Robert Tilton (born June 7, 1946)
Pastor, Author, Televangelist and Fake. Word of Faith World Outreach Center Church, Muck Maker and Vitamin salesman.
He is an American televangelist who shot to the top of the charts from the late 80s to early 90s. He was a fore-runner in the infomercial-styled religious television programs. His how Success-N-Life, peaked in 1991 on all 235 American TV markets where he grossed nearly $80 million per year.
However, within two years after ABC's Primetime Live aired an expose into Tilton's fundraising practices, which started a series of investigations into the ministry, Tilton's program was no longer being broadcast. Halleluya!
Tilton later returned to television via his new version of Success-N-Life airing on BET and The Word Network. In 2008, Tilton stopped broadcasting his program on television and is now utilising internet media alone for his broadcasting.
At a recent convention of Shamans, Faqirs, Witch Doctors, Noted Hynotists, Voodoo Practitioners, Alien Supporters, Peyote enthusiests, the Boogyman Association, and Meth Lab owners, Mr. Tilton was considered too fake to really know the word and was not sent an invitation to attend.
The bolt of lightning, replacing the "Burning Bush", struck Rev. Tilton with Christianity in 1969. He began his ministry in 1974, taking a new wife and an old car on the road. Tilton preached to small congregations and small tent revivals throughout Texas and Oklahoma.
Known as the The Bible belt and he had the Babel to go with the Bible. Tilton and his family settled in Dallas, Texas, and built a small church in Farmers Branch, Texas called the "Word Of Faith Family Church" in 1976.
The second God Tilton found was Dave Del Dotto, a real estate promoter who produced hour-long infomercials showing his glamorous life in Hawaii who sold "get rich quick" books, as well as "interviews" with students about the success in life they were now enjoying thanks to DDD.
Upon his return from Hawaii in 1981, Tilton—with the help of a US$1.3M loan from Dallas banker Herman Beebe aka "the Putz" got started. Before the ABC News investigation, in a deposition video for a lawsuit that was taped August 18, 1992, Tilton admitted; Having robbed a fruit stand as a teen; Abusing marijuana, LSD, and various barbiturates; Drinking lots of alcohol and using lots of drugs" before his conversion.
EXPLOITATION OF VUNERABLE PEOPLE
In 1991, Diane Sawyer and ABC News conducted an investigation of Tilton and two other Dallas-area televangelists, W.V. Grant and Larry Lea.
The investigation, assisted by Trinity Foundation president Ole Anthony and broadcast on ABC's Primetime Live on November 21, 1991, found that Tilton's ministry threw away prayer requests without reading them, keeping only the accompanying money or valuables sent to the ministry by viewers, garnering his ministry an estimated US$80 million a year. He also went after mike Murdock.
Ole Anthony, a Dallas-based minister whose Trinity Foundation church works with the homeless and the poor on the east side of Dallas, took an interest in Tilton's ministry after some of the people coming to the Trinity Foundation for help told him they had lost all of their money making donations to some of the higher profile televangelists, especially fellow Dallas-area minister Robert Tilton.
Curious about the pervasiveness of the problem, the Trinity Foundation got on the mailing lists of several televangelists, including Tilton, and started keeping records of the many types of solicitations they received almost daily from various ministries.
Former Coca-Cola executive Harry Guetzlaff came to the Trinity Foundation for help and told Anthony that Guetzlaff had been turned away from Tilton's church when he found himself on hard times following a divorce.
He had been a longtime high-dollar donor, and gave up his last $5,000 as a "vow of faith" just weeks earlier. Guetzlaff's experience combined with the sheer magnitude of mailings from Tilton's ministry spurred Anthony, a former intelligence officer in the United States Air Force and licensed private investigator, to start a full investigation of Tilton's ministry.
Guetzlaff joined Anthony in the task of gathering details on Tilton's operation, and would later do much of the legwork in finding and following the paper trail for the ABC news investigation. The evening of Nov. 21, 1991, ABC News aired a dramatic hidden-camera report that lifted the veil on Tilton's "fulfillment" operation in Tulsa, Okla. Video showed workers opening donor letters and setting aside checks and cash for deposit. They entered donor names and addresses into a computer, which then spit out a form letter saying Tilton had received their prayer request and was now asking God to help them. Investigators found many of the donor prayer requests in a Dumpster, according to the ABC report.
Marte Tilton, the evangelist's first wife, with whom he had four children, recalled watching the broadcast and described the experience in a memoir published in 2000. "We sat motionless and speechless through the entire program," said Tilton's former wife, whom he divorced in 1993. "Overnight, we became objects of public ridicule and a flurry of lawsuits."
The television report was devastating because Tilton had promised his viewers he would prayerfully ask God to help them with specific problems. The revelations prompted more than a dozen disgruntled donors to file lawsuits alleging that Tilton had engaged in fraud. Tilton migrated to South Florida, where he had maintained a vacation home. After a short second marriage, he found Maria Hortensia Rodriguez, 13 years his junior, and embarked on his third marriage.