Pioneer televangelist Oral Roberts dies at 91

Brought Pentecostals into the mainstream
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 Holi ness 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.”

 

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