AOH :: LARSON2.TXT|
Bob Larson - Christian or Charlatan?
From: "Scott.Mikusko" <21922SM@msu.edu>
Subject: Bob Larson - Christian or Charlatan ?
Date: Thu Sep 23 05:27:08 1993
For those of you who may have read the post concerning Josh
McDowell, the information about Josh was gathered during the
course of an investigation being conducted on Christian writer and
radio commentator Bob Larson.
Bob Larson's Talk-Back is heard daily on over 170 stations in North
America. The Denver-based ministry that Larson heads is supposed to
be the "cutting-edge" in Christian broadcasting (or that's what Larson
would like you to believe ). But the real Bob Larson, and the real
motives of his work with the ministry is becoming more apparent as
critics are now taking a probing look into the radio show, the ministry,
and Bob Larson himself.
The following article, _The Two Faces of Bob_, first appeared in the
Christian Press Report, an electronic newsletter out of California.
( It's permitted for public distribution in addition to the copyright, I
have complete permission from the author of the article to post this.)
I dont know how many people on the net know of Larson, but I feel that
this information needs to be brought forth.
If you have any comments or questions, please send your responses to
Other posts will be forthcoming.
Thanks very much for taking time to read this.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> The Two Faces of Bob <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
In an interview with the Evangelical Press, Bob Larson
boasted that "Nobody is accusing me of doing any thing
illegal, immoral, or unethical." So, just call me
nobody. Larson is a pathological liar -- or at the very
least, is in the habit of taking indecent liberties with
the truth. This common thread seems to run through every
aspect of Bob's life. His fetish for falsehoods even is
evi denced by exaggerations of his childhood achievements:
for instance, he asserted in his 1974 book, Hell on Earth,
that he was a child star:
"Bob Larson achieved fame at the age of thirteen when
his first hit song was published. He had his own rock
and roll band at fifteen, and performed on radio and
television over the next years until his career took him
to Convention Hall in Atlantic City."
As often is the case with Bob Larson, reality never
quite matches up with his press releases. Sharla Turman
Logan, the keyboard player for "The Rebels" (Bob's former
band) stated that she knew Bob at thirteen, but "never
heard of any hit song." And although they did in fact
play to a capacity audience at Convention Hall in Atlantic
City, there was a little more to the story than meets the
eye. It seems that they played one song -- at a Lions'
Club convention. The drummer's father was an officer in
the organization; HE booked the gig.
The song: A parody of "Charlie Brown."
Larson's penchant for prevarication can also be seen in
his aborted medical career. On January 5, 1993, Bob
publicly claimed that when he entered the ministry, he was
"only a few credits away" from receiving a degree in
chemistry, and then, going on to medical school. Yet,
Bob graduated from high school in 1962, attended McCook
Junior College for one year, transferred to the University
of Nebraska, and left there in September of 1964.
Unless he truly was a phenomenal student (and there is no
evidence of that), he would not even have been close to
graduating after two years. Maybe not a "lie," but
certainly a gross exaggeration.
Bob Larson would have you believe that he was
independently wealthy before he entered his ministry, and
that he was really doing it for his love of the kids. In
a 1992 interview with Michael Roberts of Westword
magazine, he explained his wealth this way:
"A caller came on the air the other day,' he says,
and made the comment, Is it true that you were a
self-made millionaire before you began the ministry?' I
said no, but I was very close to it, and I had traveled
lecturing professionally for a number of years, before I
ever got involved in the ministry, and was making very,
very large sums of money at the time'."
And on a Denver radio broadcast, he attributed some of
his wealth to his 'success' in the music world:" I have
been involved in gainful employment for 30 years; I was
making a pile of money as a teenager, playing in rock and
roll." But once again, Larson's proud words shatter on
those unforgiving rocks of reality. During his 1991
divorce, he and his ex-wife gave the following testimony:
"Q: [by Mr. Plaut, Bob Larson's attorney] Mr. Larson,
would you tell us as far as lifestyle goes how you and
Mrs. Larson have lived, starting again at the beginning
of the marriage and bringing us up to date.
A: Well, the lifestyle was pretty austere in the
beginning. We had no possessions at the time of the
marriage. I had a car that I was making payments on and
a few hundred dollars in the bank. And it was pretty
much that way for quite a while, until I got involved in
selling books and speaking. And then, as Mr. Guthery
pointed out earlier, there was really no serious
escalation in our lifestyle until the last few years,
when the cumulative success of building the organization
allowed the organization to compensate me much better
than they had."
"Q: ([To Mrs. Larson] By Mr. Frazin [her attorney] What
exactly did you do -- what were your duties when you
first got started with the ministry?
A: [Kathy Larson] As Bob described, when we first got
the min istry, we had a car with payments and a little
trailer we pulled behind the car. And eventually then
we bought a trailer house we pulled behind the car ...
It was a very humble beginning...."
First, even if Bob made a pile of money playing rock and
roll, it was all gone when he married Kathy during 1968.
Second, if he was nearly a millionaire when he opened the
ministry, and barely a millionaire now, he cannot possibly
account for his statement that "there was really no
serious escalation in [their] lifestyle until the last few
years." Therefore, either he lied in court ... or on the
air. When the dust settles, this much is obvious: Bob did
not make his fortune in real estate, rock and roll, or
anywhere else. He made it from the ministry -- he has not
held a real job since he dropped out of college. What
a tangled web we weave ... when we practise to deceive!
In the Evangelical Press interview, Larson claimed:
"World didn't talk to radio station owners' ... We have
not had a single radio station cancel us or be less than
100 percent supportive'." But in a fundraising letter
dated January 27, 1992, he told his contributors that
"Satan did everything possible to destroy me last year ...
four of our top ten stations forced me off the air."
Another station, KSLR in San Antonio, reportedly was sued
by the Ministry after it pulled Talk-Back, even though
Larson claimed in a news conference that he "would never
sue a brother." If World's people had talked to
Larson's former affiliates, they would have caught him in
yet another lie. On his March 17, 1993 broadcast, Bob
Larson publicly charged that the Mormon church had spawned
a sinister scheme to destroy his ministry, and that he was
forced from the air in Calgary as a result of their
effort. However, when I spoke with that station's
operations manager, and played her a taped excerpt of
Bob's on-air claims, her response was one of astonishment.
"It wasn't like that at all," she said adamantly.
It wasn't like that at all. That theme reverberates
throughout any discussion concerning the antics of Bob
Larson ... but nowhere is it more pronounced as in his
financial information. For years, Bob has been claim
ing that he is fighting to stay on your station, clev
erly painting the misleading impression that the Min
istry is on the knife-edge of financial disaster. But
if its' audited financial statement is any indication,
the Ministry is in the very flower of fiscal health:
BOB LARSON MINISTRIES
CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEET
DECEMBER 31, 1991
Cash and marketable securities $ 1,767,708
Other current assets 332,580
Total current assets 2,100,288
Fixed assets (net of depreciation) 937,351
Total assets $ 3,037,639
LIABILITIES AND FUND BALANCE
Current liabilities $ 396,022
Long-term debt 498,117
Total liabilities 894,139
Fund balance 2,143,500
Total liabilities and fund balance $ 3,037,639
During 1991, Bob Larson Ministries had a surplus of
more than $246,000 ... and in 1990, that surplus was
over $500,000! We should all be in such desperate
Larson's difficulties with the truth spill over into his
personal financial situation as well. On the air, Bob has
stated that he draws a $69,000  yearly salary from the
Ministry ... which not only seems reasonable, but
downright modest. But as might be expected, documents
filed with the Jefferson County (Colo.) District Court in
connection with his divorce  -- signed under penalty
of perjury -- tell a different tale. The following is an
estimate of Larson's compensation package for 1990, based
upon that information, documents filed with the Internal
Revenue service, and interviews with former BLM employees:
Bobby E. ("Bob") Larson
Estimated(A) 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 allowance 33,000
BLM - Retirement allowance 50,500
BLM - Housing allowance:
Mortgage payments 22,512
Utilities, etc. 4,980
Compensation - Bob Larson Ministries 217,492(B)
Direct compensation - BLM subsidiaries:
BLM Canada - Consulting fees 51,084
Salary - Int'l Broadcasting Ntwk. (IBN) 40,000(C)
IBN - Auto allowance 4,344
Total direct compensation from Ministry activities 312,920
Compensation - book sales:
BLM - Secular advertising for books 72,833(D)
BLM - Ghost-writers' compensation 20,000(E)
BLM - Imputed profits on book sales 80,000(F)
Total compensation from Ministry activities $ 497,753G
A) The 1990 income figures are derived from the statement
of monthly income provided by Bob Larson to the Jefferson
County (Colorado) District Court in an affidavit signed
under penalty of perjury. All other notes will be
explained in the endnote section.
From this information, it appears self-evident that the
_real_ mission of Bob Larson Ministries is to minister to
the extravagant financial needs of Bob Larson! The kids
are just an alibi.
But the uncontested crown jewel in the labyrinth of Bob
Larson's lies is the claim that HE wrote his best-selling
novel, Dead Air. On his Jan. 29, 1993 broadcast -- which
he called "the most candid, direct program I've ever
done" -- he said that:
"Lori did help me some with the writing of this book,
primarily in just adding a little color ... and contrary
to what the article states, the book was nearly completed
-- she had nothing to do with the plot, the characters
... anything in the book whatsoever."
If Bob was telling the truth, then Lori Boespflug's role
in the writing of Dead Air was minuscule at best. Thus,
it seems strange that Bob's attorney, William T. Abbott,
would offer him this advice:
"With the passing of each day, I become more and more
concerned about your potential liability to Lori in
connection with Dead Air and its sequels. The time
table is immediate. You will soon know if Dead Air is
to be a publishing success and, quite possibly, if
theatrical rights are to be optioned. Assuming success,
and knowing the role Lori has played, it would amaze me
if she is not sufficiently astute to use the opportunity
to both secure her financial future and to launch her
own literary career."
The logic here is inescapable: If as Bob insists, he
wrote Dead Air, then there wasn't any need for advice. As
such, that letter never should have been written in the
first place -- and it couldn't possibly be stolen, as he
has asserted. On the other hand, if he did not write the
best-selling novel that bears his name, then he has
knowingly and deliberately deceived his nationwide
audience. Either way, I submit to you that Bob's
credibility is absolutely shot.
For even when Bob 'bares his soul', he lies through his teeth.
1 "Bob Larson Talks Back' About World Magazine
Investigation," Twin Cities Christian [Mpls/St. Paul,
MN], 18 Mar. 1993, p. 5A, col. 5.
2 Bob Larson, Hell on Earth (Carol Stream, IL: Creation
House, 1974), author biography on dual jacket.
3 Jon Trott, "Bob Larson's Ministry Comes Under
Scrutiny," Cornerstone, Vol. 21, Issue 100, Feb., 1993,
p. 18, advance copy, courtesy Jon Trott (hereinafter,
4 Jay Grelen and Doug LeBlanc, "This is Me, This is
Real," World, Vol. 7, No. 32, 23 Jan. 1993, p. 11
5 Cornerstone, p. 18.
6 Bob Larson, "Talk-Back With Bob Larson," Radio
broadcast, Jan. 5, 1993.
7 World, p. 11.
8 Michael Roberts, "The Evil That Men Do," Westword, May
27-Jun 2, 1992, p. 12.
9 Bob Larson, "Prepare For War," Radio broadcast, Jan.
10 Larson v. Larson, No. 91 DR 226 (Jefferson County
(Colo.) Dist. Ct., Filed Jan. 28, 1991), Record, p.
111-112 [emphasis mine].
11 Ibid., p. 146 [emphasis mine].
12 Based upon discussions with BLM insiders, I consider
his publishing efforts to be an integral part of his
ministry work. BLM staffers do the lion's share of the
underlying research, editing, and possibly writing for
many of "Bob's" best-selling books.
13 "Bob Larson
Talks Back'," p. 5A, col. 4. 3
14 Bob Larson, Letter, Jan. 27, 1992 (ghost-written by
Lori Boespflug; the stations were owned by Salem
Communications, Camarillo, CA) [emphasis mine]. Copy
15 Arthur Matthews (Senior Editor, World magazine),
Telephone interview, March, 1993; my call to KSLR has
not been returned.
16 Ibid., ibid.
17 Bob Larson, "Talk-Back with Bob Larson," Radio
broadcast, Mar. 17, 1993.
18 Name withheld by request, Telephone interview, Mar. 18,
1993. Copy of letter on file.
19 Bob Larson Ministries, 1991 Consolidated Balance Sheet,
p. 2 (Obtained from Bob Larson Ministries, Aug. 12,
1992, copy on file).
20 Ibid., p. 3.
21 Bob Larson Ministries, 1990 federal Form 990, p. 1
(copy on file).
22 Alan Dumas, "Air Raid!", Rocky Mountain News Sunday
Magazine, 22 Sept. 1991, p. 14-M; see also Bob Larson,
"Prepare For War," Radio broadcast, Jan. 29, 1993.
23 "Affidavit with Respect to Financial Affairs of Bobby
E. Larson," Larson v. Larson, ibid., signed July 12,
24 Bob Larson, "Talk-Back With Bob Larson," Radio
broadcast, Jan. 29, 1993.
25 Ibid., ibid.
26 William T. Abbott, Letter, July 8, 1991 [emphasis
mine]. Copy on file; see Corner stone, supra note 3,
p. 41, for a complete text of the letter.
NOTES TO THE ESTIMATE OF LARSON'S 1990 MINISTRY INCOME:
B Documents filed with the Internal Revenue Service show
Larson's total compensation from Bob Larson Ministries
to be $222,237 -- almost $5,000 HIGHER than the figure
reported in the affidavit. Note also that a $175,000
bonus, ostensibly paid as compensation for the
forbearance of salary by Larson in previous years, has
not been included in this calcu lation; according to
courtroom testimony, it was paid in 1989.
C According to sources within BLM -- corroborated in part
by courtroom testimony -- IBN's primary function is to
distribute Larson's "Talk-Back" radio broadcasts; any
business it conducts with other ministries is, for the
most part, purely incidental.
D According to BLM sources, Larson does not reimburse BLM
or IBN for air time spent promoting his books. The
"retail" value of this 'incidental' benefit is a
staggering ($10 per 1/2-minute spot x 2 spots/day on
each station x 170 stations = $3,400/day -- or over
$800,000/year! Still, there IS something to be said for
volume discounts. The figure used is a quick
approximation, based on a rough estimate that 1/60th of
the "Talk-Back" air time is dedicated to "book
promotion," and his program is substantially subsidized
(55-60% of the total cost of air time, based on
estimates from radio station managers) by locally-based
E This figure was based primarily upon the testimony of
Lori Boespflug, who claimed to have spent over 1,000
hours during 1990 on the writing of Dead Air, and has
time sheets to prove it. Larson has since publicly
admitted that his research staffers produce so- called
"briefing books," which he uses as the research for his
many books. He has not, however, confirmed staffers'
allegations that they do most of the writing and
editing. The $20,000 figure is therefore conservative,
but not unreasonably so. Incidentally, Boespflug told
me that she was "about 90% finished" with Abaddon when
she was fired by Bob Larson; it will be interesting to
compare her draft copy with the final published product.
F This figure was based upon testimony from several
sources -- including an agreement between Larson and
Dead Air publisher Thomas Nelson. Evidently, at the
close of 1990, Larson and his lawyers drew up an
agreement which enabled the Ministry to benefit from the
sale of books as "premiums," but prior to that, it is
believed that Larson garnered most of the benefit from
G According to courtroom testimony, the total income
reported on the Larson's 1990 fed eral income tax return
was $403,310, of which $39,300 was directly attributable
to tax able dividends and interest. If Larson's pre-tax
income from Ministry activity in this estimate was
reported as expected, he should have received roughly
$70,000 in bona fide royalties, after expenses -- which
is in line with reasonable expectations.
Copyright 1993 Kenneth L. Smith. Please direct your
questions to the author at P.O. Box 280305, Lakewood, CO
80228 or Scott Mikusko at firstname.lastname@example.org. This copyrighted
article may be redistributed freely through all E-Mail systems,
public and private e-mail posts, provided the author is
mentioned as source.
Ken Smith, a CPA, is a second-year law student at the
University of Denver. He also has a Masters Degree in
Taxation at the University of Denver.
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