By Ken Smith@ In an interview with the Evangelical Press, Bob Larson boasted that +quot;No
By Ken Smith@
In an interview with the Evangelical Press, Bob Larson
boasted that "Nobody is accusing me of doing any thing
illegal, immoral, or unethical."F@ 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."F@
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."F@ 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.F@ The drummer's father was an officer in
the organization; HE booked the gig.
The song: A parody of "Charlie Brown."F@
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.F@ 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.F@
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'."F@
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."F@ 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."F@
"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 begin ning...."F@
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.F@ 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'."F@ 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."F@
Another station, KSLR in San Antonio, reportedly was sued
by the Ministry after it pulled Talk-BackF@, even though
Larson claimed in a news conference that he "would never
sue a brother."F@ 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.F@ 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,"F@ 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 SHEET19
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 $246,000F@ ... and in 1990, that surplus was
over $500,000!F@ 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 F@ 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 F@ -- 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"F@ -- 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."F@
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."F@
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.
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
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. Published by permission.
May 20, 1993
The wicked man flees though no one pursues,
but the righteous are as bold as a lion.
-- Prov. 28:1
Mr. David Neff, Managing Editor
465 Gunderson Dr.
Carol Stream, IL 60188
Re: "Bob on the Block"
Dear Mr. Neff:
I respectfully submit the following statement for publication in
your magazine -- with the proviso that it be printed in its entirety,
and afforded exposure similar to that of the aforementioned article.
Moreover, it is not to be edited without my express written approval.
Considering that CT "quoted" me without ever bothering to conduct an
interview, I am certain that you will understand when I say that I am
not overly impressed with the competence of your editorial staff.
As you have indicated that Mr. Morgan left you "with the impression
that he had interviewed [me]," I will, for the moment, assume that he
was acting on his own, and that you are indeed committed to reporting
the facts (and saving CT's reputation). Hence, you should be willing
to do whatever it takes to redeem yourselves, and I fully expect that
you will afford me total and complete cooperation. But you ought not
forget that I will be making this information widely available within
the evangelical community; the eyes of Christendom are upon you.
Please be apprised that I will also send copies of this letter and
the supporting documentation to the Washington Post, New York Times,
Los Angeles Times, Dallas Morning News, and 60 Minutes ... not to
mention Cornerstone and World magazines.
CT on the Block?
CHRISTIANITY TODAY. Founded by Billy Graham. Nurtured by the likes
of Harold Lindsell and Carl Henry. For decades, the name was
synonymous with journalistic integrity.
My, but how the mighty have fallen!
When I brought the Bob Larson story to CT in July of 1992, the
evidence indicated three points of serious concern: Larson did not
write "his" best-selling novel, Dead Air; he was getting an
exorbitant compensation package from the Ministry, and he was grossly
misrepresenting the Ministry's financial needs. Still, despite the
fact that two Christian journalists checked my findings
independently, Tim Morgan's article, "Bob on the Block," scarcely
even alluded to them. Further more, Morgan steadfastly refused to
interview anyone with information which would be construed as harmful
to Larson. To say that Morgan performed a `whitewash job' on Larson
would be a colossal understatement. But did he do so of his own
volition ... or was he specifically ordered to write a pro-Larson
piece? That is the question which CT must now answer.
Without question, the most glaring miscue in the CT article was its
blithe dismissal of Lori Boespflug's claim to the authorship of
"Larson's" best-selling novel, Dead Air. As WorldF@ and
CornerstoneF@ magazines both duly noted, it was buttressed by a
wealth of documentary evidence, including a letter from Larson's own
attorney. What's more, Larson authenticated that letter himself ...
by claiming it was "stolen."F@ After all, if he HAD written Dead
Air, that letter never should have been written in the first place,
and thus, could not possibly have been stolen. Hence, by definition,
Larson has to be lying about something, and any cub reporter with the
intelligence of a common garden implement should have been able to
recognize it. As such, it seems utterly inconceivable that a
respected senior reporter like Morgan could have overlooked it. And
even if, perchance, Morgan was unable to recognize that fact on his
own, it was spelled out for him in graphic detail in my pamphlet, The
Two Faces of Bob.F@
Although I would have preferred not to mention it, there is a
salacious aspect to this story which, in light of Larson's allegations
of sexual improprieties on Boespflug's part, must come to light.
While it is true that she was fired for living with a man, as the
following excerpts from an "employment contract" signed by both her
and Larson suggests, there was more to her dismissal than met the
MEMO TO: BOB LARSON
FROM: LORI BOESPFLUG
RE: EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT
It is my understanding at this date, that to remain employed
with Bob Larson Ministries that the following conditions be in
1. My cellular car phone be returned to the organization, and
I no longer retain sole usage. I also understand that any
phonecalls made to 469-**** are to be reimbursed by me as
personal calls, misusing organizational property.
5. All gifts and items of any merit or value [including, among
other things, a diamond frog broach valued at $2,800 F@ that
you have extended to me for any reason have been returned to you
as of this date.
6. I will cease any outside friendship and/or contact with the
man that installed my carpeting F[whose number, incidentally, is
Clisted in Paragraph 1 of said Agreement]@, due to the
confidentiality and secure nature of my job should my position
be re-instated [sic]."F@
That document, in confluence with others which CT has had in its'
possession for roughly nine months, exposes a multitude of Larson's
sins. First, it is clear from Boespflug's stellar personnel
reviewsF@ and prodigious salary increases that Larson was
ecstatic with her job performance. Second, the `business reason'
given in the contract for the need for her to break off the
relationship is facially ludicrous. There is thus only one plausible
explanation for those peculiar provisions: Larson was hopelessly
infatuated with her ... and insanely jealous, to boot.
According to Boespflug, Larson continued to insinuate himself into
her life ... writing passionate love sonnets, and calling her at all
hours to make certain that she wasn't seeing anyone else. He tailed
her to various and sundry locations, and even tracked her down at her
daughter's dance recital. There, he fired her -- in full public view
-- on a Saturday night. He called her a slut, a whore, and otherwise
totally humiliated her.F@
Even though I originally brought the story to CT, I was not treated
with any more courtesy. In fact, when I heard that CT was to
interview Larson, I called managing editor David Neff, asking to be
inter viewed.F@ Shortly thereafter, I sent a letter to Neff,
insisting to have such an opportunity.F@ Still, my polite
requests and veiled threats fell on deaf ears -- as did those of
Christian talk-show host John Stewart,F@ who is known for,
among other accomplishments, his role in the expose of Jim Bakker.
It is difficult to imagine how any objective reporter could even
begin to be so obtuse.
The defamatory assault that Morgan perpetrated on my character was
more subtle than that on Ms. Boespflug, but it was effective. You
will note that unlike other individuals mentioned in the article, CT
neglected to list my credentials: I am a certified public accountant,
with some eight years' experience and a master's degree in taxation,
and thus am well qualified to render an opinion as to Larson's finan
cial situation. But by calling me a "Denver-area resident [who has]
made it his avocation to distribute material critical of Larson,"F@
Morgan makes it appear as though I am an ignorant stevedore with some
kind of mindless vendetta against him.
To correct CT's litany of blatant misrepresentations would require
more space than their editorial staff has the courage to grant. But
suffice it to say that while Larson did not receive a salary from his
ministry during the early 1980's, the evidence suggests strongly that
he was quite well-compensated for his time. For instance, he bought
the building the Ministry currently occupies from one David Kramer on
October 2, 1985 for $1,415,000,F@ and, on December 31, 1986, he
sold it to the Ministry for $1,800,000.F@ In less than 15
months, Larson earned a tidy profit of $385,000 ... quite astounding,
given the fact that the Denver real estate market was in a general
downturnF@ during that period. This is "public information":
something that any competent investigative journalist should have
been able to find, had he been put on notice of its possible
existence. And I put CT on notice myself. By the same token, the
evidence is painfully clear that Bob's "one-time, board-initiated
bonus of $150,000"F@ was not included in his 1990 "reported
income" figure of $403,310.F@ After all, the Ministry's 1990
federal tax return clearly listed Bob's total compensation as
$131,879.18 If Morgan can find Bob's $150,000 bonus anywhere on that
return, he truly has missed his calling ... we need him to begin work
on trimming the federal deficit.
When a man with the eloquence of a Bob Larson falls in disgrace, we
all lose a little something. His are the pitiable acts of a
desperate man, who has long forgotten the noble cause to which he had
dedi cated his life. And although he has inflicted great anguish
upon my family, I do not think it appropriate to return insults in
kind. His cure is beyond my power, but he will be in my prayers; I
hope that he will also be in yours.
But the Bob Larson story is now far more than the mundane tale of a
miscreant minister caught with his hand in the till. It is about the
world's number one publisher of Christian literature -- Thomas Nelson
Publications -- rewarding Larson's dishonesty with a contract for the
sequel to Dead Air. It is about Christian radio station owners, like
KLTT's Jack Mortenson, who censored the anti-Larson editorial written
by Denver Christian News editor Joann Bruso.F@ And now, it is
about respected Christian voices like CT and the Evangelical Press --
which evidently have become willing complicitors in a scheme to sweep
Larson's malfeasance under the proverbial rug. They have exchanged
the truth for a lie ... and a couple of dollars' change.
I do expect that you will take further measures appropriate to
rectify this unfortunate situation -- including, but not limited to,
the immediate and unconditional dismissal of Morgan, a profuse and
public apology to both Ms. Boespflug and myself, and the prompt
publication of a feature article concerning the Larson affair.
Please be further advised that, should this dispute fail to be
resolved to my satisfaction, I fully intend to vigorously pursue
any and all legal remedies at my disposal.
Kenneth L. Smith
P.O. Box 280305
Lakewood, CO 80228
1 Jay Grelen and Doug LeBlanc, This is Me, This is Real," World,
Vol. 7, No. 32, 23 Jan. 1993, p. 9.
2 Jon Trott, "Bob Larson's Ministry Comes Under Scrutiny,"
Cornerstone, Vol. 21, Issue 100, Feb. 1993, p. 41.
3 Bob Larson, Radio broadcast, 29 Jan 1993. Tape on file.
4 Copy attached. (Included with the Open Letter)
5 Lori Boespflug, Interview, 16 Jun 1992; supporting document on
file; indepen dent witness available.
6 Copy attached. (Included with the Open Letter)
7 Copy attached. (Included with the Open Letter)
8 Lori Boespflug, Telephone interview, 13/14 Jun 1992.
9 Phone records on file.
10 Copy attached. (Included with the Open Letter)
11 John Stewart, Telephone conversation, 17 May 1993.
12 Tim Morgan, "Bob on the Block," CT, 17 May 1993, p. 41.
13 Copy attached. (Included with the Open Letter)
14 Copy attached. (Included with the Open Letter)
15 Basil Katsakos (certified appraiser), Telephone interview, 17 May
16 Morgan, ibid., p. 42 (allegedly quoting Ken Smith).
17 Copy attached. (Included with the Open Letter)
18 Copy attached. (Included with the Open Letter)
19 Joann Bruso, Telephone conversation, 29 Jan 1993; confirmed by
KLTT station manager Brian Taylor in a later conversation, and
evidenced by an out-of-place reference to 1Tim. 5:20 in the DCN's
March editorial page.
Global note: Ms. Bosepflug has requested that I not use her married
name, on the ground that she fears continued harassment from Mr.
cc: John Stewart, Lori Boespflug, Jim Dobson, Hank Hanegraaff, Harold
Lindsell, Harold Myra, Doug Trauten, others as listed.
ONote: These items have been reprinted from the June 12,
O1993 edition of the Christian Press Report.@
As is mentioned elsewhere in the Christian Press Report,
we hope that the items we publish will, first and foremost,
inspire our readers to pray. Second, we hope that our
news stories will lead you to praise, protest, or take
other appropriate actions.
Ken Smith's expose on Bob Larson is no exception.
However, as the editor of the CPR, I must say that I have
been very relunctant to print Ken Smith's article. I
believe that matters of church discipline should be
handled by the church, rather than by outsiders. Ken
Smith, by his own admission, is not a Christian (or, in
his words, "no longer a professing Christian").
Over the past few years the immoral, sinful practices of
many prominent Christian leaders have been exposed.
Unfortunately, more often than not, it wasn't the Church
that called the charlatans, adulterers and thieves to
task, but rather the world.
Shouldn't that be one of the jobs of the Church? Paul, in
writing to the Corinthians about the sin they tolerated in
their church, said,
...what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you
not judge those who are within the church? But those
who are outside, God judges... (1 Corinthians 5:12-13).
Jesus himself established clear rules for dealing with
believers who sin:
And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private;
if he listens to you, you have on your brother. But if
he does not listen to you, take one or two more with
you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses
every fact may be confirmed. And if he refuses to
listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses
to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a
gentile and a tax-gatherer (Matthew 18:15-17).
Yet, many Christians are very reluctant to apply those
rules. Instead, they often point to Matthew 7:1-5...
Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you
judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of
measure, it will be measured to you. And why do you
look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do
not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can
you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of
your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye?
In hiding behind these verses, while ignoring the balance
of the Scriptures dealing with the issues of judging and
church discipline, many Christians miss wonderful
opportunities for ministry and reconciliation. Look again
at what Jesus said: "If he listens to you, you have won
Here's what Paul told the Galatians:
Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you
who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of
gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too
be tempted (Galatians 6:1).
James, too, encouraged the church to be discerning when it
comes to the issue of discipline, and penned this
My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, and
one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a
sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from
death, and will cover a multitude of sins (James
Jesus' warning recorded in Matthew 7:1-5 addresses not so
much the act of judging, but the attitude and motivation
behind the judgment. The other verses quoted here clearly
show how the church's approach should be different: firm
What can we do, though, when the Church (including
Christian journalists, writers and publishers) refuses
to confront sinful behavior by one of its own?
Like I said, I was reluctant to print Ken Smith's article,
mainly because Ken is not a part of the Church.
Nevertheless, Otruth is truth@. Truth is not ambiguous.
That's why I hope that Ken's articles will indeed inspire
our readers to pray - pray for Bob Larson, pray for the
Christian press, and also pray for Ken Smith (please also
pray for Ken's father who, at "press" time, was hospitalized
with a ruptured aorta).
For the record, I have been able to verify some of the
information Ken has presented, have talked with one of his
main sources (who himself is known by others in the
Christian community as a respectable Christian), and have
sought the counsel of several Christian leaders - all of
whom encouraged me to go ahead and publish this information.
I do not necessarily agree with all of Ken's views. For
one thing, I happen to like _Christianity Today_ (a magazine
known for trying to present a well-balanced point of view
on even the most controversial issues), am a great fan of
_World_ (which I consider to be one of the finest Christian
News Magazines available), and appreciate the ministry of
the _Evangelical Press Association_ (without whom Christian
journalists and publications would miss lots of information
I am confident, however, that in publishing this information,
the Christian Press Report is doing the right thing. As
always, we welcome letters and E-mail responses from our
Stand-alone copies of Ken's two articles and this
editorial will be available for downloading from Christian
BBS Abba II. The file name to look for is OLARSON-0.ZIP@.
OReviewed By Ken Smith@
Abaddon is talk-show host Bob Larson's second foray into
the world of pulp fiction. The long-awaited sequel to
Dead Air, it is the con tinuing story of small-town radio
talk-show host Wes Bryant. Having left the menacing
confines of Clarion, Indiana, Wes re-emerges some six
years later as the manager of Denver's number-one radio
station, KVCE. In the interim, Wes married the mother of
Jennifer, the girl threatened by the Dark Raven in Dead
Air -- but he never went to the trouble of formally
adopting the child. (This becomes a crucial element of
the story, although it wasn't even alluded to until it
Now a precocious teenager, Jennifer becomes enamored
with so-called death-metal music, and begins to display
symptoms which indicate that there may be something wrong
with her beyond normal adolescent rebelliousness. She
is eventually diagnosed as having multiple personality
disorder (MPD), and found to be associated with the same
satanic order she escaped in Dead Air -- the cult of the
Dark Raven was but a part of a larger Federation.
Aided by his son-in-law, policeman and occult expert
Mark Reynolds, and Kenya-born psychiatrist (and seminarian)
Dr. Alistaire Brown, Wes does battle with the Federation
forces, including the general manager of rival radio
station KZOO. The major confrontations take place in
Wes's KVCE studio, at a `haunted house', and a concert
given by hard-rock anti-hero Clint Blade. And the final
one brings the house down, at least, in a manner of
On his nationwide radio program, Talk-Back, Bob Larson
has asserted that those who didn't like Dead Air "would
vomit" when they saw Abaddon. It is difficult to imagine
why; the graphic scenes which caused Larson detractors to
denounce Dead Air as "Christian pornography" are noticeable
only by their absence. They may, however, experience mild
nausea when they see the transparent way in which Larson
uses Abaddon as a vehicle for his unbridled narcissism.
Wes Bryant is Bob Larson as he would like others to see
him: courageous, well-respected, and caring. The
parallels between the two are oppressively blatant, right
down to the scene where Wes spots one kid wearing a "Kill
Wes Bryant" T-shirt. He doubled as his own engineer,
established a "Help Line" to counsel troubled teens, and
was acknowledged by a peer as "the best talk-show host in
the business." F@ Now, does this sound like Bob
Larson talking about Bob Larson ... or what?
Perhaps the most intriguing part of Abaddon is the story
within the story: namely, who wrote what? As noted in
Cornerstone magazine, Bob Larson had contracted with
former Ministry vice-president Lori Boespflug for her
"`I wrote the first hundred pages of the book before
he fired me,' Boespflug told Cornerstone. She provided
us with a copy of her agreement with Bob regarding
Abaddon, which outlines her duties and is dated April
You hereby agree to provide me on or before May 1,
1992 an outline of the first two hundred pages of
the sequel; and on or before July 1, 1992, an
outline of the remaining 200 pages of the sequel.
If so requested by me, said outlines shall contain
or be accompanied by character sketches, narratives,
fact research and sample dialogue...." F@
During my interview with Boespflug in June of 1992, she
claimed to have received cash payments from Larson
pursuant to that agreement. F@ However, Larson gave
her verbal assurances that he would not use her work in
the final product. But although the plot and storyline
have undergone material changes, the principal characters
were essentially those contained in her draft. For
instance, Mark Reynolds, Bryant's policeman son-in-law,
was patterned after one of her former husband's co-workers
... who left the seminary before entering the world of law
Boespflug's forte, an ability to conjure up striking
imagery, seems to come shining through in the following
"A picture of his stepdaughter, Jennifer, was
sitting next to his and Annette's wedding photo on an
end table. Since their marriage five years ago, Wes
had whispered a private prayer of thanksgiving
whenever he saw the wedding picture. The sunlight
sometimes reflected off its crystal frame and made
rainbow prisms that seemed as if God were symbolically
blessing them. But in the early-morning darkness,
light from the outside street lamp made the frame
resemble a distorted mirror." F[3A]@
Such prose is noticeable in the latter stages of the
book -- again, by its absence. Instead, we are treated to
such torpid narrative as, "Anderson led them through the
red room and the black room then past the Dante
inscription." F@ Moreover, the reader is at times
assaulted by more than a page of free-floating dialogue,
F@ and the story itself seems bereft of timetable or
direction. In turn, this raises a legitimate question as
to whether Larson might not have included a few of the
choicest strands from Boespflug's work in `his' final
This hypothesis is further supported by a comparison of
the following passages:
"The sound of a flushing toilet derailed Wes's train
of thought ... He took a bottle of orange juice from
the refrigerator, set it on the counter, then
showered an oatmeal muffin with squeeze margarine."
"Wes took some butter from a plastic tub, spread it
evenly on the toast, and added a layer of raspberry
The first passage is humorous and evocative; the second,
distinctly uninspired. The first Wes is cavalier; the
second, quite meticulous. The first Wes kept squeeze
margarine in the `frig; the second, a tub of butter. It
is almost as if the second Wes didn't really know what the
first Wes was like! F@
Regardless of how one feels about the controversy over
satanic ritual abuse or potential charges of plagiarism,
Abaddon's storyline is both fresh and imaginative.
Unfortunately, it gets lost in a jungle of disjointed
prose and haphazard editing. The lover of good fiction
has reason to ponder what might have been.
At any rate, Abaddon can be said to have served the
author's underlying purposes. It is a forum for Larson's
views on the oft-disputed phenomenon of MPD, and portrays
him (through his alter ego, Wes Bryant) in a positive and
dynamic light. And while it's not apt to mesmerize you
like a Sherlock Holmes mystery, enthrall you like a
Tolkien trilogy, or chill your blood like the best of
Stephen King, it's not a complete waste. It does have one
saving grace: At about 75,000 words, it is a mercifully
1 Bob Larson, Abaddon (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson,
1993), p. 21.
2 Jon Trott, "Bob Larson Ministries Comes Under Scrutiny,"
Corner stone, Vol. 21, Issue 100, Feb. 1993, p. 41,
advance copy, courtesy Jon Trott. (Also reprinted in the
Christian Press Report, 06/12/93.)
3 Lori Boespflug, Interview, June 17, 1992. Said claim is
further supported by an IRS Form 1099 given by Larson to
Boespflug, indicating "Nonemployee Compensation" paid
during that year to be in excess of $11,000.
3 Abaddon, pp. 2-3
4 Ibid., p. 217.
5 E.g., ibid., pp. 206-207.
6 Ibid., p. 6.
7 Ibid., p. 103.
8 Boespflug is not at liberty to shed any real light on
this curious matter. Larson recently sued her for
breach of contract [Bob Larson Ministries v. Boespflug,
No. 93 CV 422 (Jefferson County (Colo.) Dist. Ct.),
filed Mar. 8, 1993.], and went to the additional trouble
of filing a motion for preliminary injunction in a
desperate attempt to `silence' her. Her attorney has
advised me that while she is not presently under any
court-ordered sanction, she has agreed to remain silent
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank