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Oral Roberts Program May Be Blacked Out Here Sunday

January 16, 1987|DENNIS McDOUGAL | Times Staff Writer

Oral Roberts may have gone too far in his demands for donations and could be blacked out this Sunday morning, according to the one Los Angeles television station that carries his program.

For the last two weeks, the Oklahoma television evangelist has been informing his viewers that he will die if they don't contribute $4.5 million to his ministry by March. His Sunday morning program is carried by 200 stations nationally, including KHJ-TV Channel 9.

KHJ programming director Walt Baker told The Times on Thursday that Roberts' contention that he will be "called home by God" if he doesn't raise $8 million in scholarship funds for his Tulsa-based medical school by March will be edited out of this week's show, if Roberts repeats that claim. As of last week, Roberts said he had raised $3.5 million of the $8 million.

"We've carried the program for a long time and we've had no problem with it," Baker said. "Mr. Roberts does a very fine job and I think this problem is overblown.

"But we just don't believe that this is in the best public interest in this case."

Baker said the half-hour show, which airs at 9 a.m., is pre-recorded and that a tape of it should arrive at KHJ no later than today. He said his staff will review it and call Roberts' production staff in Tulsa if anything has to be edited out.

Roberts, who will be 69 next week, has used flamboyant and controversial claims to raise funds for his Oral Roberts University complex in Tulsa before.

In 1980, the fundamentalist preacher urged his followers to contribute several million dollars to his City of Faith Hospital on grounds that he had a vision of a 900-foot-tall Jesus Christ who ordered him to build the hospital.

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