Who is Pat Robertson?
Pat Robertson (born March 22, 1930) is an American media mogul, executive chairman, and a former Southern Baptist minister, who generally supports conservative Christian ideals. He presently serves as Chancellor of Regent University and Chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network.
Robertson has a distinguished career as the founder of several major organizations and corporations as well as a university: The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), the International Family Entertainment Inc. (ABC Family Channel), Regent University, the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ), the Founders Inn and Conference Center, the Christian Coalition, a Boeing 757 Flying Hospital, Operation Blessing International Relief and Development Corporation, and CBN Asia.
He is a best selling author and the host of The 700 Club, a Christian News and TV program broadcast live weekdays on the ABC Family Channel via satellite from CBN studios, as well as on channels throughout the United States, and on CBN network affiliates worldwide.
The son of U.S. Senator A. Willis Robertson, Robertson is a Southern Baptist and was active as an ordained minister with that denomination for many years, but holds to a charismatic theology not traditionally common among Southern Baptists. He unsuccessfully campaigned to become the Republican Party's nominee in the 1988 presidential election. As a result of his seeking political office, he no longer serves in an official role for any church. His media and financial resources make him a recognized, influential, and controversial public voice for conservative Christianity in the United States.
Robertson was born in Lexington, Virginia, into a prominent political family. His parents were Absalom Willis Robertson, a conservative Democratic United States Senator, and his wife Gladys Churchill (née Willis). He married Adelia "Dede" Elmer on August 26, 1954. His family includes four children, among them Gordon P. Robertson and Tim Robertson and, as of mid-2005, 14 grandchildren.
At a young age, Robertson was nicknamed Pat by his six-year-old brother, Willis Robertson, Jr., who enjoyed patting him on the cheeks when he was a baby while saying "pat, pat, pat". As he got older, Robertson thought about which first name he would like people to use. He considered "Marion" to be effeminate, and "M. Gordon" to be affected, so he opted for his childhood nickname "Pat".
His strong awareness for the importance of names in the creation of a public image showed itself again during his presidential run when he threatened to sue NBC news for calling him a "television evangelist", which later became "televangelist", at a time when Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker were objects of scandal.
In 1956 Robertson found his faith through Dutch missionary Cornelius Vanderbreggen, who impressed Robertson both by his lifestyle and his message. Vanderbreggen quoted Proverbs (3:5, 6), "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths", which Robertson considers to be the "guiding principle" of his life. He was ordained as a minister of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1961.
In 1960, Robertson established the Christian Broadcasting Network in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He started it by buying a small UHF station in nearby Portsmouth. Later in 1977 he purchased a local Leased access cable TV channel in the Hampton Roads area and called it CBN. Originally he went door-to-door in Virginia Beach, Hampton Roads, and other surrounding areas asking Christians to buy cable boxes so that they could receive his new channel.
He also canvassed local churches in the Virginia Beach area to do the same, and solicited donations through public speaking engagements at local churches and on CBN. One of his friends, John Giminez, the pastor of Rock Church Virginia Beach, was influential in helping Robertson establish CBN with donations, as well as offering the services of volunteers from his church.
CBN is now seen in 180 countries and broadcast in 71 languages. He founded the CBN Cable Network, which was renamed the CBN Family Channel in 1988 and later simply the Family Channel. When the Family Channel became too profitable for Robertson to keep it under the CBN umbrella without endangering CBN's non-profit status, he formed International Family Entertainment Inc. in 1990 with the Family Channel as its main subsidiary.
Robertson sold the Family Channel to the News Corporation in 1997, which renamed it Fox Family. A condition of the sale was that the station would continue airing Robertson's television program, The 700 Club, twice a day in perpetuity, regardless of any changes of ownership. The channel is now owned by Disney and run as "ABC Family". On December 3, 2007, Robertson resigned as chief executive of CBN; he was succeeded by his son, Gordon.
Robertson founded CBN University in 1977 on CBN's Virginia Beach campus. It was renamed Regent University in 1989. Robertson serves as its chancellor. He is also founder and president of the American Center for Law & Justice, a major public interest law firm headquartered in Washington, D.C. and associated with Regent University School of Law in Virginia Beach, Virginia, that defends Constitutional freedoms and conservative Christian ideals.
In 1994, he was a signer of the document Evangelicals and Catholics Together.
1988 presidential bid
In September 1986, Robertson announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination for President of the United States. Robertson said he would pursue the nomination only if three million people signed up to volunteer for his campaign by September 1987. Three million responded, and by the time Robertson announced he would be running in September 1987, he also had raised millions of dollars for his campaign fund. He surrendered his ministerial credentials and turned leadership of CBN over to his son, Tim. His campaign, however, against incumbent Vice President George H. W. Bush, was seen as a long shot.
Robertson ran on a standard conservative platform. Among his policies, he wanted to ban pornography, reform the education system, and eliminate departments such as the Department of Education and the Department of Energy. He also supported a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget.
Robertson's campaign got off to a strong second-place finish in the Iowa caucus, ahead of Bush. He did poorly in the subsequent New Hampshire primary, however, and was unable to be competitive once the multiple-state primaries began. Robertson ended his campaign before the primaries were finished.
His best finish was in Washington, winning the majority of caucus delegates. He later spoke at the 1988 Republican National Convention in New Orleans and told his remaining supporters to cast their votes for Bush, who ended up winning the nomination and the election. He then returned to CBN and has remained there as a religious broadcasting broadcaster.
Political service and activism
Robertson served as the past president of the Council for National Policy. In 1982, he served on the Victims of Crime Task Force for President Reagan. In Virginia, he served on the Board of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and on the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors.
After his unsuccessful presidential campaign, Robertson started the Christian Coalition, a 1.7 million member Christian right organization that campaigned mostly for conservative candidates. Billy McCormack, a Southern Baptist pastor in Shreveport, Louisiana, served as one of the four directors of the coalition as well as its vice president. The coalition was sued by the Federal Election Commission "for coordinating its activities with Republican candidates for office in 1990, 1992 and 1994 and failing to report its expenditures".
Robertson was a fundraiser for the Nicaraguan Contras. In March 1986, he told Israeli Foreign Affairs that South Africa was a major contributor to the Reagan administration's efforts to help the anti-Sandinista forces.
In 1994, the Coalition was fined for "improperly [aiding] then Representative Newt Gingrich (R-GA) and Oliver North, who was then the Republican Senate nominee in Virginia." Robertson left the Coalition in 2001.
Robertson has been a governing member of the Council for National Policy (CNP): Board of Governors 1982, President Executive Committee 1985–86, member, 1984, 1988, 1998.
On November 7, 2007, Robertson announced that he was endorsing Rudy Giuliani to be the Republican nominee in the 2008 Presidential election.
While usually associated with the political right, Pat Robertson has endorsed environmental causes. He appeared in a commercial with Al Sharpton, joking about this, and urging people to join the We can Solve it Campaign against global warming.
In January 2009, on a broadcast of The 700 Club, Robertson stated that he is "adamantly opposed" to the division of Jerusalem between Israel and the Palestinians. He also stated that Armageddon is "not going to be fought at Megiddo" but will be the "battle of Jerusalem," when "the forces of all nations come together and try to take Jerusalem away from the Jews.
Jews are not going to give up Jerusalem — they shouldn't — and the rest of the world is going to insist they give it up." Robertson added that Jerusalem is a "spiritual symbol that must not be given away" because "Jesus Christ the Messiah will come down to the part of Jerusalem that the Arabs want," and that's "not good."
Robertson has repeatedly called for the legalization of marijuana, saying that it should be treated in a manner analogous to the regulation of alcohol and tobacco. Robertson has said, "I just think it's shocking how many of these young people wind up in prison and they get turned into hard-core criminals because they had a possession of a very small amount of controlled substance. The whole thing is crazy."
Controversies and criticisms
As a commentator and minister, Robertson has occasionally addressed controversial topics, and made a number of bold statements to draw attention to a wide range of issues that have attracted criticism as well as support. Some of his remarks have been the subject of national and international media attention prompting responses from politicians. Robertson has remained an influential figure regardless of his occasional history of bold or controversial remarks.
Robertson's service as a minister has included the belief in the healing power of God. He has cautioned believers to be aware that some Protestant denominations may harbor the spirit of the Antichrist; prayed to deflect hurricanes; denounced Hinduism as "demonic" and Islam as "Satanic."
Robertson has denounced left-wing views of feminism, activism regarding homosexuality, abortion and liberal college professors. Critics claim Robertson had business dealings in Africa with former presidents Charles Taylor of Liberia and Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire who both had been internationally denounced for claims of human rights violations. Robertson was criticized worldwide for his call for Hugo Chávez’s assassination and for his remarks concerning Ariel Sharon's ill-health as an act of God.
Robertson made American national news in October 2003 for interviews with author Joel Mowbray about his book Dangerous Diplomacy, a book critical of the United States Department of State. Robertson's commentary implied that if a small nuclear device were to be found at the State Department, such a thing might wake up America's leaders to actually realize a potential threat; however, government officials expressed disdain at the thought of such a scenario.
Planned Parenthood is teaching kids to fornicate, teaching people to have adultery, every kind of bestiality, homosexuality, lesbianism — everything that the Bible condemns.
The week of September 11, 2001, Robertson discussed the terror attacks with Jerry Falwell, who said that "the ACLU has to take a lot of blame for this" in addition to "the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays, and the lesbians [who have] helped [the terror attacks of September 11th] happen." Robertson replied, "I totally concur." Both evangelists were seriously criticized by President George W. Bush for their commentary, for which Falwell later issued an apology.
Less than two weeks after Hurricane Katrina killed 1,836 people, Robertson implied on the September 12th broadcast of The 700 Club that the storm was God's punishment in response to America's abortion policy. He suggested that September 11 and the disaster in New Orleans "could... be connected in some way".
On November 9, 2009, Robertson said that Islam is "a violent political system bent on the overthrow of the governments of the world and world domination." He went on to elaborate that "you're dealing with not a religion, you're dealing with a political system, and I think we should treat it as such, and treat its adherents as such as we would members of the communist party, members of some fascist group."
Robertson's response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake also drew controversy and condemnation. Robertson claimed that Haiti's founders had sworn a "pact to the Devil" in order to liberate themselves from the French slave owners and indirectly attributed the earthquake to the consequences of the Haitian people being "cursed" for doing so.
CBN later issued a statement saying that Robertson's comments "were based on the widely-discussed 1791 slave rebellion led by Dutty Boukman at Bois Caiman, where the slaves allegedly made a famous pact with the devil in exchange for victory over the French." Various figures in mainline and evangelical Christianity have on occasion disavowed some of Robertson's remarks.
Several times near New Year, Robertson has announced that God told him several truths or events that would happen in the following year. "I have a relatively good track record," he said. "Sometimes I miss."
In late 1976, Robertson predicted that the end of the world was coming in October or November 1982. In a May 1980 broadcast of The 700 Club he stated, "I guarantee you by the end of 1982 there is going to be a judgment on the world."
In September 2011, Robertson and several others who incorrectly predicted various dates for the end of world were jointly awarded an Ig Nobel Prize for "teaching the world to be careful when making mathematical assumptions and calculations".
2004: Bush landslide
In January 2004, Robertson said that God told him President Bush will be re-elected in a "blowout" in November. "I think George Bush is going to win in a walk", Robertson told viewers of his "700 Club" program. "I really believe I'm hearing from the Lord it's going to be like a blowout election in 2004. It's shaping up that way." Bush did in fact win re-election, but not in a landslide. The 2004 race between Bush and Kerry was one of the closest large elections in history.
2006: Pacific Northwestern tsunami
In May 2006, Robertson declared that storms and possibly a tsunami would hit America's coastline sometime in 2006. Robertson supposedly received this revelation from God during an annual personal prayer retreat in January. The claim was repeated four times on The 700 Club.
On May 8, 2006, Robertson said, "If I heard the Lord right about 2006, the coasts of America will be lashed by storms." On May 17, 2006, he elaborated, "There well may be something as bad as a tsunami in the Pacific Northwest."
While this claim didn't garner the same level of controversy as some of his other statements, it was generally received with mild amusement by the Pacific Northwest media. The History Channel's initial airing of its new series, Mega Disasters, debut episode "West Coast Tsunami", was broadcast the first week of May.
2007: Terror attack
On the January 2, 2007, broadcast of The 700 Club, Robertson said that God spoke to him and told him that "mass killings" were to come during 2007, due to a terrorist attack on the United States. He added, "The Lord didn't say nuclear. But I do believe it will be something like that." When a terrorist attack failed to happen in 2007, Robertson said, in January 2008, "All I can think is that somehow the people of God prayed and God in his mercy spared us."
2008: Worldwide violence and American recession
On the January 2, 2008 episode of The 700 Club, Pat Robertson predicted that 2008 would be a year of worldwide violence. He also predicted that a recession would occur in the United States that would be followed by a stock market crash by 2010. However, there was a decrease in overall deaths for the period, and the American economy had already entered a recession in 2007, with increased household debt and the collapse of financial institutions.
2008: Mideast meltdown
In October 2008, Robertson posted a press release on the Georgian conflict speculating that the conflict is a Russian ploy to enter the Middle East, and that instability caused by a predicted pre-emptive strike by Israel on Iran would result in Syria's and Iran's launching nuclear strikes on other targets. He also said that if the United States were to oppose Russia's expansion, nuclear strikes on American soil are also pending. "We will suffer grave economic damage, but will not engage in military action to stop the conflict. However, we may not be spared nuclear strikes against coastal cities. In conclusion, it is my opinion that we have between 75 and 120 days before the Middle East starts spinning out of control."
2009: Economic chaos and recovery
On the January 1, 2009 broadcast of The 700 Club, Robertson said, "If I'm hearing [God] right, gold will go to about $1900 an ounce and oil to $300 a barrel." He also suggested that Americans would broadly accept socialism. Despite these predictions, he also said that economically, "things are getting ready to turn around."
2012: Presidential election
On January 4, 2012, Robertson reported that God had spoken to him and he "thinks He showed me the next president" but wouldn't name who it is. He did give an indication that it wouldn't be President Obama since Robertson said God told him Obama's views were at "odds with the majority", but left some room for interpretation if the 2012 election expands beyond a two-person race.
- "Pat Robertson." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (with minor edits), under GFDL.