Bob Larson: The Cowering Inferno

Just when Bob Larson was sure it couldn't get any worse ... it did. While October of 1993 witnessed a flurry of telling blows to Larson's fading prestige, most of the subsequent damage was self-inflicted.

The Bob Larson School of Public Relations... January 7, 1994: Hardly a day which will live in infamy. Bob Lar son is on live remote, closing out his vacation in "Toledo," when he is confronted on the air by a startling call:

     Caller: "Hey, Bob, listen to this.  I just got a plane ticket
           to come looking for your butt.  You know your little dog?
           I'm going to kill it!"

     BL: "You what?"
     Caller: "Yeah, you heard me.  And if the dog don't stop the
           show, then I'm comin' looking for you!  And if you don't stop,
           the demons of hell will come and get you.  But I will find you.
           As for my [unintelligible], he ordered me to kill myself.  And
           you can mark it down in your little black book, Bob.  You're
           gonna die!"

     BL: "Sir--"
     Caller: "Yeah, I couldn't find you New Year's.  I got your
           number right here, and I got what you look like right here.
           You got red hair, you got freckles, you're short [dead air].
           Area code three-oh [caller cut off]...."1

Ho-hum. Another day, another death threat. Larson has seen it all in the last eleven years -- and has learned to take it all in stride. In fact, he even wanted to let the man back on the air! Larson shows no fear.

And then, along came Dan from Atlanta....

     BL: "Dan, what's on your mind?"
     Dan: "Yeah, hey, Bob, how're you doing today? I was just 
          wondering -- I read something recently that I wanted 
          to ask about. Uh, I read that your ministry is no longer 
          with the Evangelical Council for Fin-- [dead air]...."2

Psychopathic killers don't even faze Larson, but the minute anyone asks about the Ministry's financial affairs, all hell breaks loose. And Larson's explanation [interspersed with my observations] for the rude treatment Dan received is particularly intriguing:

      BL: "Well, the gentleman has asked a question that I am more
          than happy to answer.  But the problem is that there are some
          people out there -- and Dan, you may be very sincere in asking
          your question.  If you are, then I want somebody to get his
          phone number, and you'll get a personal call from someone on
          our staff responding to that question."

[Of course, we are left to wonder why Larson couldn't answer Dan's question on the air. After all, if he could offer him an answer that was not either blatantly libelous, patently ludicrous, or a little of both, that ought to be the end of the matter. It's hard to embarrass someone who has nothing to be embarrassed about....]

      BL: "There are some people out there who are doing their best
          to try and hurt this ministry, and the viciousness of it, and
          the conspiratorial nature of it, is -- it is so ugly.  IT IS SO
          UGLY you can't even begin to comprehend it.  And I'm just not
          going to deal with it."

[It's hard to conceive of anything that could top Dead Air in terms of sheer ugliness. Scenes from that book include a child performing fellatio on members of the 'Order of the Dark Raven' and a minister's heart being sacramentally eaten by cult members. And Larson's narrative was, if nothing else, graphic:

      "There's nothing so evil they won't do it.  I saw cult mem
      bers tied down and their genitals mutilated.  Men were cas
      trated.  One young girl was forced to perform oral sex on ani
      mals to bring out the penises so cult members could cut them
      off and feed them to their victims.  Do you understand what I'm
Actually, we do, Bob -- it's downright repulsive. And that's what managed to make it past Thomas Nelson's censors....]
      BL: "I'm not going to turn this program into someone else's
          format who wants to tear down the work of God.  So understand
          that. And we have been consistently set up by fake, phony 
          callers.  Dan may or may not be one of those people.  And 
          if he has a sincere question, it will be sincerely answered.  
          But we have had to adopt a policy -- there are so many people 
          who have lied to us and tried to set us up and put us in very
          difficult situations, simply to try to tear down the work of God,
          that I'm just not going to stand for it."

[As numerous Internet readers have reported, when people call Talk- Back and honestly raise questions, most are harangued by Bob's call- screeners. And the few who get through, whether by hook or by crook, are greeted with dead air. One reader related the following tale:

        "Recently I called in to the radio show and, when Bob finally
      came on, I asked him if he had really put a private eye on Ken
      Smith.  Usually when Bob gets a crank caller on the air, he'll
      make a few wise cracks before he hangs up on them.  This time,
      he hung up on me immediately.  It was like he knew something."4

Bob continued his sickly-sweet soliloquy with an ad misericordiam appeal, and then, tried to wrap himself in the Cross:]

        BL: "This audience who listens to this program has sat there
          for nearly two hours.  They have heard my life threatened by a
          man who has called this program before and has threatened to
          kill me -- and he's used different names, and that's why we had
          him on the air today; we had no idea who it was and what he was
          going to say.  [Evidently, the man called several weeks ago and
          used the same name: Clint from Dallas.]  We have had his call
          verified by somebody else who claims he's wanted for murder and
          is a psychopath.  And on top of all of that, I have spent a
          great deal of time doing the work of this ministry and God to
          reach out and nationwide share the plan of salvation...."5

Bob meandered on, vilifying his opponents with almost McCarthyesque aplomb. But the damage had been done: Hanging up on what was, in all probability, a sincere caller and likely Internet reader, is bad form at best. Yet, it is just another in a venerable line of public relations blunders committed by the kind and generous folks at Bob Larson Ministries.

One of our people called BLM to get their official explanation for all the negative press Bob has received in recent months. According to BLM Director of Communications Patrick O'Shea (Pat seems infatuated with that title, don't you think?), yours truly supposedly 'doctored' Bob's divorce transcripts, to make it appear as if Larson was raping and looting his ministry.6

As is the case with most of Larson's lies, this one is capable of quick and simple refutation. First off, before I obtained a copy of the transcripts, I was made aware that copies were in the possession of at least three other parties (including Westword and Christianity Today). If I had tried to pull a stunt like that, I would have been nailed to the wall.

Second, as Westword's Michael Roberts noted, Larson has tried that excuse before -- and the Ministry's general counsel called him on it:

      "'Anybody who has been through divorce proceedings knows that
      there are a lot of things that are entered into a divorce
      transcript that are just there -- they're just fluff,' Larson

      I'm saying the figures are not totally accurate
      and I'm saying that many figures in there do not relate to what
      this ministry pays me.'
      Those figures came from a legal document that includes Lar
      son's signature beneath a declaration that, under penalty of
      perjury, the affidavit and statements contained therein were
      true to the best of his knowledge.  Chris Johnson, the minis
      try's general counsel, subsequently clarified Larson's comment
      about the document's accuracy.

     'None [of the figures] to our knowledge are off more than a very 
     tiny percentage of the full amount,' Johnson says.'Some of the 
     numbers were a few dollars off, but I think that's totally 

Finally, Larson's abrupt withdrawal of the Ministry's application to the ECFA constitutes a tacit admission that our allegations have merit. After all, if we had created these figures from whole cloth, that could have been demonstrated in a matter of minutes -- and he wouldn't have had to withdraw the application.

Only a man with the rigorously-trained intellect of a University of Nebraska drop-out would rest his defense on such a lame charge. Bob fizzled as a rock star, flopped in college, failed in his marriage -- and he's not even a competent liar. That's really too bad, for it is the one thing he does best.

Hank Hanegraaff/CRI

It has almost come to the point where Bob Larson is playing Russian roulette with his callers. Every call is a potential land-mine, and every time he reaches for his "panic button," it raises questions in the minds of his audience. Even when Bob is convinced he is on solid ground, it is liable to give way at any time. Consider the following exchange between Bob and a caller from Seattle:

     Travis: "I want to wish you ill, Bob.  I don't think you have
            any right calling anybody a coward, and I can prove that you're
            a coward in the five seconds we have left here. I challenge you
            to get somebody from the Christian Research Institute on your
            program, because I've heard them say things about you that I
            think your listening audience needs to hear."

     BL: "Like what?"

     Travis: "Like, your theology is all screwed up."
     BL: "Like what?"

     Travis: "I didn't talk to them personally, so I don't want to
            try to quote any of them, but I think you know what I mean [BL
            tries to interrupt here], and I think you're too much of a 
            coward to talk to them on the air."

     BL: "Sir, I suggest that you be real careful.  Because, let
         me tell you something: While there may be people in the 
         Christian Research Institute, some of whom do not agree 
         with every thing this ministry does, Mr. Hank Hanegraaff 
         is the president of that organization, and he has been 
         a dear friend of me and this ministry.  The late Dr. 
         Walter Martin has been a dear friend of me and this ministry.  
         And I know of no time, ever -- under any circumstances -- Mr.
         Hanegraaff or Dr. Martin ever has said one word about the 
         theological inaccurateness [sic] of this ministry."

     Travis: "Wrong.  It's your program and it's your word against
            mine, but I have heard it."

     BL: "Well, Sir, I don't care what you've heard, and I suggest
         you write Hank Hanegraaff personally."

     Travis: "I suggest you get them on the air and let them tell
            their side of the story [BL interrupts, and talks over him] 
            to the people of America."

     BL: "Sir.... Patrick, just dump this guy.  Mr. Hanegraaff has
         been personally in our offices, personally in our studios, and
         personally on the air with me, live from our studios.  And they
         have a fine ministry, and whether they agree with everything I
         do or not, as far as the doctrinal accuracy and historic 
         orthodoxy of this ministry is concerned, that is without 

It wouldn't be all that extravagant to say that Travis has made his final appearance on Talk-Back. Yet, while the chances of Larson com plying with Travis' request are virtually nonexistent, I can tell you what Hank Hanegraaff would have said. In fact, I asked him that very afternoon.

Hanegraaff did appear on Larson's program -- but according to Hank, there was more to the story than Bob was willing to tell. Hanegraaff visited BLM's offices ... but only to examine Larson's call-screening technology. And technically, he was Larson's "guest" ... but he only made a cameo appearance. It was not, as Larson seems to be implying, an endorsement of his ministry.9

Lori Boespflug, World's star whistle-blower, told me the same story some months ago -- with a couple of twists. First off, BLM employees were under strict orders not to talk to Hanegraaff about the workings of the Ministry. Second, Larson made sure that Hanegraaff didn't see everything they had.10 Quite a friendship....

It is equally true that Hanegraaff has not made a public pronounce ment as to whether Larson's ministry falls within the ambit of ortho doxy. And to hear Hank tell it, there is yet again more to the story than meets the eye:

        "I've never really listened to Bob Larson.  I used to listen
      to him in Atlanta, but I could never listen for more than five
      minutes because he was so abrasive and sensationalistic."11

The gap in his knowledge has since been filled: In mid-December, I sent Hanegraaff a compilation of Larson's radio appearances, includ ing salient portions of the infamous WFTL interview (wherein Bob hung up in the middle of a two-hour interview, rather than face me on the airwaves).12 His response was instructive:

        "I was shocked to hear what he [Larson] said....  I've played
      enough quotes of enough faith-teachers' to know; regardless of
      what anyone else said, or any other circumstances, what he said
      himself was indicting."13

Hanegraaff has been absent from the airwaves for several weeks, and as such, he has not made any public pronouncements concerning Larson. Nonetheless, he was not overjoyed with the fact that Larson was using him as a professional character reference.14 I rather doubt that CRI will be giving Bob Larson any kind of endorsement within the foresee able future....

Lt. Col. Oliver North

On December 1, Larson managed to score a coup -- or, so he thought -- in having Oliver North appear on Talk-Back. By his own admission, Bob spent nearly $4,000 to rent Denver's spacious Calvary Temple for the occasion.15 But that cavernous cathedral, which seats nearly two thousand souls on an average Sunday, was packed by a throng of fifty people -- one of our associates was able to do an actual head count. By comparison, North drew nearly three hundred for a book-signing at a local Hatch's Book Store.16 Colonel North was visibly annoyed by the poor turnout, and understandably so.

Our BLM informants told us that their next staff meeting definitely was worth the price of admission. Suffice it to say that Bob was not thrilled; BLM Director of Communications Pat O'Shea was called on the carpet as only Bob can do it. O'Shea was so concerned by the threat that, given enough time, I might find a way to embarrass Bob in front of Col. North, that he didn't begin advertising the appearance until two days before it happened. What O'Shea didn't know -- and probably should have surmised -- is that our associates are on his local mail ing list. Even Bob was swift enough to figure that one out.

Larson's unbridled paranoia has always been one of our most impor tant resources, and it has continued to yield handsome dividends. An organization bears the imprint of its leadership; if you work under a

climate of distrust and fear, you develop paranoid tendencies easily. O'Shea appears to have acclimated himself to BLM's corporate culture, and as a result, made a painfully obvious mistake. And Bob's violent reaction only further fanned the flames....

Thomas Nelson

The Christian 'ministry-industrial complex' appears to operate on a kind of herd instinct: They are eager to circle their wagons around a wounded colleague ... but the moment they sense that those wounds are fatal, they abandon him. And ever since his trumpeted departure from the National Religious Broadcasters, Larson has been losing allies at a prodigious pace.

Larson's assaults upon Christian media moguls like Salem Broadcast ing's Ed Atsinger have not gone unnoticed, and his antics have caused many long-time friends to scurry for cover. However, the most staggering 'defection' to date would appear to be Thomas Nelson. It came to our attention several months ago from unofficial sources that Larson had been dropped by Nelson (or would be, when Abaddon lost its' commercial viability). But we recently have learned from an unlikely source that Larson has been shopping for a new publisher, and has in fact contacted Huntington House editor Mark Anthony.17 As a practical matter, leaving the largest religious publisher in the known universe for a tiny outfit like Huntington House isn't exactly the smartest of 'career moves' for the typical author. Suffice it to say that Larson wasn't acting on his own volition....

Thomas Nelson's only gospel is the bottom line -- they didn't share Hanegraaff's concern that Larson had fallen into apostasy. But scandals are matters to be avoided, and while it wouldn't be necessary to break their existing contracts with Larson, they have a vested interest in terminating their relationship. Quietly.

Even if we presume that the Nelson-Larson divorce is not yet final, at a minimum, it can be said that all is not well in their relation ship. Back in early November, I took the liberty of sending Nelson a query for my book on Larson, Grand Lar$ony. On information that Book Division vice-president Bruce Barbour had been canned in the wake of the Benny Hinn scandal, I sent the proposal to his attention, just to see how they would react. While I wasn't surprised to find that the query was rejected (Given Nelson's complicity in this affair, should we really have been surprised?), I was intrigued by the fact that it took them three business days to reject it. As anyone who has tried to get a publishing contract knows, that is almost unheard of in the industry; you're lucky if they get back to you in three months!

I sent copies of my four Larson articles, along with documentation, to show that there was enough information for a book. Barbour's suc cessor returned my originals -- once again, an unusual practice -- in remarkably poor condition. They had been copied repeatedly, and read extensively. Nelson's executives displayed more than a casual inter est....

The Evangelical leadership moves with all the swiftness and certi tude of a federal agency, but move it does. And more often than not, the target of allegations 'prods it along' with his antics. Like so many others before him, Bob Larson has become his own worst enemy.

And the Robert Tilton School of Finance:

While Bob Larson's recent spate of public relations gaffes could be attributed to ineptitude, his fund-raising methods have migrated from the deceptive to the bizarre.

It is no longer enough for Larson to ask his listening audience for the money to cover the Ministry's day-to-day operational costs. Now, there has to be a crisis -- and there's a new one every week. First, he started off by saying that God gave him a vision to 'revive Christian radio'. And while Bob said that he needed $1.89 million to make this vision a reality, he only asked for $189,000 as a 'faith venture tithe'. But even though God 'assured' him that the money would come, his audience didn't heed God's call. After three weeks, Bob gave up, and suddenly discovered' another disaster: Compassion Connection was almost $100,000 in the hole. But his attempts to fill that hole fell on even deafer ears ... until God purportedly 'bailed him out' in the most amazing way:

        "I made a phone call to a very special gentleman who wishes
      to remain anonymous -- in fact, it doesn't make much differ
      ence; he can't hear the show, anyway....

        This man shared with me a story.  It is truly remarkable.  He
      said  'Bob, I don't even hear your show.... And even though I
      can't hear you, this week God spoke to my heart, and He said,

      'Put a check in the mail to Bob Larson for $20,000'.' He said,

      'I'll be frank with you, Bob -- the company that I operate, at
      that point in time, was so far in the red, when I told the sec
      retary to draw the check, she said, 'Don't you know that
      account is $31,000 in arrears?  There is no money in it'.'  And
      he said to her, 'Write the check to Bob Larson Ministries for
      $20,000 and mail it -- God told me to.'

      'Bob,' he said, with tears in his eyes and a choked voice,

      'the day after I mailed that check [dramatic pause], my busi
       ness received an order for $250,000'."18

Only a man with Bob Larson's morals can find a moral to that story:

        "If one man can step forward by faith and do what he did, you
      can.  And I'm asking you to take a step of faith, and I'm ask
      ing you to dig deep, and I'm asking you to do what you should
      have done and now need to do.

        Well -- you say, 'Bob, I don't have it.' Write the check!

        'Bob, I don't know if I can afford it.' Write the check!!!

        Because what God did for that man, God will do for you."19

Of course, the obvious question is why Larson would exhort his fol lowers to bounce checks just to meet the Ministry's ongoing financial needs. Yet, the more important question is, "Where did all the money go?" As anyone who has suffered through an introductory accounting class can plainly see, as of the beginning of 1993, Bob Larson Minis tries was virtually swimming in cash:

                          BOB LARSON MINISTRIES
                            DECEMBER 31, 1992

  Current assets:
    Cash and marketable securities                      $ 1,698,027
    Other current assets                                    326,621
      Total current assets                                2,024,648

    Fixed assets (net of depreciation)                      882,561
    Other assets                                             49,439
      Total assets                                      $ 2,956,648

                      LIABILITIES AND FUND BALANCE

    Current liabilities                                 $   366,595
    Long-term debt                                          490,323
      Total liabilities                                     856,918

    Fund balance                                          2,099,730
      Total liabilities and fund balance                $ 2,956,64820

Despite the fact that Larson was sitting on a multi-million dollar war chest at the beginning of 1993, he came to his audience on Decem ber 22 of that year with a plea for funds to get back on the air in Cincinnati:

        "We've got to raise $60,000 this week.  That includes our
      immediate budget plus the responsibilities of committing our
      selves to this contract.  Because keep in mind, when we go back
      to Cincinnati, we haven't been there in two and one-half years;
      we're starting all over again.  Brand new audience.  From
      scratch.  We've got to get that audience back, and to get their
      support.  And before we do that, we've got to have the advance
      start-up costs.
        Now, folks, we do not have that money...."21

Either Bob Larson Ministries is suffering a financial hemorrhage of truly Biblical proportion, or Bob's doing his now-famous Bill Clinton imitation.... Still, Larson's 'Cincinnati caper' pales in comparison to his post-Christmas fund-raising campaign to get Talk-Back back on the air live in Denver:

        "We're days away from one of the most important opportunities
      that has ever faced the ministry.  Next Monday, we can be live
      here in Denver -- if I've got the assurance from you our budget
      this week is met, and we've raised a seed of the start-up costs
      to get going in Denver.
        Now look, folks: I've got to have the first couple of months
      covered, or we can't commit ourselves.  That's all there is to
      it.  The money isn't there."22

Of course, those minor details didn't deter Bob from announcing his triumphant return to the Denver airwaves -- on December 21st, fully a week before he aired that poignant plea:

        "Hi.  This is Bob Larson.  I have some exciting news for our
      Denver listeners.  God has opened the door in  '94 Talk-Back
      will be live again from 2 P.M. to 4 P.M. daily, right here on
      [Denver radio station] KQXI 1550 AM."23

And as it turned out, the money wasn't there -- or at least, that's what he told his listening audience on January 3, 1994:

        "I've got $95,000 staring me in the face over the next week
      or so, and here's the reason why....
        We fell $30,000 short of what we needed to raise that week
      [to get on the air in Cincinnati: $60,000].  I thank God we
      raised what we would have raised [sic], or we wouldn't be on
      the air live in Cincinnati, so you gave us enough to get going
      but not enough to stay there....
        And for those who are listening to us live in Denver....  We
      had an incredible goal last week [$47,000].  We almost reached
      it; we fell $10,000 short.  And while I'm at it, two crucial
      stations [Salt Lake City and Washington D.C.] ... are in seri
      ous jeopardy...."24

By Bob's own admission, the money wasn't there. They didn't even meet budget [$40,000 per week, or $80,000], raising only $67,000 for the two weeks in question. Cincinnati should be silent. And Denver should be dead. But Bob Larson is more than a mere mortal; he is a best-selling author and commentator. Evidently, the Ninth Command ment doesn't apply to such deities.... And the hits just keep on coming. Here's a sample of Bob's latest release (January 11, 1994):

        "The first week of this year has been the most abysmal start
      to any year I have ever seen in the history of this ministry.
      And I don't know what you're doing, but you're not standing by
      this ministry to support it.
        And I'm gonna tell you: Within 24 hours, I'm going to have to
      announce the most drastic measures I've ever had to announce in
      the history of this organization if you don't do something real
      fast.  Do you know that last week we had a $46,000 shortfall
      that I have been faced with having to raise this week and yes
      terday, only $4,000 in pledges received to do anything about

Never mind that the shortfall was larger than Larson's weekly bud get. Never mind that, in all probability, he had a pretty good week ($95,000 asked for less $46,000 in shortfall equals $49,000 in income for the week). Things are bad. Things are desperate. You've got to open your checkbook right now.... Let's go back to the good old days. 1990 certainly was the best of times for Bob Larson Ministries: In that year, the Ministry made more than $500,000 in profits.26 We don't have tapes going back that far, but we do have appeal letters. And even while Bob was rockin' along, he loved to sing the blues:

Bob Larson's Greatest Hit$ - 1990:

      July 11: "the last two months were a financial disaster."27

      Sept. 6: "The possibility of losing TALK-BACK in your area is
              very real.  August has been an agonizing month of continuous
              financial shortfalls."28

      Oct. 9: "Recent weeks have been the most devastating in the
              history of this ministry.  Every week was worse than the week
              before.  Things have gotten so bad, I'm left with only two
              choices. I will have to cancel the second hour of TALK-BACK, 
              or close down the Compassion Connection and the HOPE line."29

      Dec. 7: "By December 31, I must erase a $185,000 deficit in
              paying for our air time.  If I can't, we could lose so many
              stations it would be difficult to continue TALK-BACK."30

Amidst Bob's incessant cries of poverty, an unconfirmed report sur faced which indicates that Christmas came early for Bob Larson Minis tries. It seems that a Southern California-based toolmaker sent Lar son a contribution of about $100,000 -- in small, unmarked bills. It almost goes without saying that most folks aren't in a habit of keep ing that kind of petty cash lying around the house, but we can assume that the gift was legitimate, and the donor, almost as gullible as he is eccentric.

Of course, this windfall never got applied to Bob's goals of saving Compassion Connection, paying for his confrontation with death-metal musicians in New York, or getting seed money for his campaigns to get on the air in Denver and Cincinnati. In fact, in all the time I have listened to Talk-Back, I cannot recall when Larson has ever announced on the air that he has reached any financial goal ... until some time after the fact. While the truth can set you free, it tends to have a deleterious effect upon donations....

But what, the uninitiated might ask, does this have to do with Rob ert Tilton? To Trinity Foundation president Ole Anthony, who played a pivotal role in engineering PrimeTime Live's exposE of Tilton, Lar son's modus operandi should be hauntingly familiar:

        "I was -- and still am -- quite familiar with Robert Tilton
      and his ministry.  I knew, for example, that the ministry was
      quite secretive about its operations and that the ministry had
      declined numerous requests by the National Religious Broadcas
      ters' Association, the Better Business Bureau and the Evangeli
      cal Council for Financial Accountability to participate in
      voluntary release of financial data and other business informa
        On a more personal note, I became involved in the investiga
      tion with PrimeTime Live because our Foundation routinely takes
      in the homeless, the hurting, the drug offenders, the proba
      tioners ... not to some shelter or faceless program, but into
      our homes and lives.  Not as a client or number or name on a
      computer printout, but as a member of a loving community who
      just happens to be in need.  Several of these people had given

      their last dollar to Robert Tilton and other T.V. evangelists
      out of desperation betting on the spiritual roll of the dice.
      Then when they had lost everything and went to them for help,
      they were told to go to a social service agency.  This kind of
      callousness was beyond my comprehension."31

I won't pretend to know enough about the Robert Tilton situation to make authoritative remarks, but I submit that the easiest way to tell the difference between a good ministry and a bad ministry is in their respective attitudes toward finances. A good ministry will never try to raise more money than it needs (see, e.g., "Focus on the Family's Guidelines for Fund-Raising," #932), while a bad ministry will accum ulate relatively large cash reserves. A good ministry doesn't object to outside scrutiny of its financial affairs, while a bad ministry is averse to inquiries (e.g., both Tilton and Larson have elected not to join the ECFA). A good ministry understands that service is its' own reward, while a bad ministry invariably appeals to your sense of ava rice ("You say, 'Bob, I don't have it.' Write the check! ... Because what God did for that man, God will do for you!"33).

If anything has astounded me during this odyssey, it is the Chris tian community's almost limitless tolerance for the legions of snake- oil salesmen like Bob Larson -- spiritual profiteers who extract vast fortunes from your brethren in the name of the LORD. While it can be -- and often is -- argued that this is not my concern, clearly, it is part of yours. After all, as Paul wrote to the church in Corinth:

        "But now I am writing you that you must not associate with
      anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or
      greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler.
      With such a man do not even eat.
        What business is it of mine to judge those outside the
      church?  Are you not to judge those inside?  God will judge
      those outside.
           'Expel the wicked man from your number'."34

And Baby Makes Three:

On a more personal note, there is both good news and bad news ema nating from the Larson household. First, a little one is forecast to be running around the family mansion. That's right: Word around the office is that Laura is pregnant! Evidently, Bob made the announce ment on the rabbit's death bed ... Laura reportedly is due in August. Let's wish mother and baby-to-be all the best, even if Daddy ends up spending the bulk of his or her wonder years in 'Club Fed'.

The bad news is that, after Bob asked his devout followers to "give like they've never given before," he made the ultimate sacrifice, and vacationed in Maui for two weeks this year, instead of his usual one. And while he was out boogie-boarding, Satan assaulted him with a ten- foot wave -- at least, that's what he told staffers. By the time the story makes it into an appeal letter, it ought to be twenty-five feet at least....


1"Talk-Back With Bob Larson," Radio broadcast, 7 Jan. 1994, tape on
2Ibid., ibid.
3Bob Larson(???), Dead Air (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991), p. 230.
4J.M. Appleby, Letter (to Ken Smith), undated (Nov. 1993), p. 1.
5"Talk-Back With Bob Larson," Radio broadcast, 7 Jan. 1994, tape on
   file (interspersed with editorial comments).
6Patrick O'Shea, Telephone interview (with an anonymous associate),
  23 Dec. 1993.
7Michael Roberts, "The Evil that Men Do," Westword, May 27-Jun 2,
   1992, p. 12.
8"Talk-Back With Bob Larson," Radio broadcast, 3 Jan. 1994, tape on
9Hank Hanegraaff, Telephone interview, 3 Jan. 1994.
10Lori Boespflug, Interview, June, 1992.  Lori and I had a number of
   detailed discussions regarding the internal workings of the Ministry
   during the week after her firing; I can't recall the precise date on
   which this specific incident was discussed.
11Hank Hanegraaff, Telephone interview, 3 Jan. 1994.
12"Hot Talk with Al Rantell," Radio broadcast, 15 Jul. 1993 (see, Ken
   Smith, "Bob Larson (Sort-of) Talks-Back," first published by the
   Christian Press Report in August, 1993, for a transcript of key por
   tions of the exchange), tape on file.
13Hank Hanegraaff, Telephone interview, 3 Jan. 1994.
14Ibid., ibid.
15Reported by a key contributor to the Larson investigation, one of
   the few individuals in attendance.  Larson admitted on his broadcast
   ("Talk-Back With Bob Larson," 1 Dec. 1993, aired in Denver on 2 Dec.
   1993) that "a small audience" attended.
16Estimate of a clerk at Hatch's Book Store in the University Hills
   section of Denver, obtained on 3 Dec. 1993.
17James R. Spencer, Telephone interview (with an associate), 29 Dec.
   1993 (confirming testimony given by confidential sources).
18"Talk-Back With Bob Larson," Radio broadcast, 6 Dec. 1993 (aired in
   Denver on 7 Dec. 1993), tape on file.
19Ibid., ibid.
20Bob Larson Ministries, 1992 Consolidated Balance Sheet (abridged
   for brevity), p. 2 (obtained from Bob Larson Ministries on or about
   27 Aug. 1993; a complete copy of the statements, including a cover
   letter on BLM letterhead signed by BLM (now-Senior) Vice President
   Angelo Diasparra, is enclosed with the accompanying documentation).
   It should further be noted that the fair market value of cash and
   marketable securities held by BLM at year-end was in excess of $1.75
   million (see Note 2 on p. 7 of the Statements).
21"Talk-Back With Bob Larson," Radio broadcast, 22 Dec. 1993 (aired
   in Denver on 23 Dec. 1993), tape on file.
22Ibid., 30 Dec. 1993 (courtesy of a correspondent; (due to record-
   keeping problems, the date the program was aired has not been ascer
   tained; it doesn't matter much anyway, insofar as all of Bob's shows
   that week were pre-recorded).
23Bob Larson, KQXI commercial, aired 21 Dec. 1993, tape on file.
24"Talk-Back With Bob Larson," Radio broadcast, 3 Jan. 1994, tape on
25"Talk-Back With Bob Larson," Radio broadcast, 11 Jan. 1994, tape on
   file (as fully expected, the "drastic measures" were not announced).
26Bob Larson Ministries, 1990 Stewardship Report, inside of flier;
   1990 revenues were $5,613,445, while expenses were $5,103,648; leav
   ing the Ministry with a profit -- technically, called a
   surplus' -- of $509,797.
27Bob Larson, "Emergency" (appeal letter), 11 Jul. 1990, p. 1.
28Bob Larson, Appeal letter, 6 Sept. 1990, p. 1.
29Bob Larson, "Keep the Vision Alive" (appeal letter), 9 Oct. 1990,
   pp. 1-2.
30Bob Larson, Appeal letter, 7 Dec. 1990, p. 1.
31Affidavit of Ole Anthony at 3-3, Tilton v. Capital Cities/ABC, No.
92-C-1032B (N.D.Okla. 1992; status of case unknown), courtesy Ole
   Anthony (I don't care as much about the Tilton case per se as I do
   the fact that Anthony made that statement under oath).
32 Focus on the Family, Guidelines for Fund-Raising (a copy is on my
   door; I don't have an actual cite).
33 See note 19, supra.
34I Cor. 5:11-13 (NIV).

Copyright 1994 Kenneth L. Smith. All rights reserved; reproduction permitted for non-commercial uses only. Please direct your questions to the author at P.O. Box 280305, Lakewood, CO 80228.
Since so much of this article is based upon transcribed show tapes, I have made a compilation tape available to authorized republishers, indicating the context in which Larson's statements were made. How ever, as much as I may want to make this tape available to anyone who asks, wholesale publication would in all likelihood be a violation of federal copyright law. (Of course, if Bob Larson publicly accuses me of making these quotes up, he will effectively forfeit the Ministry's copyrights, and the kid gloves can come off.)