Bob Larson: The Lyin' King

It was beginning to look as if Bob had beaten the rap. Mike Warnke and Larry Lea were both on the comeback trail. And Robert Tilton was still preaching at his mega-church in Dallas. Thanks to the Evangel ical community's astonishing apathy and the willing complicity of the Christian media, the "Brat Pack" was still more or less intact. Like the watchman on the wall in Ezekiel 33, we sounded the alarm, but the 'city of God' remained in slumber.

And then, along came Mike....

WDIV investigative reporter Mike Wendland took an unexpected inter est in our handiwork on the Internet ... and thought that his viewers might like a look at Colorado's bush-league version of Robert Tilton. But unlike the people at Inside Edition, he didn't insist upon sex.

Panicked by Detroit:

The first segment of Wendland's special report aired in Detroit on Monday, May 23. Larson knew that the piece was coming, but he didn't know when -- and it appeared to have caught him off guard. His reac tion was, to put it politely, downright surreal:

"This ministry is under attack! There has been a systematic effort over the last couple of years to 'go after' one ministry after another. It is an effort designed in the pit of hell! And Satan will use whoever is at his disposal [audio unclear]: the Christian who thinks that, by dividing and conquering the Body of Christ, he's doing some service to the cause of Chris tianity, or whether it's an unbeliever, who has no concern for the welfare or the cause of Jesus Christ, and doesn't care how the truth is manipulated to destroy the work of God, or whether it's the 'media elite', who feel it is their arrogant responsi bility to pass judgment on others, when they themselves do not put their lives open to the same kind of scrutiny in which they would like to judge other people....

I know stuff about the Jim Bakker thing that I wouldn't tell in public, that you will probably never know, and maybe on my deathbed I'll tell. Someday, the truth needs to be told; maybe someday, I'll write a book about it! You don't know the story of Jim Bakker and what-- how that whole thing came down. You know what the press wanted you to know....

You know about Jessica Hahn. You don't know how the whole Jessica Hahn thing really happened, and how it really came into being, and how it was manipulated from behind the scenes, and how the whole thing was set up to destroy that ministry. And you don't know the role that Satanism played in that whole thing behind the scenes. Someday, I may come clean and tell the whole story and blow your mind. I know!!! You don't!!!"1

Bob has been complaining about a plot to 'destroy his ministry' for years, but this is the first time that he has tried to link it to the fall of such selfless servants of the LORD as Jim Bakker, Robert Til ton and Jimmy Swaggart. What's more, this sinister scheme appears to be directed by Christians:

"There are child-molesters and rapists and drug dealers run ning the streets of America, free on parole, who didn't do one- millionth of what Jim Bakker did to warrant what they did to him, to sock him away as a vendetta against the Church. And Christians went around, beating their chests, crowing and say ing, 'Oh, Jim Bakker got what he had coming'...

But what you've got to understand, folks, they took what they could and capitalized on what was there, and manipulated it behind the scenes, then it was a set-up to bring them down, to destroy them because they were easy to topple over. And Jimmy [Swaggart] wasn't too [unintelligible] to topple over. Okay? Then, along came the likes of Tilton, Lea, Grant, Warnke, many others. What they did was they went after the ones that were easy pickings first....

They set up a pattern. A pattern of accusation, a pattern of destruction, a pattern of going after people systematically. Listen, again, I know stuff behind the scenes about what hap pened in each and every one of these situations that would blow your mind if I could ever tell you. And let me tell you, for a year and a half, next in line has been Bob Larson. In a year and a half, they have done everything they could possibly do to threaten, destroy-- you don't know the one-thousandth of the things that have tried to be done to me, the ugliness and the viciousness of it. And sometimes, these people call themselves Christians. You don't know one-thousandth of it.

You don't know the private hell that I've lived through for the last couple of years. Now, a major television network has decided that they're going to try to take it upon themselves to destroy me, fueled by some who call themselves Christians....

I want to tell you, it is more ugly and vicious than you can possibly comprehend, how it's been done. The purpose of the devil is almost beyond belief. In fact, if I were to lay out in front of you the actual details of how this whole thing came together and how it's been done, so help me, not one person in ten thousand in this audience could believe -- you'd think I'm lying."2

And you'd be right.

A Bill of Goods:

Of course, Bob didn't get a chance to see Wendland's piece until Wednesday; once he got over the initial shock, he immediately set out on the daunting task of damage control. His usual collection of sus pected shills made their obligatory appearances, like Tina, the phone sex operator. But the most interesting caller of the first hour was Bill -- who quizzed Bob about the Ministry's alleged financial woes:

    Bill: "Well about your $35,000 shortfall, you always talk about
           paying your bills on time, yet you've got a $35,000 

    BL:   "That's right."
    Bill: "You must have quite a bankroll stashed away that you're
           able to pay these bills if you've got no money."

    BL:   "No, I don't."

    Bill: "Well, where did you get the $35,000 to pay all these

    BL: "Bill, read [Genesis] Chapter 41.  It's the story of Joseph
        in Egypt.  Joseph had a dream [seven years of plenty and 
        seven years of famine]....  Now, was Joseph used of God and 
        blessed by God for having the stewardship responsibility to 
        follow the leaning of the LORD and to prepare for difficult 

    Bill: "So, you are running a surplus, Bob?"

    BL: "No, I'm not, Bill.  You're not listening to what I'm 
         saying.  Bill?"
    Bill: "You've run a surplus in the past, and you've 
           saved it up?"
    BL: "Bill, some years ago, there were a couple of years in
         which, fortunately, God did bless us, and we were allowed to
         have an excess for which I praise and thank God for.  Because
         it had not have been for that, this ministry would have been
         out of business four years ago, and I would have been 

In the beginning of 1990, Bob Larson Ministries was indeed in sound financial condition. It had a net fund balance of over $1.3 million, and cash reserves of nearly $2 million.4 Yessir, once upon a time, things were really good at BLM. But how have things gone since then? The Ministry's financial statements speak volumes:

                        Bob Larson Ministries
                  Increase (Decrease) in Net Worth
                       For the years 1990-1992

 Year and source of info.   Revenues       Expenses     Fund Balance
Fund balance, 12/31/89 $ 1,387,089 1990 Stewardship Rept. $ 5,613,445 $ 5,103,648 509,7975 --------- Fund balance, 12/31/90 1,896,886 1991 Stewardship Rept. 5,436,225 5,189,611 246,6146 --------- Fund balance, 12/31/91 2,143,500 1992 Stewardship Rept. 4,681,166 4,724,935 (43,769)7 --------- Fund balance, 12/31/92 $ 2,099,731

If things were good four years ago, they must have been really good 17 months ago: For the three years ended December 31, 1992, the Min istry enjoyed a net profit of more than $700,000! Unless 1993 was an unmitigated disaster -- and I guarantee that, if Bob had lost a half- million dollars last year, Bob would have told us -- the Ministry is in far better financial condition than it was in the 'good old days'. Still, I suppose it wouldn't surprise you if Bob sees things a little differently:

    BL: "But the message that I'm trying to get across to you in
        this audience is real simple: What God did for us four years
        ago, and what the audience did for us four years ago, has not
        been repeated.  And it particularly has not been repeated in
        the last four months. Consequently, the abundance of the 
        blessing from God's people has been depleted to the point 
        where I am desperately needing your support NOW to be there 
        on your station.  And those are the facts....

You say, 'Well, Bob, I've heard you say a lot.' Let me tell you something: For the fourth year in a row, we've run in the red. And we've kept going only because of the past generosity and goodness of God's people. But that's come to an end."8

Four years ago, things were great ... but his listeners would never have discovered that from reading his 1990 fundraising appeals:

    April 6: "In the first three months of 1990, we covered costs
              for only 4 broadcast days out of 60."9

    May 4: "Compassion Connection is collapsing!"10
    July 11: "The last two months were a financial disaster.  Dona
              tions dwindled, contributions dropped off, and those who
              pledged didn't follow through."11

    Sept. 6: "The possibility of losing TALK-BACK in your area is
              very real.  August has been an agonizing month of continuous
              financial shortfalls."12

    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."13

    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."14

Remember, these letters were written back when Bob said that things were good, and his Ministry's financial records proved that they were good. Yet, in the midst of all this obvious prosperity, Bob is hold ing a 'going out of business' sale. And what Bob asked his audience, I would ask as well:

"Are you going to say, 'Bob is honest, and he's telling me the truth. And he's letting me know when it's been good, and telling me when it's bad'."15

I suppose that I could say it ... just not with a straight face.

Shirley, Bob Jests -- Part II:

While Tina's appearance was merely implausible, the return of Shir ley from Bakersfield, CA to the Talk-Back airwaves could be explained only by divine intervention or blatant fabrication. Shirley -- whose daughters purportedly killed a boy, and left his dismembered body in the desert near Yuma, Arizona -- should not have known about the WDIV news report that she more or less 'starred' in. And even Bob had to concede that her call seemed suspicious. Still, it wasn't the timing of the call which was so incriminating, but rather, the content. In this excerpt, Bob tried to direct Shirley's testimony in an effort to impeach the WDIV news report:

    BL: "Here's what happened.  This videotape -- and it's gonna be
        shown in some other cities-- has an excerpt of the conversation
        I had with you."

    Shirley: "Yes?"

    BL: "And basically what happened-- well, well, in the original
        conversation that you and I had several months ago, you told me
        about your daughters?"

    Shirley: "That they were involved in a murder.  That they had
              cut up a boy, they killed a boy -- well, their 
              boyfriends did -- killed a boy, and they cut him up, 
              and put him in different places."

    BL: "All right.  Basically --"

    Shirley: "As a matter of fact, the police, when they were here
             to my --  I wasn't supposed to say this over the air, 
             but that makes me mad."

    BL: "Well, let me tell you what they did.  What they did was,
        they played an excerpt of your call, and then they put my face
        on the screen, and they put a map of Arizona there, and they
        said, basically.... I don't remember the exact words, but we're
        going to prove that Bob Larson is a liar, and that he makes up
        these calls.  And they played your excerpt, and then they said
        they contacted the police in that city, and they have no knowl
        edge of any such thing...."16

While it is not uncommon for law enforcement agencies to refuse to disclose the particulars of an investigation, the suggestion that the Yuma, Arizona police would deliberately deceive a national television network regarding the grisly crime that Shirley described is patently ludicrous. Simply put, if the body was hacked to pieces, it's pretty safe to say that the victim didn't die of natural causes -- it's hard to imagine how the investigation could be damaged by a mere admission to the press that one was going on.

Oblivious to that rather obvious hole in her story, Shirley marches on:

    Shirley: "So that's why the cops told me not to say anything
             more about it.  See, the police were here-- I wasn't 
             even supposed to talk with you on the air about it.  
             But I'm going to,'cause that really makes me mad.  
             When they were up here at my house, they told me to 
             keep my mouth shut about it, but I'm sick of keeping 
             my mouth shut about it.  Okay?

BL: "Where are your daughters now?" Shirley: "Uh, they're not in jail right now. It's -- it's still pending. BL: "Okay." Shirley: "They say they don't have enough evidence-- he said they don't have enough evidence, but he did tell me that when he left my house that day, he said, 'I think we have enough evidence now to convict them, or to pick them up'."17

Once again, this is vintage Larson: the story isn't consistent. In the original conversation, Shirley's daughters were in jail, but now, they didn't have enough evidence to hold them. And two months later, the one daughter hadn't regained custody of her kids, even though the State had no grounds for depriving her of custody. What's more, the kids were left in the custody of a grandmother who couldn't even pay her electric bill.

It must have been 'divine providence' -- despite Bob's inept direct examination of his witness, he got precisely what he wanted:

Shirley: I'm sorry. I didn't mean to yell at you. [BL inter rupts, "That's OK."] They make me angry. They make me almost as angry as they do you, Bob." BL: "Well, I tell you what, Shirley-- Your call that day has-- has been used by the media to basically slander me and to accuse me of being a liar, and it was then used in the face of a Christian talk-show host to further accuse me of making up people like you." Shirley [interrupts]: "Oh, man!" BL: "Of course, I know the story, and I was never asked or told this was going to air, or they never asked for permission to play your call. Nothing. I mean, they did not get the tape recording over from us. How they got your voice, I don't know. Somebody--" Shirley [interrupts]: "I was gonna say, did they ask my permission to use my voice?" BL: "They didn't ask for it, and they didn't ask mine-- they didn't ask permission for anything. But they used this to make you into a liar and to make me into a liar and I-- as I watched the video running, I thought, 'What those people don't know is that this ministry did what it could to help Shirley after the fact, but they don't bother to ask those questions'." Shirley: "Well, yeah, but what right did they have to play any thing? Where did they get it from?" BL: "I don't know where they got it from, Shirley, but when you're dealing with the media, they don't play fair. These are not ethical people who go by the rules--" Shirley [interrupts]: "Well, we know that!" BL [continues]: "And-- and play above board. They-- they are out to smear, and they don't care who it takes...." Shirley: "You know what I'm gonna do? I'm going to get those reports. I'll get everything I can on it-- what little, what news they did on it, what newspaper reports they did on it and everything--" BL [interrupts]: "All right, will you do that, Shirley? ..."18

As of this writing, it has been more than seven weeks since Shirley made that pledge ... which should have been plenty of time for her to get that police report. In light of the fact that, under the circum stances, the Yuma police would have no reason whatever to lie to NBC, the absence of documentation becomes more and more incriminating with the passage of time. And let us assume, right now for sake of argu ment, that the documentation never comes. One question remains: Did Shirley deceive Bob, or did Bob defraud his audience?

While the evidence is admittedly circumstantial, it points directly at Bob. First, Shirley "just happened" to call from Bakersfield, and as Bob conceded, she "didn't know" about the WDIV report. That means that she would have had to have called on the regular line and gotten right through, while Tina the phone sex operator claimed that she had dialed "all week" without success19; moreover, it also means that she didn't have a compelling reason for calling. Second, she volunteered everything that Bob 'needed' to cast aspersions upon the WDIV report, and serve as a pretext for his grandstand speech:

    BL: "Let me tell you how the media operates, just so you know.
    They never told us that they were going to play a purloined
    tape of the show with Shirley's voice.  They never asked us how
    we followed up, and what we did, and what we know about the
    veracity of this story.  No.  They took the tape, played it,
    went behind her back and my back-- now, this is how the media
    operates, folks.  You need to know.  You watch that you-know-
    what on television, hey, I wanna tell you something: You don't
    know sneaky the Devil is being to twist stuff.  You don't know
    how sneaky the Devil is being."20
Like the majority of Larson's lies, his statements contain a grain of truth to them. Bob was never "told" the details of the story, but that was more a function of his refusal to appear on camera than any thing else. The tape was recorded from the public airwaves, which is perfectly legal, and WDIV's rebroadcast falls within the ambit of the "fair use" doctrine of 17 U.S.C. = 107. And while Mike Wendland may not have asked Bob Larson Ministries how they followed up, I did, and I published a transcript of my conversation with a Compassion Connec tion operator, in which she concedes that they never bothered to call the Yuma police.21

It is interesting to note that, in Shirley's second appearance, she almost seemed to go out of her way not to mention that the crime pur portedly took place in Yuma, Arizona. This is standard procedure for the Mighty Larson Art Players; it simply wouldn't do for listeners to pick up the phone and check out the story.

Sounds Like Bob Larson:

By Friday, Bob had regained most of his composure, and was ready to mount his counteroffensive. Using his 50th birthday as an excuse and a motif, he painted himself as an innocent victim of that scandalmon gering secular press:

      "The message of this song that I wrote fifteen years ago and
    recorded fourteen years ago is maybe needed more today than
    ever.  So, for all my Christian critics, listen very carefully
    to the words of this song:

          Why are you angry with me, Brother?
          What have we done to one another?
          Why do you say you find a fault in me
            and then you never tell what's on your mind?

          Oh, Brother,
          Why don't you ever call me Brother?
          And say you mean what you have said
          [unintelligible] behind my back,
          But never to my face to share the
          grievance that you have against me...'"22

Unquestionably, this was the most impressive public relations ploy I have ever seen Bob use. Without saying it, he is subtly insinuat ing that his critics never bothered to confront him, and if they had, this silly little misunderstanding could have been cleared up.

While Bob Larson's Christian critics haven't confronted him to his face, it hasn't been for lack of trying. Former Watchman Fellowship staffer Fred Wheeler23 approached him long before this story ever hit the media, but was brusquely rebuffed. Christian talk-show host and pastor Stewart White reportedly followed suit, but Larson slammed the door in his face, as well.24 Christian reporters Joe Maxwell,25 Jay Grelen,26 and Mike Wendland27 fared no better. He will appear on TBN,28 answer written questions submitted by the Church of Satan,29 and whine about how the secular media "raped" him on his own broad casts,30 but has steadfastly refused to submit to cross-examination from knowledgeable inquisitors.

Friends and foes alike observe that, even though he is the consum mate press-hound, Bob doesn't take public criticism gracefully. Ever since Michael Roberts broke the Larson story in Westword magazine two years ago, Bob has grown increasingly fearful of the press -- and his ministry has adopted a 'bunker mentality'. For a man who has nothing to hide, he certainly is going out of his way to hide it.

The following memo is further evidence that his silence was part of an orchestrated plan:

    TO:     BOB
    DATE:   7/27

    * Christianity Today -- Reporter Joe Maxwell

    * 30-minute telephone interview re: BLM, fundraising, BL's
    finances and personal life

    * Deadline is August 12th.  Best days -- 7/29, 8/10-11-12.

    * He indicated that they have the Westword, but also have inde
    pendent sources of info regarding finances.  I conclude from
    this that they have the divorce decree.

    * Said that several charges had been levied against BL.  I
    inquired what charges and by whom but he declined to answer.

    * Indicated not all questions would be indicting, but that this
    obviously wasn't to be a flattery piece.  CT wouldn't be call
    ing if they didn't have serious questions regarding BL and BLM.

    * Could not or would not tell me if the story is independent of
    a BL interview.

    After speaking to the directors, my suggestions is that the BLM
    Board decline the interview.  I think it will look better on
    paper if it's not just Bob Larson saying no he won't speak.

    I also suggest we not wait to respond and put them in a posi
    tion where they call us back.  It is easily printed that Bob
    Larson did not respond to 'numerous' inquiries.  Numerous is
    open to anyone's definition and this makes us look bad.  I
    would prefer we are simply up front in our declination.


    * Per BL request filled BA in on the above.

    * BL agreed that there is no win in doing the interview.

    * Suggest in addition to the Board saying no that we give a
    reason the board says no.  'The Board of BLM is considering
    legal action against parties spreading malicious and defamatory
    statements against Mr. Larson.  Until this matter is resolved
    the Board has put a moratorium on all interviews so as not to
    involve other parties'."31

To the best of our knowledge, the BLM Board never gave even passing consideration to the filing of a lawsuit, and based upon my knowledge of libel law, there isn't an attorney this side of J.C. Joyce (Robert Tilton's attorney) that would have taken the case. Bill Abbott is an expert in media law; he knew better, and so then should we.

Bob insisted that he didn't want to deal with the charges raised by his critics, but, as is so often the case on Talk-Back, the very next caller "just happened" to bring it up (I'll interrupt Bob's soliloquy with pertinent observations):

    Charles: "I have a really important question to ask you, Bob."

    BL: "I'm not into questions on my birthday, but we'll see."

    Charles: "I'm kinda confused 'cause I've been reading different
              books about Christian ministries and stuff--"

    BL [interrupts]: "Yeah?"

    Charles: "I saw a salary figure attributed to you--"

    BL: Well, I can tell you right now, it wasn't true.  And that's
        just not something I [unintelligible]--I don't even want to get
        into that 'you-know-what' today.  I don't want to do it.  It's
        just not true, Charles."

[While Bob said, "No, no," he said "Yes!" with his eyes.  He didn't
want to get into it, but spent the rest of the segment talking about

    BL: "In fact, ironically, it's the same figure--the same figure
        that they've been beating me bloody with.  The news media did
        it this week, in two major cities in America.  First of all,
        what they did was to quote a figure that involved, almost five
        years ago, a one-time windfall situation in which God blessed
        me, and I prospered....

[The windfall Bob is referring to was a $150,000 retroactive bonus, paid either in 1989 or 1990, ostensibly for his forbearance of salary during the first 18 years of the Ministry's existence. As a general rule, retroactive bonuses to executives are invalid -- on the grounds that consideration is not given. In a for-profit corporation, share holders could attack the bonus payment, but the not-for-profit corpo ration is not beholden to anyone.

It is interesting to note that the $150,000 bonus did not appear on the Ministry's 1990 Form 990 (which listed Larson's base compensation of $131,879, contributions to employee benefit plans of $54,708, and other allowances of $35,750, for a total package of $222,23732 -- not including salaries paid to him by International Broadcasting Network and BLM's Canadian subsidiary). And as you might have expected from an accountant, I used conservative figures in my estimate of Larson's annual income:

                       Bobby E. ("Bob") Larson
         Estimated Personal Income from Ministry Activities
                    Year ended December 31, 1990

    Direct compensation - Bob Larson Ministries (BLM):
      Salary                                            $  81,500
      BLM - Prorated bonus                                 25,000
      BLM - Expense account                                33,000
      BLM - Retirement allowance                           50,500
      BLM - Housing allowance:
        Mortgage payments                                  22,512
        Utilities, etc.                                     4,980
    Compensation - Bob Larson Ministries                  217,492
    Direct compensation - BLM subsidiaries                 95,428
    Total direct compensation from Ministry activities    312,920
    Indirect Ministry-related compensation                184,833
    Total compensation from Ministry activities         $ 497,75333

You will also note that $150,000 bonus is nowhere to be found in my estimate. I excluded it on the grounds that it was a one-time event, and inclusion would tend to unfairly overstate his annual income.]

    BL: "Secondly, figures that they quote don't have anything to
        do with the Ministry....  Now, in 25 years' time, I've person
        ally made a lot of real estate investments.  God has blessed
        me.  I-- I've fallen into things that, boy, it sure wasn't my
        brains that got me. God has blessed me. I've taken some chances
        and God has blessed me."

[Let's take a quick look at one of Bob's shrewd real estate deals. In late 1985, Bob and former wife Kathy bought the building housing the Ministry for $1,415,000.34 But they didn't put up a dime of their money -- they mortgaged that property for $1,550,000,35 and evidently, pocketed the difference. So far, it looked like a shrewd deal; Dave Del Dotto would have been justifiably proud.

Unfortunately for Bob, 1986 was a disastrous year for Denver real estate: the market went into an absolute free-fall, as property val ues plummeted by 10% and more -- and there was no end in sight. Sud denly, Bob's "shrewd investment" became a white elephant. And as he was personally liable on the mortgage, his net worth dropped as fast as the building's value.

What was a best-selling author and commentator to do?

Like many investors who were saddled with burned-out tax-shelters, Bob tried to 'cut his losses' by selling the building to an entity he controlled (the Ministry) for $1,800,000.36 A $385,000 profit, in less than 15 months, is nothing to sneeze at -- until you start look ing at the fine print.

By all accounts, the building was worth somewhere between $1.2 and $1.3 million (several years later, it was revalued on the Ministry's books at a shade more than $1 million). Yet, the Ministry bought it from the chairman of its' Board of Directors for the grossly overin flated price of $1.8 million. Instead of buying another comparable building on the open market for $1.3 million, the Ministry "gave" Bob a windfall of over half a million dollars. Or to put it another way, Larson sold the building to the Ministry for the $1.3 million it was worth -- and put $500,000 worth of sacrificially-given Ministry funds into his own pocket.

So, did Bob reap God's blessings ... or steal His money?

    BL: "I have written 22 books.  So, you know, go buy a calculator. 
        Go buy a calculator.  I've written 22 books.  Half of them
        have been best-sellers.  I don't get food stamps.  Is this a
        mystery?  Is this should be like a great shock to those news
        paper reporters, and people who want to go around quoting 

[If Bob had, indeed, written 22 books -- on his own time, and using his own personal resources to research, write, and promote them, his critics simply wouldn't have any basis for criticizing him. But when Ministry employees do the bulk of his research, writing, and editing for him (while on the Ministry's payroll), Ministry money is used to pay for direct-mail advertising of his books, and Ministry airtime is used to promote his books, there's a real cause for concern. And, to add insult to injury, Larson even had the audacity to sell books that Ministry employees wrote while on Ministry time for a 50% markup, far more than the customary 10% author's royalty. Yes, God has prospered him -- but at the expense of the Social Security checks of little old ladies who have been duped into supporting his largesse.

When famed bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks, he simply said, "That was where the money is." Willie was wrong.]

    BL: "And if primarily -- apart from the Ministry -- through my
        own wisdom and resources and good judgment, and God's blessing
        -- God has blessed me -- then should the figure matter?"

[Since I know a fair number of them, I can say with some confidence that there isn't a single one of Larson's critics that would begrudge him as much wealth as he could attain. But, as I told him in conver sation nearly two years ago, I don't object to his being wealthy, but rather, I take offense as to how he got it. Bob didn't make his for tune from writing books, or investing in real estate; he made it from his Ministry. Bob did it by defrauding his listeners, and using his Ministry as his own personal piggy-bank. Bob's God helps those who help themselves ... to the contents of the collection plate.

Bob Larson might not be a competent musician, writer, or minister, but he does have an undisputed talent for raising money. He can turn almost any situation into a plea for donations, and this is no excep tion:]

    BL: "You see, I believe this Ministry ought to prosper, and one
        of the most hurtful things is to see that over the last few
        months, it has not prospered.  It's hurt deeply.  And you know,
        there are people out there who would come along and say, 'Well,
        you know, the LORD must be trying to 'teach you a lesson', Bro-

You know, God's got a lot of ways of getting my attention and your attention without using the faithlessness of other people regarding their finances. God doesn't need your stinginess to teach me a lesson."37

It's not like Bob's listening audience has only two choices ... to give their tithes to him, or pay taxes to Bill and Hillary. There is a vast array of worthy charities out there, run by people who believe that their ultimate mission is to help the needy, as opposed to help ing themselves. Even the layperson has an obligation of stewardship; throwing money at the first man who comes along and calls him brother is by definition irresponsible. If Bob doesn't get a Champion, some organization more worthy of it undoubtedly will.

Still, I'd reckon there is hope for Bob yet. After all, he didn't lie about his age....

The Soap Opera Song:

Throughout his recent trials and tribulations, Bob Larson has tried his best to maintain at least the outward appearance that the disclo sures concerning his many moral indiscretions have had no effect upon his ministry. And like Robert Tilton before him, he has for the most part succeeded. But every now and again, the obvious cracks in Bob's porcelain fa5ade are exposed; even when he tries to pick topics which should keep the Bob-bashers away, they just keep on coming. Consider what Duane from Aurora had to say when Bob asked him what he would do if he became 'dictator for a day':

"First off, I would rescind the tax-exempt status for churches. Second, I would institute the death penalty upon conviction for fraud, when perpetrated in conjunction with evangelistic fund- raising activities. And third, I would declare a one-time holy holiday so [Bob hits his panic button; dead air] watch on TV as your sentence is carried out [more dead air]."38

Angry denials won't silence legitimate questions; even devout long- time Bob-backers have started to doubt him. Each censored caller and every new revelation raises the level of suspicion even further -- as a result, to maintain the Ministry's cash flow level, Bob has to ride his remaining supporters just that much harder. And now, our favor ite Mafioso minister has started his own spiritual protection racket, using 'shake-down tactics' worthy of John Gotti to replenish his coffers:

"What you do in these next four minutes is not an option. Did you hear me? It is not an option! God doesn't give you a choice! If you have been blessed by this ministry ... you do not have a choice. Give--and it will be given to you. That's not a choice, that's a command! Most Christians don't under stand that. They think that when the offering plate comes by, that's an option. No, it is not an option. And that offering plate's going under your nose right now! It is not an option, unless-- you want your life to be cursed. Now that's what Malachi 3 says: You rob God, you're gonna be cursed."39

Thus spake the Dapper Don, Bob Corleone: You give-a me money, or I breakka you legs. God so loves a cheerful giver....

Ever since the WDIV incident, Larson's image consultants evidently have given him strict orders to shut up. Gone are the passionate and entertaining tirades against "enemies" who are out to destroy him and his ministry. Gone are shows about atheists, witches and the occult. These days, he's even hard to listen to on fast forward.

Clinton, abortion, and gays ... oh, my!

There are still ways to keep abreast of current developments in the world of "Beelze-Bob," but those avenues are shrinking at an exponen tial rate. Larson recently settled the age discrimination case filed by the undisputed star of the WDIV report, Muriel Olson.40 If Larson stays true to form -- and he will -- Olson will be required to sign a confidentiality agreement, and yet another incriminating 'voice' from the past will be silenced. Still, as this letter from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission attests, the evidence remains:

    "Charge No. 3209211626  [letter signed by Francisco J. Flores,
    Jr., EEOC District Director, on December 31, 1992]

    Under the authority vested in me by the Commission, I issue the
    following determination as to the merits of the subject charge
    filed under the Age Discrimination in Employment Acts (ADEA) of
    1967, as amended.

    All requirements for coverage have been met. The Charging Party
    [Muriel Olson] alleges that she was discriminated against in
    violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, in that
    she was discharged and paid less than other employees at her
    level because of her age, 61.

    Investigation reveals that Charging Party was hired as a word
    processor, at age 56, on January 2, 1986.  Charging Party was
    later promoted to head of the word processing department and
    trained subordinate word processors. Charging Party requested,
    and Respondent [Bob Larson Ministries] agreed, to change her
    title to Rewrite Editor. At this point Charging Party had dele
    gated all her other duties to subordinates.  Charging Party's
    sole duties were to rewrite and edit chapters of a book being
    written by her employer.  Charging party completed her work on
    that book in March 1991.  There were no other duties for Charg
    ing Party to perform and her position was eliminated."41

According to WDIV's Mike Wendland, despite this clear and unequivo cal confirmation of Ms. Olson's WDIV testimony, Bob Larson Ministries spokesman and attorney James Rollin Miller told their counsel that if they had bothered to look at Olson's suit against Larson in Jefferson County District Court, they would have found that her claims to auth- orship were dismissed as without merit. However, as Judge Polidori's order dismissing the case shows, the facts never quite seem to square up with Bob Larson Ministries' press releases:

      "Plaintiff's [Olson's] Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Claims for
    Relief are for conversion, unjust enrichment and accounting and
    implied trust, respectively.  Plaintiff alleges that her work
    on the books produced by the Defendants was more than mere
    editing; rather, the books were 'ghostwritten' by Plaintiff.
    Plaintiff asserts that she was never compensated for her liter
    ary product, and this constitutes conversion by the Defendants,
    and that leaving proceeds of these works solely in the hands of
    the Defendants would be unjust enrichment.
      Ownership rights in literary products are governed by federal
    copyright laws. Title 17 U.S.C. =201, reads, in pertinent part:

        '(a) Copyright in a work protected under this title vests
       initially in the author or authors of the work. The authors
       of a joint work are co-owners of copyright in the work.
         (b) In the case of a work made for hire, the employer or
       other person for whom the work was prepared is considered
       the author for purposes of this title, and, unless the
       parties have expressly agreed otherwise in a written
       instrument signed by them, owns all of the rights comprised
       in the copyright.'

    One of the definitions of 'work made for hire' is 'a work pre
    pared by an employee within the scope of his or her employ
    ment'.  17 U.S.C. =101.
      Plaintiff alleges that she began as a supervisor in the word
    processing department.  Plaintiff acknowledges that she per
    formed many other duties for Defendants, including working as a
    re-write editor for Defendants books.  There is no dispute that
    the Plaintiff performed all of these duties as part of her
    employment.  As such, Plaintiff's contribution was 'work made
    for hire', and any ownership rights lie with the Defendant.
    Plaintiff's compensation came in the form of wages.  Therefore
    the Court would find that summary judgment is proper on the
    Plaintiff's Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Claims for Relief."42

While the Court properly acknowledged that Muriel Olson was not the "author" of the books she claimed to have written (e.g. Satanism: The Seduction of America's Youth) for purposes of U.S. copyright law, it tacitly confirms the EEOC's finding that she was indeed an author-in- fact. The Ministry paid her salary -- while she was writing Bob Lar son's books. And, as Olson's timesheets, the EEOC, and internal Min istry memos43 attest, the time that Ministry employees spent on Bob's books was quite substantial. Yet, this fact was conveniently ignored on the Ministry's 1990 tax return.44

Either the books in question are, in fact, Ministry property (under 17 U.S.C. =201, Bob Larson Ministries would be a co-author), and Lar son's receipt of royalties constitutes embezzlement, or time spent by employees on Larson's books constitutes compensation to him (under 26 U.S.C. =61 and Treas. Reg. =1.61-21(b)), and he has wilfully signed a false tax return (see, 26 U.S.C. =7206(1)). Either way you slice it, it still looks like a felony.

O-wim-o-weh, o-wim-o-weh, o-wim-o-weh, o-wim-o-weh....

While the 'Larson beat' has been remarkably quiet in recent months, there have been a few curious developments. It seems that IBN vice- president Pam Koczman and her husband John have filed for divorce.45 Koczman, a conservative Lutheran pastor, reportedly confessed to mem bers of his congregation that his wife's purported infidelity was at least part of the reason for the break.46.

As we have learned from both the Anita Hill and Paula Corbin Jones affairs, the fundamental problem with charges of sexual impropriety is that they invariably boil down to a simple game of "he said, she said." Unless you happen to catch them in flagrante delicto (like former Tilton aide and pastor Dan Moroso, who pleaded guilty to hav ing oral sex with a known prostitute, in broad daylight, in an apart ment complex parking lot47), or find spent condoms in a divorced minister's personal garbage, one or both of the parties could invoke the 'Bart Simpson defense': "I didn't do it, nobody saw me do it, and you can't prove it!"

For our purposes, the question of who Pam may have become intimate with is almost beside the point; the Koczman incident speaks to Bob's public rationale for firing BLM vice-president (and, Dead Air author) Lori Boespflug. Larson allegedly dismissed Boespflug for living with her fianceE,48 not really sinful per se, but such a relationship does give rise to a presumption of Biblically-proscribed behavior. On the other hand, Boespflug insisted that she was fired because she refused to 'put out' for Larson.49

Every divorce is a tragedy; we should not inquire into the whys and wherefores any more than is absolutely necessary. I wouldn't say one word about it, except for the fact that it puts Bob Larson in a deli cate situation. Unconfirmed reports have reached me that Pam Koczman (who, as Christianity Today's Timothy Morgan reported last year, is a defendant in a sexual harassment suit50) has moved in with her cur rent paramour, even though her divorce is, at last check, still pend ing. If these reports are true, and Larson, as he publicly insisted, fired Boespflug for apparent adultery, then he is obliged to show Pam the door, as well ... no ifs, ands, or buts.

Like sands in the hourglass....


1Bob Larson, "Talk-Back With Bob Larson" (hereinafter, "Talk-Back"),
Radio broadcast, 24 May 1994.

2Ibid., ibid.

3Talk-Back, 25 May 1994.

4Bob Larson Ministries (hereinafter, "BLM"), 1990 Form 990, p. 3
(obtained by author from the Internal Revenue Service).

5BLM, 1990 Stewardship Report.

6BLM, 1991 Stewardship Report.

7BLM, 1992 Stewardship Report.

8Talk-Back, 25 May 1994.

9Bob Larson, Fundraising letter, 6 Apr. 1990, p. 2.

10Bob Larson, Fundraising letter, 4 May 1990, p. 1.

11Bob Larson, Fundraising letter, 11 Jul. 1990, p. 1.

12Bob Larson, Fundraising letter, 6 Sept. 1990, p. 1.

13Bob Larson, Fundraising letter, 9 Oct. 1990, p. 1.

14Bob Larson, Fundraising letter, 7 Dec. 1990, p. 1.

15Bob Larson, Talk-Back, 25 May 1994.

16Talk-Back, 25 May 1994.

17Ibid., ibid.

18Ibid., ibid.

19Ibid., ibid (first hour).

20Bob Larson, Talk-Back, 25 May 1994.

21Ken Smith, "Bob Larson: Patterns of Fleece" (Internet article),
March, 1994, pp. 3-4.

22Talk-Back, 27 May 1994.

23Fred Wheeler, Telephone conversation with author, Jul. 1992.

24Perucci Ferraiuolo (free-lance reporter; regular guest on Stewart
White's radio program), Telephone conversation with author, May 1994.

25Joe Maxwell, Telephone conversation with author, Aug. 1992 (see
also, note 33, infra.).

26Jay Grelen, Telephone conversation with author, Jan. 1993.

27Rick Salinger (KCNC news reporter, who worked with Wendland on the
recent NBC exposE of Larson), personal conversation with author, 13
May 1994.

28"Praise The Lord," Television broadcast, date unknown (some time in
Apr. 1994; an excerpt from the tape was used in Mike Wendland's WDIV
report on Larson).

29Bob Larson, Talk-Back, 2 Feb. 1994.

30E.g., Bob Larson, Talk-Back, 27 May 1994.

31"Bonnie" [Bell], Memorandum to "Bob" [Larson], 27 Jul. 1992.

32BLM, 1990 Form 990, p. 4 (see note 4, supra).

33A more detailed explanation of the estimate and how it was arrived
at can be found at Ken Smith, "The Two Faces of Bob," Christian Press
Report, Jun. 1993 (article available on Internet).

34Deed (filed in Jefferson County, Colorado, 11 Oct. 1985), Reception
No. 85098153.

35Deed of Trust (filed in Jefferson County, Colorado, 11 Oct. 1985),
Reception No. 85098159.

36Deed (filed in Jefferson County, Colorado, 29 Jan. 1987), Reception
no. 87012264.

37Talk-Back, 27 May 1994.

38Ibid., 10 Jun. 1994.

39Bob Larson, Talk-Back, __ May 1994.

40Olson v. Larsen [sic], No. 93-B-469 (D. Colo. July 11, 1994) (order
advising the Court that the parties reached a settlement).

41Francisco J. Flores, Jr. (EEOC District Director), Letter, 31 Dec.

42Olson v. Larson, No. 92 CV 2058 (Jefferson County (Colo.) Dist.
Ct. Dec. 18, 1992) (order granting summary judgment).

43See, e.g., Pam Koczman, Memorandum (to Bob Larson), 18 Aug. 1992;
the internal evidence concerning Larson's wilful misuse of Ministry
resources to further his career as an author is examined in greater
depth in Ken Smith, "Bob Larson: Looking Out For Number One," avail
able on the Internet at FTP.MANTIS.CO.UK [see Scott Mikusko (MIKUS
KOS@MSU.EDU) if there are problems].

44Transactions between the Ministry and "related parties" (including
the Ministry's for-profit broadcast subsidiary, International Broad
casting Network) are required to be disclosed in accordance with IRS
regulations.  The Ministry disclosed their purchase of broadcast time
from IBN during 1990 on Form 990, Schedule A [those who have my press
version see the Ministry's 1990 Form 990, Schedule A, p. 1 and Sched
ule II attached], but it did not acknowledge any purchase of employee
services by Bob Larson -- either directly or through IBN.

45In re the Marriage of Koczman, No. 94 DR 508 (Jefferson County
(Colo.) Dist. Ct., filed 23 Feb. 1994).

46Name withheld by request, Telephone conversation with author, Apr.
1994; Lori Boespflug imparted knowledge of a purported affair between
Ms. Koczman and a co-worker to me back in June of 1992.

47Rebecca Sherman, "Fallen Angel: Former Tilton Aide Pleads Guilty to
Public Lewdness," Dallas Observer, Mar. 24-30, 1994, p. 9 (courtesy,
"Brother Randall" of Snake Oil magazine, who also enclosed a copy of
the arrest affidavit).

48Timothy Morgan, "Bob on the Block," Christianity Today, 17 May
1993, p. 74.

49Lori Boespflug, interview with author, 17 Jun. 1992 (see, Ken
Smith, "CT on the Block," Christian Press Report, __ Jun. 1993, for a
closer examination of the supporting evidence).

50Timothy C. Morgan, "Personnel Woes Persist at Larson Ministries,"
Christianity Today, 13 Sept. 1993, p. 62.

Copyright 1994 Kenneth L. Smith. All rights reserved. Copying is permitted for non-commercial use only. Please direct your questions to the author at P.O. Box 280305, Lakewood, CO 80228.