Date: Friday, April 22, 1994 11:26am
Sooner or later, you knew it was bound to happen: When a ministry is out of control, tales of sexual indiscretion invariably arise. And as it was with Jim Bakker, so it is with Bob Larson.
The Bob Larson story has moved forward at a remarkably rapid pace in recent weeks, and developments have not been kind to him. Jay Grelen has subtly raised the issue of Larson's purportedly intimate relation ship with a former lieutenant, Margo Hamilton. We determined where he was ordained, and lodged a challenge as to his fitness to remain as a minister. His flagship affiliate, Denver's KLTT, was sold to an orga nization which has inside knowledge concerning his improprieties. His marriage to Laura, his new trophy wife, is said to be failing. All in all, October of 1993 was not a good month to be Bob.
But on November 1st, he had a vision.
Bobby Does Damage Control
As a rule, the Christian community takes a remarkably blase attitude toward financial scandals -- but the moment that sex is mentioned, all bets are off. In its' September 13, 1993 edition, Christianity Today reported on Bob Canella's claim that IBN director Pam Koczman sexually harassed him. CT reporter Timothy Morgan seized that opportunity to make additional allusions concerning Bonnie Bell's untimely departure, and Larson's reputation for abusing his employees.1
Whether for good or ill, when CT speaks, the evangelical community listens; Larson was compelled to respond. But as evidenced from these excerpts from the Ministry's press release, Larson was clearly playing a larger game:
"POSITION STATEMENT ON SEPTEMBER 13 CHRISTIANITY TODAY ARTICLE:
Bob Larson and the Board of Bob Larson Ministries (BLM) ada mantly deny the allegations set forth in the September 13th edition of Christianity Today. The article is the latest in a series of character assassination attempts against Mr. Larson and the staff of BLM. It primarily centers around a complaint by a disgruntled, discharged former employee.
5. Because of numerous threats (on file with authorities) on Mr. Larson's life and property, access to the office of BLM is highly restricted for the protection of both Mr. Larson and members of the BLM staff."2
Larson would like his avid, check-writing fans to draw the inference that witches, Satanists, neo-Fascists, and other assorted dregs of the galaxy are constantly harassing him. Yet, in those rare3 instances where he even bothers to report an incident to the police, Larson prefers instead to finger "past disgruntled employees."
For instance, Talk-Back listeners might recall that, on his January 29 broadcast, Larson related one particularly "vicious" threat to his life and property:
"The threats, Bonnie, as you and the other people that work with me know, have gotten so vicious. They recently sent me a large color photograph of several people who are a part of this group. Standing on the front steps of my private property on which they trespassed -- the front steps of my home -- hold- ing a flaming Molotov cocktail, threatening to burn down the house with obscene language printed on the photograph."4
So who did Larson identify as the prime suspects in this nefarious deed? The Coven? The Horses of Illinois? Glen Benton? Evidently, that thought never crossed his mind. Also noticeable by their absence is the Denver-Area Witches Network, and the various sundry Satanic covens which Larson insists are active in the Denver area. His mortal enemies would never harass him, but his former employees -- fine, upstanding Christian citizens, all -- would?
[ No less than three former Ministry employees were mentioned as possible suspects in the police report5: Muriel Olsen, Lori Boespflug, and Connie Beavers. Larson even went so far as to insinuate that the husband of his former office manager was one of the people hiding under the robes.6 Of course, Larson tried to paint me as the mastermind of this absurd plot to destroy him and his ministry -- but, then again, Bob apparently blames me for virtually everything that has gone wrong in his life ... including cancellation of "The Wonder Years." ]
Bob Larson has good reason to fear ex-employees, not so much because they are closet Satanists but rather, because they have sat behind the veil of that den of iniquity. They've watched him in action, and have been shocked by the sheer mendacity of the man. If Bob Larson is what constitutes "God's anointed," they'd just as soon reserve their condos on the River Styx.
Bound by their Christian consciences, they have taken this news' to anyone who would listen. However, fearing for their jobs -- and in my estimation, justifiably so -- they remained anonymous. Unfortunately, they made the colossal mistake of pleading their cases to station own ers and managers who, for the largest part, lent an unsympathetic ear. Good Calvinists that they were, they worshiped frequently at the altar of the Bank of America -- and Larson paid so handsomely that they were inclined to overlook his indiscretions.6a
And Bobby Does Margo?
Ever since Bob and Kathy Larson started having marital difficulties, rumors concerning his alleged infidelity have run rampant. This comment is from "the Salem letters," anonymous correspondence from a BLM staff member to Salem Broadcasting president Ed Atsinger:
"Mr. Larson has had other traveling and bed companions such as Mrs Boespflug, who most likely supposes as the others that she is unique and something special. And she is for the moment. Why not ask Ms Behrens who was his best friend' for four or five years and traveling companion to many 5 star hotels in such places as San Francisco, San Diego, San Francisco, Tucson and Hawaii. You might want to ask her about her last sexual encounter with Mr. Larson where she was overwhelmed with a demonic presence [all sentences in context]."7
While these anonymous allegations -- especially the part of the 'demonic presence' -- seem a bit questionable, it is clear that Larson has had a habit of volutarily placing himself in the positions which lend themselves to a measure of suspicion. A mere business trip to Orlando with his personal secretary would not necessarily be seen as improper, but his November, 1990 visit to Disney World -- with her and her three young girls, while his wife waited at home -- certainly would.8
[ According to Boespflug, Larson showered her with gifts during late 1990 and early 1991, including a diamond frog broach valued at $2,800, a dog she later named "Soks," and $1,250 in cash to pay for furnace repairs. And if, as Larson insists, she had nothing of consequence to do with "his" writing of Dead Air, it only stands to reason that he was in fact actively courting her affections. But let us not forget that he was quite married at the time.]
For the most part, I have refrained from commenting on Larson's pur ported sexual misadventures, on the grounds that charges of infidelity are virtually impossible to prove. However, Jay Grelen's recent World article, "Bob Larson Quits NRB," has brought it to the fore:
"Margo Hamilton, another long-time employee who often trav eled with Larson and spoke at BLM's seminars about satanism, resigned in September 1992. In a telephone conversation with World last week, she said she could not discuss her time at BLM because she signed confi dentiality agreements with Larson. And her husband, in a con versation with World earlier this year, said he too had signed an agreement. He has never worked for the ministry."9
Of course, the obvious question is why Margo's husband would need to sign such an agreement. After all, since they didn't marry until sev eral months after she "resigned," and he had never worked for the min istry, he wasn't in a position to reveal proprietary information. And if he did reveal what Margo told him, that would have been a violation of her confidentiality agreement.
[It is instructive to note that Lori Boespflug's new husband was not asked to sign an agreement, despite the fact that they were engaged to be married at the time of her dismissal. Lori knew as much about Ministry operations as anyone; if Larson had any legitimate concern as to whether BLM's trade secrets would be a probable subject of pillow talk', there is no evidence to that effect.]
In summation, Margo's husband had to know something that Bob Larson didn't want to be known ... and, had nothing to do with the Ministry's internal operations.
That doesn't leave many options.
While it is admittedly circumstantial (and fairly scant), other per tinent evidence supports the hypothesis that Bob and Margo did in fact get physical'. Avid Talk-Back followers may recall the "Breezy incident, "where Bob was kicked in the head by a horse; what is not generally known is that it was Margo's horse, Lena, that kicked him.10 The larger question, of course, is how a mother of three could afford such a bourgeois indulgence on her proletarian $35,000/year11 salary. And one obvious answer is Bob Larson.
It was further reported that in March of 1992, Larson ran an invoice for personal toiletries through his expense account ... including hair spray, Trojans, and Semicid, a female contraceptive.12 Now of course, the hair spray makes some sense, but it is quite difficult to envision Bob Larson handing out condoms on the street corner to sexually-active teens (H la Jocelyn Elders). Thus the question naturally arises as to what an unmarried minister would be doing with contraceptives....
Standing alone, any one of these pieces of evidence can be explained innocently. But taken together, they comprise a fairly strong circum stantial ground for charges of sexual improprieties. The hypothetical reasonable wife', when confronted by comparable evidence, would natu rally start asking a few questions. And she would demand answers.
To this self-confessed unbeliever, the issue of Larson's sex life is as irrelevant as it is uninteresting; I don't see marriage as a sacra ment, but rather, as a partnership. Life is just too short for anyone to be trapped in a miserable marriage. Yet, to my many Christian col leagues, who must by definition let the Scriptures be their guide, the matter is one of grave concern.
In his first letter to Timothy, the seminal text on Church adminis tration, Paul posed this incisive rhetorical question: "If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?"13 In so writing, Paul established stringent standards of conduct for men aspiring to leadership positions within the Church.14 And with good reason: The one common denominator of the Bakker, Swag gart, Hargis, and now, Larson scandals is that, if a man is fundamen tally unfit to honor his 'calling' as a minister of the Gospel, that fact seems invariablly to manifest itself in his private life.
But Can He Do it With Impunity?
Until recently, Bob Larson reportedly believed that he could weather the media firestorm.15 But two recent events have changed the lands cape: his departure from the NRB, and the sale of his Denver affiliate to Crawford Communications. While the events themselves were somewhat innocuous, the collateral damage has been staggering.
Our informants have advised us that Larson's publisher, Thomas Nel son, had to find out from the press that he had withdrawn BLM's appli cation to the ECFA. Evidently, Nelson president Sam Moore wasn't par ticularly ecstatic with that development; Nelson has endured criticism from other quarters in recent months16, and Moore would like to avoid having another Mike Warnke scandal explode in his face. Thus it would seem that his ' marriage' to Nelson is on even shakier grounds than the to his young bride, Laura.
Along similar lines, the loss of Denver's KLTT has caused surprising damage to the Ministry. Larson loses a number of affiliates to format and/or ownership changes every year, and in most cases, he simply goes to the station down the street. But in Denver, his failing reputation has preceded him; four of the seven local Christian stations are owned by those who have 'inside knowledge' with respect to the Larson situation Salem president Ed Atsinger dropped Larson upon learning of his divorcing former wife Kathy, and Don Crawford, Jr. had hired a certain talk-show host by the name of John Stewart. Moreover, the other three have been "on notice" for more than a year. Even Frank Trueblood, the station manager for KQXI (Larson's new Denver affiliate), claimed in a telephone conversation that he was indeed "fully aware" of the charges against Larson.17 But KQXI is one of Denver's less prominent sta tions, and is said to be struggling; Larson pays quite well... and he pays on time.
The move to KQXI affected Larson's Denver market in two ways: tape- delayed shows attract fewer listeners, and weaker stations reduce the size of his audience. Whereas KLTT could be heard from Ft. Collins to Castle Rock, KQXI's signal can at times be difficult to hear in Aurora or Boulder. And as his faithful, check-writing listeners slowly aban don his ship, Denver is poised to become irrelevant.
Under normal conditions, Bob Larson should be more than able to tol erate the loss of any given market, with the obvious exception of Dal las. But all is not well at BLM. The clearest evidence yet that Lar son has fallen into a state of sheer desperation comes from his Novem ber 1 show. Like Oral Roberts before him, Bob told his radio audience that God gave him a vision:
"About two and one-half hours ago, I told my secretary just to pull the blinds in my office; I want to close my eyes and sit back and relax for a little bit, and just lay all of this before the LORD.' And I did. And the LORD spoke to my heart -- and I want to tell you, my staff -- until I walked in here fifteen minutes before this show -- had no idea what I was going to ask you to do today. None. [Long pause.] And the LORD spoke to my heart very clearly, and gave me a vision for reviving Christian radio in America. A vision. The LORD told me what it was going to cost -- and I had my chief financial officer run some numbers to double-check it -- $1.89 million...."18
It ought to go without saying that, when God gives you a vision, you don't have to check His math....
God has this remarkable habit of talking to sinister ministers, and He always seems to say precisely what they want to hear. Oral Roberts needed $8 million to help out his medical school -- and God just hap pened' to tell him how much to ask for. At least, Bob Larson had the good sense not to lock himself in his studio....
Larson's immediate aim is to buy a local radio station. I can't say which one without jeopardizing my sources, nor can I offer an authori tative pronouncement as to why he wants it. Still, I can make an edu cated guess.
The obvious reason is that Bob's ego and pocketbook both demand that he stay on the air in Denver. In the best of times, his broadcasts on the former KLTT added roughly $6,000/mo. to the gross margin (although the figure has declined in recent months). Of course, that guess must presuppose that he expects Talk-Back to remain viable. My informants, however, insist otherwise. They say you can hear it in his voice, and see it in his countenance: Bob knows the end of Talk-Back is nigh.
If the Ministry is, in the vernacular, heading south for the winter, Bob's purpose in owning a radio station becomes even more obvious. In actual terms, the net worth of the Ministry is a bit less than $3 mil lion.19 it makes for a pretty nice stash, and a radio station might be the perfect getaway car. Bob wouldn't have to answer to anyone (aside from the FCC), and could lay colorable claim to remaining in the min istry. But more to the point, he would have access to the resources BLM has amassed in corporate solution, and continue to pay himself a handsome salary until he decides to retire early in the next century. And if BLM's handpicked Board of Directors remains true to form, they should be little more than a minor inconvenience.
An Aside: Field of Dreams
At present, the Ministry can write a check large enough to cover the down payment on just about any radio station in the Denver market. As such, the return of Talk-Back to the Denver airwaves should be consid ered to be a foregone conclusion. Still, the more intriguing question is whether Larson's proposed radio network has any real chance of suc ceeding.
In many ways, Larson's plan is so obvious that one is forced to won der why he had to have a divine revelation to come up with it. He has slowly been moving toward that goal for some time now (as evidenced by the hiring of former Denver DJ Pat O'Shea), and he has the raw techni cal capacity to start programming tomorrow. All he needs is some sat ellite time and a few dozen outlets, and he could easily be on his way to becoming the Christian Casey Kasem....
Yet, if anything, Larson may have missed the boat by waiting so long to launch this venture. In the days when he was reputable, as opposed to having a reputation, he could have established himself as a 'Christian DJ'. What's more,two years ago he had the luxury of farming out some of his Talk-Back duties to Bonnie Bell; it had enough of a profit margin that even Bonnie's worst efforts could have been tolerated. By stark contrast, in recent months Larson has been forced to work for a living: this Monday will mark the eighth continuous week of live Talk Back broadcasts.
But if Bob builds his field of dreams, will the audience come? Con sidering how little air play secular death-metal and techno-rock gets, it is hard to conceive of how "The Christian Metal Hour" could attract a viable audience. Still, in an environment where Christian radio has reached a saturation point (e.g., more than 15% of Denver stations air Christian' formats), and economies of scale are fast making the inde pendent station an anachronism, there should be a few station managers willing to join. Nonetheless, a few simply won't be enough. Economies of scale also drive the other end of the equation. Satel lite time isn't cheap, and unless the cost can be spread over a suffi cient number of affiliates, this potentially-profitable venture could become an albatross around Larson's neck. Ergo, he would stand a much better chance of making said venture work if hecan deliver a proven' product. And that's where Denver comes in....
If Larson stays true to form -- an assumption I'd be willing to take to the bank -- he will retain a profits interest in this highly specu lative venture, while investing no more than a token amount of his own money. Hence, if it fails, the Ministry will feel the pain, but if it succeeds, Bob will be able to laugh his way into a resplendent retire ment.
Even if Larson eventually decides that his new network isn't viable, he has laid the foundation for his return to markets like Los Angeles, San Diego, and Chicago. If the price is right, Christian station own ers can be bought ... and if Larson can offer a sufficiently-lucrative profit-sharing arrangement, Talk-Back will be back in Baltimore.
Maybe He Can....
For all practical intents and purposes, Bob Larson has become a law unto himself. He has carefully constructed his empire in such a man ner as to ensure that he is not accountable to anyone: board members, radio station owners, or denominational bodies. The press is kept at arms'-length ... and his publisher, in the dark. He is the captain of his ship, the master of his fate... And when accountability is absent, the conscience is certain to follow.
Nestled in the Appalachian hills, some 30 miles northeast of Chatta nooga, lies the spiritual equivalent of the No-Tell Motel: Dave Ford's Evangelistic Messengers Association. Fill out your application, send in your fifty dollars, and you can be ordained -- almost by nightfall. Just fill out the three-page application and get two ministers to sign it, and you're on your way! No education? No problem! You don't even need a high-school diploma to attend their More Than Conquerors School of Theology.20 In only 420 hours' class time, you can earn your bach- elor's degree in theology -- by mail.21 And they are fully accredited by the American Accrediting Association of Theological Institutions,22 whoever they are. When I called the organization which accredits our local Denver (Conservative Baptist) Seminary, The Association of Theo logical Schools in the United States and Canada, the lady answering my inquiry laughed and said, "Who are they?"23
But twenty-some years ago, when the young Bob Larson approached them with a fire in his belly and a full head of hair, the application pro cess was even more arduous: The road to the ministry was purely one of apprenticeship. After a scant one-year apprenticeship, you were ready to 'fly solo' ... if you were still confused by the difference between hermeneutics and Herman Munster, it really didn't matter. And if some time later, you fell into a life of grievous sin, it didn't matter ... EMA made no attempt to monitor their more than 1,000 active ministers, and had no formal procedure for disciplining wayward ones. EMA presi dent J. David Ford, who knew Bob Larson since 1971, was not even aware that he had divorced former wife Kathy, more than two years after the fact.24 I would love to tell you more about EMA, but Dr. Ford has refused to talk to me. He cited the following letter as the basis for his decision:
October 7, 1993
But truth does matter. - Bob Larson
Dr. J. David Ford, President Evangelistic Messengers Assn. P.O. Box 4018 Cleveland, TN 37320
Re Bob Larson
Dear Dr. Ford:
I realize the greatest sermon I will ever minister will not be behind the pulpit, but in everyday circumstances. I will conduct my personal relationships and financial affairs in such a way as to not bring reproach upon the ministry or most of all, my Lord and Saviour whom I love...."
In the E.M.A.F. Pledge, you have set standards of honor and integrity which are clear and uncompromising. Your vaunted words convey an unequivocal message: a calling from God is not a license to steal.
It is our understanding that -- quite possibly in direct response to our activity -- Bob Larson has scheduled a public appearance in Cleveland at the end of the month. It would not be extravagant to presume that he has scheduled a meeting with you to discuss the numerous allegations made against him. And if such a meeting is to occur, it seems appropriate that his accusers ought to be present. To that end, we'd like to make you aware of our willingness to make ourselves available for such a conference, and provide you with appropriate assistance to enable you to properly pre pare for it. One of my associates will even travel to Cleve land to present the 'case' against Larson if you so desire.
For his part, Bob Larson has acted like someone who has an awful lot to hide. Several months after his divorce was final, he had the court seal his files. Last year, he refused inter view requests by Christian reporters Joe Maxwell and Jay Gre len. He has gone to court to enforce "confidentiality agree ments" which have no legitimate business purpose -- serving only to dissuade former employees from revealing the embarrass ing truth. Both publicly and privately, he has accused me of contriving false financial statements -- despite the fact that the Ministry's general counsel admitted that the documents we worked from were accurate. When I confronted him on a Ft. Lau derdale, FL talk show, he hung up. And when the Evangelical Council on Financial Accountability raised questions of their own, Bob withdrew the Ministry's membership in the National Religious Broadcasters. For a minister of the Gospel, who is to 'walk in the light as He is in the light,' Bob Larson has an unusual aversion to scrutiny.
Although Bob Larson may have difficulty believing it, we do not seek the destruction of his ministry. Quite the contrary; we have received invaluable assistance from those who work inside the walls of BLM and would prefer to see it become a legitimate outreach to troubled teens. Even though the ultimate mission of Bob Larson Ministries is to minister to the extrava gant financial needs of Bob Larson, the concept is a sound one. We'd like it to be all that it can be ... WHAT IT OUGHT TO BE.
Unfortunately, that end may no longer be attainable. Bob Larson has placed the demands of his hyperactive ego before the needs of those he would serve. He has 'laid up his treasures' where rust and moths doth corrupt, and visited great shame upon the ministry.
All we are asking of Bob Larson is that he recant, repent, and reimburse those he has injured in his self-righteous ram pages. By recant, we mean that he must candidly and publicly confess his sins, and admit the attempts he made to cover them up, thereby 'compounding' them. By repent, we intend that he is to consciously and deliberately walk away from those sins; if the Ministry is to survive this scandal, adequate safeguards (e.g., a hostile board of directors) must be put into place to ensure that the conditions that facilitated his transgressions are not allowed to recur. By reimburse, we insist that he must offer fair and equitable compensation to those people he has injured in his quest to emulate the likes of Robert Tilton and J.D. Rockefeller.
We thank you for your assistance in this matter, and look for ward to hearing from you.25
On the very day Larson visited Cleveland, TN, I called Ford with the intent of gathering background information for this article. He quite angrily told me that the aforementioned letter was proof that I "had a vendetta" against Larson.26 Res ipsa loquitur.
It is often said that all that evil needs to thrive is for good men to do nothing, and that has pretty much been the tale of the tape' in the Larson affair. Scores of loyal Christian soldiers, fearing their masters' wrath, have stayed inside their comfortable bunkers and stu diously ignored the battle, but former KLTT station manager Brian Tay- lor deserves the grand prize for servility. Despite the fact that he has been aware of the Larson affair for more than a year, he continued performing his oral ministrations until the very last minute [on Talk-Back, 29 October 1993]:
Taylor: "Ah, sure I am the station manager at KLTT in Denver." Larson: "And that is the station that we have been on" Taylor: "Yes, the station you have been on for a number of years as a matter of fact." Larson: "Long time. Why did, why did you call Brian?" Taylor: "Well, I just called to encourage you, brother. I know that uh, today is our last day for a live broadcast for 'Talk Back' in Denver. And we have had tremendous response--people looking to know where you are going to go and we are not able to get you cleared live in the city anymore, but I'm believing for it and I just wanted to call and encourage you. Y'know a lot of people, and Jim in particular who just called, I feel bad for people like that because they-they look at it and they just look at totally the, the money or things like that and y'know, I have the luxury of working here and knowing a little bit more about your ministry, and seeing the fruits and knowing that there are some things there that people don't recognize and don't know that you do. Having worked in youth ministry in the city and some of the other folks here at the station too, we know we can call you with a referral anytime and you will tell us exactly where we can get help, how we can take care of the kids that have great need. And that kind of research takes a lot of money. And I'm sure that could happen in any city. So we give you a lot of praise and, uh well, give God the praise but we give a lot of appreciation for the work and the effort you put into your ministry...."27
Taylor's doctorate evidently appears to be in hypocrisy. In a letter to me, dated Feb. 3, 1993, he apologized for acceding to Bob Larson's demand that I be prevented from calling in on a local broadcast to challenge a litany of slanderous remarks Larson made concerning me:
"I also want to offer my apology for not allowing you an opportunity to call in and speak with Bob during the program. However, as I stated, that was the condition I understood from Bob when I invited him to be a guest on the station. In hind sight, it would have been better to allow you the same opportu nity to call in as other listeners were provided, so as not to give you (or anyone else) the impression that we were trying to conceal anything. As I consider that decision in retrospect, I can appreciate your displeasure."28His pious closing -- "Walk In Truth"29 -- spoke volumes. If you are incapable of walking the walk, you have no business talking the talk.
And Then Again, Maybe He Can't:
As long as the Evangelical community remains infested with slavering sycophants like Ford and Taylor, it has little hope of obtaining even a semblance of credibility among the unchurched and unsaved. If there is one salient lesson to be learned from the Larson affair, it is that nothing of substance has been learned from the Bakker scandal.
Yet, the wheels of justice continue to turn, albeit slowly. And the wheels at Bob Larson Ministries are beginning to fall off.
1 Timothy Morgan, "Personnel Woes Persist at Larson Ministries," Christianity Today, 13 Sept. 1993, p. 62.
2 Bob Larson Ministries, "Position Statement on September 13 Chris tianity Today Article" (unsigned press release), undated, p. 1 (orig inal sent to Doug Trauten of the Evangelical Press; cover letter not available).
3 Lori Boespflug, Interview, 17 Jun. 1992 (Boespflug stated that "Lar son never took these death threats seriously"; Lakewood P.D. sources unofficially noted that "only a few" incident reports were on file.)
4 Bob Larson, "Talk-Back with Bob Larson," Radio broadcast, 29 Jan. 1993.
5 Offense Report (misdemeanor harassment), Lakewood (CO) Police Dept. (Officer Ponczek reporting), Case Report #92-105773, 3 Nov. 1992, pp. 2-6 (other named "suspects" included California-based Christian talk- show host John Stewart).
6 Ibid., p. 3.
6a There have been a few stray exceptions to this rule. A few brave souls evidently have challenged Larson -- without any measure of suc cess. For example, this intriguing letter allegedly was faxed to the Ministry by former WVEL station manager Brian Cooper:
"Your station is supporting a liar. Bob Larson is not saving our kids from satanism, he's promoting it. He's not traveling every weekend to help the hurting but to promote himself so: (1) by 'pressing flesh' your listeners will think he's so important that when they find he's divorcing his wife they will not condemn him and continue to send in money (2) to build his mailing list for (a) direct solicitation (b) selling his latest novel (3) promotion of his new novel which will launch his new career, his panacea into the secular world where he won't have to answer to Christian moral standards.
Mr. Larson carefully planned and forced his wife, Kathy, who was an integral part of the ministry, out against her will. He had everything that made reference to her taken off all promo tional materials and stopped all reference to her. The purpose was, in time people would forget about Kathy and he could mani- pulate his way out of the marriage without it affecting his status. It's been a slow but persistent process.
For many years now Bob & Kathy Larson have not traveled toge- ther except at Christmas and one fundraising trip to Dallas and that was to placate the Thomases who helped get him started and own the Dallas station, his biggest money maker. Bob Larson has taken many trips over this time leaving his wife home alone, who under normal circumstances should have been with him, under the guise of getting away to rest or write a book. But he was not alone, he was sharing his first class resort, sunshine, golf courses, etc. with one of his lady friends....
Mr. Larson is an adulterer. He has had several liaisons. He lies to you and your listening constituency daily. He is past feeling. He is insensible, callas and has an appetite for sex, money, success, pleasure and status." [sentences in context]
As is obvious from the text, Cooper did not write the letter, but he did take the critical steps of believing the author, and making inqui ries of his own. The following memo is a post-mortem of one conversa tion between Cooper and IBN secretary Chris Rohling:
"TO: PAM, BOB, BONNIE, LORI, MARGO, AND LISA FROM: CHRIS DATE: AUGUST 14, 1991 RE: BRIAN COOPER - WVEL
As Pam already knows, I had a long discussion last night with Brian Cooper at WVEL, Peoria, IL.
He started the conversation off by saying that he wanted to be taken off of Compassion Connection's referrals. He received an anonymous letter a few months back saying that Bob was divor cing and also having an affair with a staff member. He said he then received Bob's letter in reference to the first letter. He doesn't want to be a part of something that he's sure will turn into another Swaggart/Baker scandal.
He wanted to know if it was Margo that Bob was having the affair with. I said that it was true Bob was divorcing but he was not having an affair. He wanted to know why Bob was divor cing for no reason (his words). I let him know that Bob and Kathy have tried for a few years now to salvage their marriage and it wasn't possible. He said he had a conversation with Bob in which Bob denied even being separated. I told him I had no knowledge of the conversation and I couldn't give him an answer.
He said he has had people from our ministry (currently) who have contacted him telling him of Bob's affair. He also said he talked with someone from our ministry yesterday, he wouldn't tell me who or which line he called them on, but he said this person said they were 100% sure Bob was having an affair but they were afraid to confront Bob about it for fear of losing their job. In both situations he didn't ask for names nor were they given....
He wanted to know Bob's reasons for getting divorced. I said I didn't know, and that it wasn't mine or the staff's business. He said it was and we should be holding Bob accountable for his actions. I told him one day we will all be held accountable and it wasn't my place to stand and accuse someone else of some thing that I had no proof of. He wanted to know if Kathy had an affair and that was the cause of the divorce. Again, I said I didn't know.
He said he wasn't going to be the one to let the people know what's going on at our ministry but he said people will find out sooner or later. He doesn't want to go down with the min istry because Bob had his hands in the cookie jar."
According to Lori Boespflug [who furnished both memos, and has proven to be an highly credible source in other matters], that call ended up costing Brian Cooper his job; I contacted WVEL in an effort to locate Cooper, but management would not give a forwarding number.
7 Anonymous, Letter (to Edward Atsinger, President of Salem Communica tions), 1991. (The authenticity of the letter was confirmed by former Salem employee John Stewart; Boespflug denied having sexual relations with Larson, but related the story of how he "tried to insinuate him self into her life" in the June 16 interview. [Some of Larson's more entertaining attempts to 'court Ms. Boespflug were chronicled in my open letter to David Neff of Christianity Today ("CT on the Block," published in the __/__/93 issue of the CPR)].) 8 Lori Boespflug, Interview, 17 Jun. 1992 (According to Boespflug, the trip was to "make it up to the girls" for the time she spent writing Dead Air; ergo, either she was writing "his" book, or Bob was having an affair with her).
9 Jay Grelen, "Bob Larson Quits NRB," World, Vol. 20, No. 8 (9 Oct. 1993), p. 24.
10 Lori Boespflug, Interview, 17 Jun. 1992.
11 Compassion Connection, 1990 Form 990, Schedule D (copy courtesy of the Internal Revenue Services).
12 Lori Boespflug, Interview, 17 Jun. 1992 (confirmed by other sources -- when I confronted Larson on this, he conceded knowledge of it.)
13 I Tim. 3:6.
14 See generally, I Tim. 3.
15 The bulk of this information comes from confidential BLM sources -- who have proven to be extremely reliable in the past.
16 E.g., William Watkins, "Market-Driven Theology," Cornerstone,
17 Frank Trueblood, Telephone interview, 26 Oct. 1993.
18 Bob Larson, "Talk-Back with Bob Larson," 1 Nov. 1993 (broadcast in Denver on one-day tape delay).
19 BLM's 1992 audited financial statements show an accumulated surplus of slightly more than $2 million. Nonetheless, the Ministry's office building is seriously undervalued on the books, and the balance sheet doesn't account for assets held by International Broadcasting Network or BLM's Canadian affiliate.
20 1993-94 Student Manual, More Than Conquerors Bible Institute, p. 10.
21 Ibid., p. 5 ("Each course of study will consist of ten hours of classroom instruction, on either videos or audio cassettes..."). Each three-hour class presumably constitutes a course of study'; a bache lor's degree is granted when 126 semester hours -- 42 classes, or 420 class hours -- are completed. This roughly one quarter of the time a student spends attending class in a secular university.
22 The AAATI was not listed in Gale's Directory of Associations as of 1991.
23 Call placed 29 Oct. 1993.
24 J. David Ford, Telephone interview, September 1993.
25 Ken Smith, Letter (to J. David Ford), 7 Oct. 1993, pp. 1-2.
26 J. David Ford, Telephone interview, 29 Oct. 1993.
27 Brian Taylor, "Talk-Back with Bob Larson," 1 Nov. 1993.
28 Brian Taylor, Letter (to Ken Smith), 3 Feb. 1993.
29 Ibid., ibid.