which both parents are preachers still struggling to accept that their daughter, Tonia, is a lesbian. David Poteat, Tonia’s father, says in the film that when his children (a son and a daughter) were growing up, “I said God, please don’t let my son grow up to be a faggot and my daughter a slut.” He chuckles ironically and adds, “And he did not. He did not do that. He reversed it.” The Poteat family story resonates with the unmistakable sounds of truth, love, and pain. These are parents who have struggled to accept their daughter as a lesbian, but still love her immensely and have never cut off their relationship with her. But the Poteats aren’t all the way there yet. Tonia speaks longingly of a day when her parents would willingly and gladly come to her wedding with her partner. But at least they are working on it, and they haven’t rejected their daughter.

The film avoids demonizing the religious right, instead simply holding up the families who are at the heart of the story and saying: Here they are. These are the gay people you so fear, and they are your sons and daughters, your brothers and sisters, the neighbors you’ve known for years. It speaks to the central point of the religious right’s objection to homosexuality without attacking those who hold those beliefs.

For The Bible Tells Me So made its world premiere in competition at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. The film was also honored with Audience Awards at the 2007 Seattle and Provincetown International Film Festivals and The Kathleen Bryan Edwards Award for Human Rights at the 2007 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. This provocative, entertaining film concisely reconciles homosexuality and a literal interpretation of Biblical scripture. It offers healing, clarity and understanding to anyone who desperately feels caught in the crosshairs of scripture and sexual identity.

For The Bible Tells Me So

There were many responses to the classroom killing of Larry King in Oxnard, California, and the ongoing violence against gay people that it so tragically represented, which included the now well-known statement that was made by Ellen DeGeneres on her television program. Be A Voice Against Violence is a Public Service Announcement video calling for all of us to take a stand against violence. The video includes appearances by Ashanti, Andre 3000, TR Knight, and Janet Jackson and was also created in response to the Larry King murder:

Be A Voice Against Violence

Remember The National Day of Silence on April 25, 2008. This year, The National Day of Silence is dedicated to the memory of Lawrence King:

The Day of Silence: Dedicated to the Memory of Lawrence King

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The Oral Roberts University Uproar Escalates: Charges Become Lascivious

 

Richard Roberts 

UPDATE:

Richard L. Roberts announced today (Wednesday, October 17, 2007) that he was stepping down indefinitely as President of Oral Roberts University, after weeks of accusations that he used university resources to back a local politician and to lavish extravagances on his family. His announcement comes just eight days after Roberts adamantly stated on national television: “I have not done anything wrong for which I needed to step aside.” I pray and believe that in God’s timing, and when the board feels that it is appropriate, I will be back at my post as president,” Mr. Roberts said, according to a transcript posted by the Tulsa World.

The riveting saga began on October 2, when three former professors at Oral Roberts sued Mr. Roberts and the university, accusing him of pressuring them to work on a local political campaign. The suit also claimed that the professors had been harassed and intimidated after they accidentally came upon a document that purported to list dozens of instances of financial and ethical misconduct committed by Mr. Roberts and his wife, Lindsay Roberts.

According to that document, among many other accusations, Mr. and Ms. Roberts gave out scholarships to friends of the family, and in an allegation that became public only last week, Ms. Roberts repeatedly brought underage men to spend the night with her.

You will find extensive coverage of the lawsuit, the development of the whole legal saga, videos and slideshows here.

ORU’s “Praying Hands”: For God or More Money?

Three former Oral Roberts University professors made public on Friday what their lawsuit against Oral Roberts University describes as “the exact packet of information” that they allege got two of them fired and resulted in one’s resignation. Previous versions of the lawsuit contained only a summary of the report, which was partially written by the sister-in-law of ORU’s President Richard Roberts.

The full, unsubstantiated report now attached to the professors’ lawsuit now contains new charges that Lindsay Roberts, Richard Roberts’ wife, spent the night in a university guest house with an underage male nine times, was photographed 29 times in her car with an underage male after midnight and after minors’ curfew, visited Victory Christian School with an underage male 81 times in 2004, smoked with an underage male at her house and repeatedly moved her “male 16-year-old friend” into her family’s house.

The amended lawsuit also contains a new defendant, The Board of Regents of Oral Roberts University, as well as two new legal claims. The professors now claim that the board has neglected to properly oversee ORU, Richard Roberts and administrators. The lawsuit claims that Vice-Provost Jeff Ogle sexually harassed a professor, who was allegedly forced to resign while Ogle was promoted. The lawsuit also claims that the university and Richard Roberts gave “a convicted sexual deviant unrestricted access to the students of the university.” The unidentified man was a “mentor” to ORU students and had confessed to “exposing himself to a 15-year-old boy in a school locker room.” “This further demonstrates the board’s wanton and arrogant disregard for the safety of the students under its care,” the lawsuit states.

Further, the former professors claim that ORU and Richard Roberts fired the school’s financial comptroller just three days after they filed their lawsuit, then proceeded to destroyed “voluminous materials and documents . . . constituting spoilation of evidence

Additionally, the ex-professors claim that Oral Roberts University, the board and administrators conspired to fire them, did so and then “instituted a smear campaign” against them. The lawsuit charges that at least one conspiracy meeting happened on ORU’s plane, which is leased from Tulsa Jet Management, whose president is Tulsa City Councilor Bill Christiansen. The ex-professors are each still asking for actual damages in excess of $10,000 and punitive damages in excess of $10,000.

Interested readers will find a detailed report of these new charges in The Tulsa World here.

Earlier in the week, I reported here about the scandal that was emerging at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa (OK). In that article, I wrote:

“Twenty years ago, on his widely viewed national televsion program, televangelist Oral Roberts announced to his viewers that he had been reading a spy novel when, all of a sudden, God visited him and ordered him to raise $8 million for Roberts’ university, or else he would be “called home.” Of course, not wanting that to happen, Roberts’ viewers showered him with vast amounts of money for the university.

Last Tuesday, three former professors at Oral Roberts University sued the evangelical institution in Tulsa (OK), filing a petition in state court that accuses the university’s current president, Oral Roberts’ son Richard L. Roberts, of using university resources to back a local mayoral candidate and to bankroll an extravagant lifestyle for his family. The lawsuit also says that university administrators tried to cover up the president’s involvement in the mayoral campaign when the Internal Revenue Service began investigating the nonprofit institution’s interventions into local politics.

The university immediately issued brief a statement regarding the lawsuit on Tuesday that read, in its entirety, “It is important for ORU students and their families, faculty and staff, alumni, partners as well as the general public to understand that this lawsuit is largely premised upon a compilation of incomplete statements, unsubstantiated rumors, and innuendoes. ORU will address these allegations through the legal process.”

Later in the week, Oral Roberts University President Richard Roberts, announced that God had recently visited him as well, ordering him to deny all of the lurid allegations that are contained in a lawsuit that threatens to bury this 44-year-old Bible Belt college in scandal. As mentioned before, Roberts is accused of illegal involvement in a local political campaign and extravagant spending at the university’s donors’ expense, lavish spending that has included numerous home remodeling projects, use of the university’s jet for his daughter’s senior trip to the Bahamas, and a red Mercedes convertible and Lexus SUV for his wife, Lindsay. She, in turn, is being accused of squandering tens of thousands of dollars on clothes, awarding nonacademic scholarships to friends of her children and sending scores of text messages on university-issued cell phones to people described in the lawsuit as ‘underage males.'”

Ralph Blumenthal reports in today’s edition of the New York Times that Mr. Roberts was on “Larry King Live” on Tuesday night with his wife, Lindsay, who is also included in the accusations. He denied having taken any improper political role, saying: “I didn’t ask or coerce anybody. That’s not true.” He and Mrs. Roberts also denied wrongdoing to a list of other accusations in the suit. Denials were also made to reporters who flew to New York with the Robertses in the university’s jet.

The original CNN news report on The Oral Roberts Lawsuit, as well as this Tuesday night’s “Larry King Live” television interviews with Richard and Lindsay Roberts are presented below:

CNN News: The Oral Roberts University Lawsuit

Larry King Live: Richard and Lindsay Roberts Defend Themselves (Pt. 1)

Larry King Live: The Roberts’ Defense (Pt. 2)

UPDATE:

On Thursday (10/11/2007), David Kuo published a detailed response at Belief.net to the statements that were made by the Roberts’ while defending themselves during their television appearance on “Larry King Live.” In general, their statements were characterized as half truths and outright lies, nothing more than an attempt to conceal the facts of what has actually been going on at Oral Roberts University behind a deceptive display of smoke and mirrors. Readers will find the particulars of the rebuttal that David Kuo has published here.

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Articles from Thursday, October 11, 2007

What’s It All About? It’s about every breath you take. I’ll be watching you. Beautiful, colorful photographs and a memorable music video are included. Reawakening feelings of reminiscence, affection and hope.

[tags: Every Breath You Take, photographs, music, gay, love, hope, video]

Tormented Barbie was found in a state of terrible distress!! Discovered suffering from complete exhaustion, obviously having been forced into menial labor while tethered to a huge, oily construction rig in mid-town Manhattan.

It’s documented by this absolutely stunning photograph, presented in colorful high-resolution. Look and see for yourself!!

[tags: Photo of the Day, Photograph of the Day, photograph, Barbie in Distress, New York City, humor]

Three Oral Roberts University professors have sued the evangelical university’s president, Richard Roberts, claiming he used ORU resources for politics and to fund his lavish life style. They also say administrators impeded an IRS probe. Tuesday, Roberts appeared on “Larry King Live” to defend himself.

Photographs and videos of that show are provided.

[tags: Oral Roberts University, Oral Roberts University scandal, Richard Roberts, news, religion, Larry King Live, celebrities, videos]

See the Rest of My Articles at Blue Dot

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God Expelled from Tulsa Magic Kingdom: Oral Roberts University Saga Continues

Richard Roberts and his ORU Private Jet

ORU’s “Praying Hands”: For God or More Money?

Earlier in the week, I reported here about the scandal that was emerging at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa (OK). In that article, I wrote:

“Twenty years ago, on his widely viewed national televsion program, televangelist Oral Roberts announced to his viewers that he had been reading a spy novel when, all of a sudden, God visited him and ordered him to raise $8 million for Roberts’ university, or else he would be “called home.” Of course, not wanting that to happen, Roberts’ viewers showered him with vast amounts of money for the university.

Last Tuesday, three former professors at Oral Roberts University sued the evangelical institution in Tulsa (OK), filing a petition in state court that accuses the university’s current president, Oral Roberts’ son Richard L. Roberts, of using university resources to back a local mayoral candidate and to bankroll an extravagant lifestyle for his family. The lawsuit also says that university administrators tried to cover up the president’s involvement in the mayoral campaign when the Internal Revenue Service began investigating the nonprofit institution’s interventions into local politics.

The university immediately issued brief a statement regarding the lawsuit on Tuesday that read, in its entirety, “It is important for ORU students and their families, faculty and staff, alumni, partners as well as the general public to understand that this lawsuit is largely premised upon a compilation of incomplete statements, unsubstantiated rumors, and innuendoes. ORU will address these allegations through the legal process.”

Later in the week, Oral Roberts University President Richard Roberts, announced that God had recently visited him as well, ordering him to deny all of the lurid allegations that are contained in a lawsuit that threatens to bury this 44-year-old Bible Belt college in scandal. As mentioned before, Roberts is accused of illegal involvement in a local political campaign and extravagant spending at the university’s donors’ expense, lavish spending that has included numerous home remodeling projects, use of the university’s jet for his daughter’s senior trip to the Bahamas, and a red Mercedes convertible and Lexus SUV for his wife, Lindsay. She, in turn, is being accused of squandering tens of thousands of dollars on clothes, awarding nonacademic scholarships to friends of her children and sending scores of text messages on university-issued cell phones to people described in the lawsuit as ‘underage males.'”

Ralph Blumenthal reports in today’s edition of the New York Times that Mr. Roberts was on “Larry King Live” on Tuesday night with his wife, Lindsay, who is also included in the accusations. He denied having taken any improper political role, saying: “I didn’t ask or coerce anybody. That’s not true.” He and Mrs. Roberts also denied wrongdoing to a list of other accusations in the suit. Denials were also made to reporters who flew to New York with the Robertses in the university’s jet.

The original CNN news report on The Oral Roberts Lawsuit, as well as this Tuesday night’s “Larry King Live” television interviews with Richard and Lindsay Roberts are presented below:

CNN News: The Oral Roberts University Lawsuit

Larry King Live: Richard and Lindsay Roberts Defend Themselves (Pt. 1)

Larry King Live: The Roberts’ Defense (Pt. 2)

UPDATE:

On Thursday (10/11/2007), David Kuo published a detailed response at Belief.net to the statements that were made by the Roberts’ while defending themselves during their television appearance on “Larry King Live.” In general, their statements were characterized as half truths and outright lies, nothing more than an attempt to conceal the facts of what has actually been going on at Oral Roberts University behind a deceptive display of smoke and mirrors. Readers will find the particulars of the rebuttal that David Kuo has published here.

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God is Ousted from his Tulsa Magic Kingdom: The Oral Roberts University Scandal

Praying Hands: For God or More Money?

Twenty years ago, on his widely viewed national televsion program, televangelist Oral Roberts announced to his viewers that he had been reading a spy novel when, all of a sudden, God visited him and ordered him to raise $8 million for Roberts’ university, or else he would be “called home.” Of course, not wanting that to happen, Roberts’ viewers showered him with vast amounts of money for the university.

Last Tuesday, three former professors at Oral Roberts University sued the evangelical institution in Tulsa (OK), filing a petition in state court that accuses the university’s current president, Oral Roberts’ son Richard L. Roberts, of using university resources to back a local mayoral candidate and to bankroll an extravagant lifestyle for his family. The lawsuit also says that university administrators tried to cover up the president’s involvement in the mayoral campaign when the Internal Revenue Service began investigating the nonprofit institution’s interventions into local politics.

The university immediately issued brief a statement regarding the lawsuit on Tuesday that read, in its entirety, “It is important for ORU students and their families, faculty and staff, alumni, partners as well as the general public to understand that this lawsuit is largely premised upon a compilation of incomplete statements, unsubstantiated rumors, and innuendoes. ORU will address these allegations through the legal process.”

Later in the week, Oral Roberts University President Richard Roberts, announced that God had recently visited him as well, ordering him to deny all of the lurid allegations that are contained in a lawsuit that threatens to bury this 44-year-old Bible Belt college in scandal. As mentioned before, Roberts is accused of illegal involvement in a local political campaign and extravagant spending at the university’s donors’ expense, lavish spending that has included numerous home remodeling projects, use of the university’s jet for his daughter’s senior trip to the Bahamas, and a red Mercedes convertible and Lexus SUV for his wife, Lindsay. She, in turn, is being accused of squandering tens of thousands of dollars on clothes, awarding nonacademic scholarships to friends of her children and sending scores of text messages on university-issued cell phones to people described in the lawsuit as “underage males.”

Roberts’ announcement came during a chapel service last week on the 5,300-student campus known for its 60-foot-tall bronze sculpture of praying hands. He told the assembled students and faculty members God had personally advised him that, “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.” One member of the university’s Board of Regents, San Antonio televangelist John Hagee, said that, “The university’s executive board is conducting a full and thorough investigation.”

Colleagues of the three professors claiming wrongful dismissal for giving a report of Richard Roberts’ misconduct, now fear for the reputation of the university and the future of the Roberts’ ministry, which grew from Southern tent revivals to one of the most successful evangelical empires in the country, hauling in tens of millions of dollars in contributions a year. For example, the university reported nearly $76 million in revenue in 2005, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

The 89 year-old Oral Roberts now lives in California, but he still holds the position of chancellor of Oral Roberts University. However, the university describes him as semi-retired, and his son presides over day-to-day operations on the campus. The university’s campus, which had a modern, space-age design when it was first constructed in the early 1960s, now looks strangely outdated, not unlike Disney’s Tomorrowland in The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Orlando (FL).

Some students are thinking about transferring to another school, because the scandal has “severely devalued and hurt the reputation of [their degrees].” “We have asked and asked and asked to see the finances of our school and what they’re doing with our money, and we’ve been told no,” said one of those students. “Now we know why. As a student, I’m not going to stand for it any longer.”

The allegations are contained in a lawsuit filed Tuesday by three former professors who are suing Oral Roberts University and Richard Roberts, claiming that they were wrongfully dismissed after reporting the school’s involvement in a local political race. According to the suit, in 2005 Roberts asked a professor to use his students and university resources to aid a county commissioner’s bid for Tulsa mayor. Such involvement would violate state and federal law because of the university’s nonprofit status. Up to 50 students are alleged to have worked on the campaign.

The professors also said their dismissals came after they turned over to the board of regents a copy of a report that documented the moral and ethical lapses on the part of Roberts and his family. That report alleged dozens of alleged instances of misconduct, including:

  • A longtime maintenance employee was fired so that an underage male friend of Mrs. Roberts could have his position.
  • Mrs. Roberts, who is a member of the Board of Regents and is referred to as ORU’s “first lady” on the university’s website, frequently had cell-phone bills of more than $800 per month, with hundreds of text messages sent between 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. to “underage males who had been provided phones at university expense.”
  • The university’s jet was used to take one daughter and several friends on a senior trip to Orlando, Fla., and the Bahamas. The $29,411 trip was billed to the ministry as an “evangelistic function of the president.”
  • Mrs. Roberts spent more than $39,000 at one Chico’s clothing store alone in less than a year, and had other accounts in Texas and California. She also repeatedly said, “As long as I wear it once on TV, we can charge it off.” The document cites inconsistencies in clothing purchases and actual usage on TV.
  • Mrs. Roberts was given a white Lexus SUV and a red Mercedes convertible by ministry donors.
  • University and ministry employees are regularly summoned to the Roberts’ home to do the daughters’ homework.
  • The university and ministry maintain a stable of horses for exclusive use by the Roberts’ children.
  • The Roberts’ home has been remodeled 11 times in the past 14 years.

Tim Brooker, one of the professors who sued, said he that fears for the university’s survival if certain changes aren’t made. “All over that campus, there are signs up that say, ‘And God said, build me a university, build it on my authority, and build it on the Holy Spirit,'” Brooker said.

Unfortunately, it seems that the ownership of the university has shifted.

The Oral Roberts University Scandal

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