At least three Better Business Bureaus in Canada have alerted the public to high-pressure financial appeals made by television evangelist Rex Humbard.

Paul Tuz, president of the Toronto Better Business Bureau, has charged that a recent series of Humbard appeal letters apply excessive pressure, especially on the elderly. In recent telecasts, the Akron, Ohio-based evangelist has urged supporters to obey his instructions given in “faith-building” letters.

The letters include an array of items, including “holy Bible anointing oil,” a “blessed-by-prayer” cloth cross, and Mexican coins. Accompanying them are urgent appeals for funds and assurances that a generous giver will be richly rewarded.

Bob Dailey, a minister with the Rex Humbard Foundation, declined to address the criticisms directly. However, he said Humbard has videotaped a response to the Canadian Better Business Bureaus’ criticisms. The response is scheduled to be broadcast this month on about 10 Canadian television stations.

Some senior citizens told the Toronto Better Business Bureau that they faced a dilemma because, in spite of the hardship to them, they felt obligated to send their Canada Pension checks (similar to Social Security) to Humbard. “Most of the calls were not complaints,” Tuz said. “They were, ‘What am I going to do? I must send my biggest check to Rex Humbard.’ ”

One letter from Humbard contained a packet of vegetable oil which the evangelist described as “holy Bible anointing oil.” The letter said the oil was to be used “to turn God’s healing and prospering blessings on in your life.

“Make a cross on your forehead with it [the oil]; then by faith go to a room by yourself and take out any money you have and make a cross on each bill,” the letter instructed. “Do this in faith for God to heal your money problems. Anoint your checkbook if you have one.” Finally, Humbard’s letter asked his supporters to mail the “largest bills [currency] or check you have.… Give God your largest and best, and ask Him for His largest and best.” He concluded by assuring supporters that “God’s Spirit is in this letter.”

Another letter contained a red, blessed-by-prayer cloth cross, which supporters were instructed to place in their billfolds or pockets for 22 hours. Recipients were told that “your Scripture for this week” was Matthew 11:22. That passage reads: “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” After keeping the cloth cross in their billfold or pocket for no more than 22 hours, they were told to take it out and mail it—with money—to Humbard. “The greater the sacrifice, the greater the blessing,” he assured them.

A third letter included two Mexican coins worth about six-tenths of a cent. Recipients were asked to wrap their largest bill around one of the coins and rush the coin and the Canadian currency to Humbard.

On television, the evangelist has warned of the impending financial collapse of his ministry. However, in one of his appeal letters, he wrote that “it seems like revival has hit and that God is blessing everything I touch lately.”

LESLIE K. TARRin Toronto

Citing Another Vision From God, Roberts Opens His Medical Complex To The Poor

Many have wondered what to make of Oral Roberts’s claims of visitations from Jesus. In 1980, Roberts said Jesus—standing 900 feet tall—assured him that his huge medical complex, known as the City of Faith, would be completed. Last year Roberts told of a seven-hour revelation in which God promised a breakthrough in cancer treatment at the City of Faith.

Recently, the 66-year-old evangelist told his television audience about another supernatural meeting, this time with Jesus and an angel. Roberts first spoke about the visit two months ago during a sermon at Victory Christian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He said Jesus and the angel appeared in his hospital room at the City of Faith, not long after Roberts had undergone surgery for nasal polyps. Roberts said the angel was “so tall his head touched the ceiling. He was three times wide. I can’t describe how huge and massive he was.”

The evangelist said the angel spoke to him “in words I’ve never read, I’ve never heard.… The angel said to me, ‘… I’m going to seed-faith the City of Faith. I’m going to open it to the poor of the world.’ ” Roberts reported that before the angel spoke to him, Jesus told him he would bless Roberts’s financial supporters if they would help Roberts serve the poor.

Critics have charged that Roberts’s visions are born more out of expediency than divine intervention. The recently reported vision comes at a time when Roberts’s ministry is struggling financially, due mainly to a low patient load at the City of Faith hospital (CT, Aug. 10, 1984, p. 46). The low patient load has threatened the accreditation status of the Oral Roberts University (ORU) medical school. City of Faith officials had discussed providing increased care for the poor for about eight months prior to Roberts’s most recently reported vision.

Tim Colwell, the medical center’s public relations director, said Roberts’s employees don’t question the evangelist’s sincerity or the legitimacy of his visions. “However God appears to Oral Roberts is between Oral and God,” he said. “The important thing is that caring for the poor is scriptural.”

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Colwell said that since the City of Faith began to seek out poor persons who need medical treatment, its patient load has risen from about 80 to nearly 120 per day. Only about half of the increase is attributable to indigent patients, he said. The City of Faith’s goal is to increase its patient load to 150 per day in time for a meeting with accreditation officials late this month.

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