Christian evangelist Oral Roberts, who died today at age 91, often gets lumped in with Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson by those who don’t know any better and assume he was a leading member of the Religious Right in the 1970s and 80s. But while Roberts was of the same generation as the other men, he was never involved with politics as they were. Instead, Roberts was one of the first televangelists, and he spent most of his life leading crusades and building the university that bears his name.
If the evangelist is known widely, it is because of a famous plea he made to supporters in 1987, warning them through tears that God would “call me home” unless he raised $8 million for the university. The plea reportedly resulted in $9.1 million in donations–in any case, Roberts stayed healthy and alive.
Billy Graham, who was a close contemporary of Roberts, released a statement noting that he had talked to the televangelist three weeks ago and that Roberts told him “he was at the end of his life’s journey.” This time, his prediction was no fundraising effort.