Rev. Robert Schuller, 'Hour Of Power' Host, Dies at 88

Apr 2, 2015
Originally published on April 2, 2015 6:27 pm
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An influential religious figure in the U.S. has died. Robert Schuller was the founder of the Crystal Cathedral mega-church in Southern California. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2013. The televangelist preached to millions of viewers in a career that lasted more than half a century. NPR's Nathan Rott has our remembrance.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "HOUR OF POWER")

ROBERT SCHULLER: This is the day that God has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

NATHAN ROTT, BYLINE: For decades, millions of Americans started their Sundays like this.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "HOUR OF POWER")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: From the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, Calif., welcome to the 30th anniversary celebration of the "Hour Of Power" with Robert Schuller.

ROTT: Schuller started his Sunday service in 1955 at a drive-in movie theater in Orange County, preaching from the top of a snack bar. Years later, he hosted the nation's most-watched religious program, soaring sermons, contagious catch phrases, celebrity guests.

RICHARD FLORY: He also had what I would call a sort of quintessentially American version of evangelicalism.

ROTT: This is Richard Flory, director of research at the University of Southern California's Center for Religion and Civic Culture.

FLORY: Sort of in the Norman Vincent Peale tradition, talked about possibility thinking and overcoming obstacles and recovering from problems in your life through the help of God to become the person that you wanted to be and that you believed God wanted you to be.

ROTT: Schuller called it a theology of self-esteem. Here he is in an interview with the Archive of American Television in 2003.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SCHULLER: Preaching, to me, is helping human beings. I'm in the business of helping human beings at the deepest level.

ROTT: And he did that by using any means available - drive-in sermons, television shows, dozens of books, even the Crystal Cathedral, a 12-story building in Southern California that is made of 10,000 panes of glass. Again, Richard Flory.

FLORY: His strength was to read the culture and to do his ministry within that.

ROTT: Speaking to The Orange County Register, Schuller's stepdaughter said it's fitting that he passed on the week of Easter. She told the paper, he always did everything in grand fashion, it's just like him.

Schuller was 88. Nathan Rott, NPR News, Southern California. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.