The criticism is deserving — Roberts was a fraud and a liar. For evidence, look no further than a 1987 article from Christianity Today:
This time, according to Roberts, God is taking the initiative. Roberts has stated in a fund-raising appeal letter and on television that unless he raises a total of $8 million above regular ministry expenses by next month, he will die.
“I desperately need you to come into agreement with me concerning my life being extended beyond March,” states a fund-raising letter signed by Roberts.
Hanna Rosin at Slate explains Roberts’ place in Christian history:
It was Oral Roberts who perfected the screaming and begging for money onstage and paved the way for the televangelist hustlers of the ’90s: Jimmy and Tammy Faye Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Benny Hinn.
Not everyone deserves respect when they die, and when someone lived to make himself (and his ministry) rich off of gullible religious people, I don’t have much sympathy.
You could say the same thing about Jerry Falwell. I don’t recall atheists saying anything kind about him when he died, and I understand why.
Long after Mother Teresa died, Christopher Hitchens still called her “a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud.”
I would think when Rick Warren dies, the focus from atheists will be on his bigoted stance against equal rights for gay people.
When Joel Osteen — probably the least “offensive” of the megachurch pastors — dies, we’ll talk about his promotion of the baseless and deceitful prosperity gospel.
When Ted Haggard dies… well, you know.
So I wonder:
Is there any “full-time” Christian whose death wouldn’t evoke negative commentary from atheists?
Is there any Christian whose death would actually make you sad?
I’m not talking about a great scientist, say, who also happened to be a Christian. I’m talking about people who were best known for their faith.
I’m sure there must be some — but I feel like many atheists, especially online, feel the need to criticize every person who dies who was closely associated with their religion.
Does their strong faith disqualify them from getting respect from atheists?