The Rev. Oral Roberts' statement that he has raised people from the dead brought snickers from some nonbelievers, but apparently he is not the only one who has been doing it.
The Rev. Felix Doberman of the "TV Temple in the Shady Glen" claims to have raised souls from the dead long before Oral vowed to go to heaven if church members didn't send in their dues.
I asked Doberman how he raises people from the dead.
He said, "First I lay my hands on them, and then say 'Everybody up!' "
"That's all it takes?"
"That and a hefty donation to the 'TV Temple in the Shady Glen.' I can't bring anyone back to life if he's not willing to support our electronic congregation."
"How many dead have you raised?"
"At least 1,000 in the live audience. There are a lot I've raised who were watching me on television, so all I can do is take their word for it -- plus whatever donation they want to make. I've known of so many miracles you wouldn't believe it. I've heard of men and women stretched out in their coffins who rose and danced as soon as my son made his initial pitch for money."
"Where did you get the idea to use bringing back the dead as a fundraiser?"
"I'm always consulting God on how to get fresh funding. He told me there is nothing that excites people more than coming back to life."
"Do you think Oral Roberts really brought many parishioners back?"
"Oral is a good ol' Oklahoma boy, and the way he's been acting lately I believe anything he says. What worries me is that there are too many ministers claiming they can raise the dead. When they see there is money in it, all the TV evangelists are going to be claiming they can do it, and professionals like myself and Oral will be competing with frauds."
"Perhaps they should hand out licenses to trained faith healers like yourselves."
"That would mix church and state and restrict donations from secular humanists. Frankly I think Oral should have kept his mouth shut. He was raising a lot of dead and no one knew about it. Now it's a big story and you can't tell the ones who have the touch from those who don't."
"Are Jimmy and Tammy Bakker into dead raising?" I asked.
"Not that anyone remembers. Jimmy raised a lot of other things though, and there is some question as to where the money went. As for Tammy, she said if Jimmy did it she'll forgive him."
"Certainly the Rev. Jerry Falwell hasn't raised anyone from the dead."
"No, he hasn't, though he's trying to do it with the PTL Club."
"No, because with the PTL we're talking about something that is really dead, and there is no way of bringing it back."
"Has Jimmy Swaggart ever raised anyone from the dead?"
"No, but he's sent an awful lot of people to hell. Jimmy tells his audience to either give money or drop dead."