Pat Robertson is dead, mourned by no one who can be considered a decent American.
Born in 1930, Marion (Pat) Robertson spent well over a half-century pushing a witch doctor version of extremist right-wing Christianity on the American public. His father was a segregationist U.S. Senator from Virginia named Absalom Robertson, who signed the Southern Manifesto opposing the Brown decision and who was one of four southern senators who refused to meet with Lady Bird Johnson on her 1965 tour of the South. LBJ was so furious that he found William Spong to primary Robertson, a successful challenge. Robertson was so extreme that even other southern Democrats were glad to see him go when he lost the 1966 primary.
He passed these wonderful values down to his son Pat. Young Pat went to Washington & Lee University (shocking I know) where he graduated with a BA in History. I’m sure that was some fine Dunning School history taught at that bastion of the Old South in the late 40s and early 50s. Robertson certainly imbibed it plenty in any case. He joined the Marines and avoided the Korean War through his connections. Robertson came to prominence in part by claiming he was a Korean War hero, but in fact his daddy got him out of any meaningful service. This rumor was confirmed by Pete McCloskey, former Republican congressman who served with Robertson in Korea. Pat actually mostly hung out in an office in Japan. When McCloskey went public with this in 1986, Robertson sued him for liable but of course ended up dropping the case and paying his court fees since he admitted that all the facts were actually true. But this shirking definitely did not dampen Robertson’s love of other kids dying in wars. No sir and/or madam.
Robertson went to Yale Law School and graduated in 1955, but failed the bar exam. Then, deciding against trying again, he figured he could make more money in the preaching grift and went to The Biblical Seminary in New York, graduating in 1959. He was ordained as a Southern Baptist minister in 1961. Now, the Baptist split happened in 1845 over the issue of slavery. So it made sense for Robertson to join the Southern Baptists since effectively believed in the subjugation of black people to white people. He never left those positions. After the Haitian earthquake in 2010, Robertson went back to his whole “fear of Satanism and black people” playbook and blamed the Haitians themselves for the earthquake, saying they made an actual deal with Satan to win their slave rebellion against the French and this is what they get for that deal. This sort of statement was bog standard normal for Robertson through his entire career.
Robertson initially supported Jimmy Carter in 1976. Carter was evangelical so he seemed like Robertson’s kind of guy. He went so far as to come up with a list of evangelicals he wanted Carter to appoint to public office. But when Carter hosted a group of gays and lesbians, Robertson was outraged and began to compare him unfavorably to Richard Nixon, saying “God wants stability. It’s better to have a stable government under a crook than turmoil under an honest man.” That’s a lesson Pat would learn well. It was during the Carter years that Robertson really built his TV empire, including multiple television stations and a full time news director, and multiple stations overseas.
By the way, according to Pat, who was at fault for American slavery? White people? Ha ha, no. Muslims! He once stated, “The Islamic people, the Arabs, were the ones who captured Africans, put them in slavery, and sent them to America as slaves. Why would the people in America want to embrace the religion of slavers?” Smart take Pat. Smart take. No doubt you are explaining this to Satan as we speak. I also love how white Americans had no agency in slavery, but really why spend time actually pointing out the problems in Pat Robertson’s statements?
From the very beginning, Robertson was on the grift. For that, he founded the Christian Broadcasting Network in 1960 in Virginia Beach, making him, along with Billy Graham, among the first preachers to realize how TV could make them a tremendous amount of money, sorry I mean, “help their ministry.” He took it to cable as soon as that became viable, in 1977, and actively campaigned in Virginia for Christians to buy cable boxes so he could watch them. His famed show, The 700 Club, started in 1966 and continues to plague the airwaves today with a combination of lunacy, Christian extremism, and generally idiotic material. Robertson gave Jim Bakker his start on the show; he and Tammy Faye gave evangelical Christianity only the best reputation. Like any good grifter, say our ex-president for example, Robertson built on this success to start his own university. Originally called CBN University (have to include that brand name!) it was changed to Regent University in 1989, where it trains young religious extremists to the present. The school has an abysmal academic reputation, consistently near the very bottom of all rankings, but then a good education is not why young religious extremists go there.
Over the decades, Robertson’s grift has morphed into many projects. In 1990, he founded and became president of something called International Family Entertainment, which was mostly running The Family Channel, which over the years has become Fox Family Channel, ABC Family, and now Freeform, but always carrying The 700 Club, of course. Robertson’s which doctor schemes have included nutritional supplement companies that he owns and whose products he constantly hawked to his saps. He tried to start a financial services corporation with the Bank of Scotland in 1999, but this fell apart over Scottish outrage over Robertson’s homophobia. Robertson responding, “In Europe, the big word is tolerance. You tolerate everything. Homosexuals are riding high in the media … And in Scotland, you can’t believe how strong the homosexuals are” was poorly considered for the business venture and the Bank of Scotland pulled out. Pat hated gay people. When Disneyworld starting holding days for gay families, Robertson claimed God would smite them, remarking “You’re right in the way of some serious hurricanes, and I don’t think I’d be waving those flags in God’s face if I were you.” Funny how God always wanted the exact same things as Pat Robertson.
Robertson had a good friend in the homicidal Liberian president Charles Taylor, particularly investing in gold mines. Taylor loved Robertson and gave him the good tips on where to invest in Africa. When Congress passed a bill in 2003 offering $2 million for Taylor’s capture so he could be prosecuted for crimes against humanity, Robertson accused George W. Bush of “undermining a Christian, Baptist president to bring in Muslim rebels to take over the country.” This at the same time that Taylor was working with Al Qaeda to move diamonds. Taylor was eventually captured and testified that he paid Robertson through gold mines so that the preacher could become his main lobbyist in the United States. Everyone wins!
Of course, as one would expect of a grifting preacher like this, Robertson had no compunction with being a complete hypocrite. His first child was conceived out of wedlock, yet he spent his entire career railing against premarital sex. Of course, I don’t care when he had sex, although I feel bad for the poor woman for seeing Pat Robertson’s penis, but I hate the hypocrisy that this represents given his whole life. He admitted it finally during his 1988 campaign, but then of course raged about liberals publicizing this.
Any good southern old-timey right-wing religious grift has to include some faith healing. In the mid 1980s, Robertson attempted to heal AIDS victims this way. On his show, Robertson routinely declared people healed of their aliments just as he was about to go to commercial break, but his followers seemed to miss the consistent coincidence. Predicting the end of the world was another pastime. One would think that since these dates never actually lead to the end of the world that the evangelicals who believe in them would lose faith, but it never seems to happen. Anyway, in 1976, Robertson somehow figured out that the world would end in October or November 1982. At least as late as May 1980, he continued to make these predictions. I don’t know what he was saying into the end of 1982, but while the rest of the world made fun of him, 700 Club viewers were too daft to seemingly care. He never again claimed the world would end but he still routinely all sorts of whacky claims from his supposed divine revelations, such as predicting a massive terrorist attack would kill many Americans in 2007 or in 2009 when God told him that oil would reach $300 a barrel. And then of course God told Pat that Mitt Romney would be elected in 2012. He also built on the Tim LaHaye empire by writing, or almost certainly paying someone to write, apocalyptic novels, all of which did a lot better lining his bank accounts than predicting End Times. Robertson also has written financial advice books such as Right on the Money: Financial Advice for Tough Times, his attempt to cash in on the Great Recession by telling people to read the Bible and providing dubious financial planning talk.
Robertson was just a terrible human being. Rather than show love to non-Christians, he frequently dehumanized them, such as an interview in New York magazine in 1986 when he called secularists “termites” who were “destroying institutions built by Christians.” He meant the white supremacist Christian values he grew up with, which I happily plead guilty to. He referred to non-evangelical Christian denominations such as Methodists and Episcopalians as the Antichrist in a 1991 700 Club broadcast. Ecumenical!
A lifetime of being a right-wing cleric on the make culminated in Robertson’s 1988 presidential run. Once upon a time, lunatic self-promoting celebrity right-wing candidates with zero political experience could win a marginal amount of votes in this country. Alas, those days are past. Robertson raised a ton of money of course, being an old-time grifter with suckers believing in him enough to fork over their money. His platform was mostly standard conservative rhetoric with a few extra special things like a federal ban on pornography. He had a strong start, finishing second in the Iowa caucuses, ahead of George Bush. But he tanked in New Hampshire. The only state he won was the Washington caucus, of all things. He left electoral politics after this, returning to CBN, although he certainly did not leave commenting on politics.
I wish he would have. Anyone even willing to talk to Muslims would get Pat’s condemnation. When Ariel Sharon had his massive stroke in 2006, Robertson said it was God’s punishment. Sharon “was dividing God’s land and I would say woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the EU, the United Nations, or the United States of America.”
It was not only Muslims that Robertson wanted to see dead. In 2005, he called for the United States to assassinate Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, stating, “We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don’t need another $200 billion war to get rid of one strong-arm dictator. It’s a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.” What could go wrong!
Let’s not forget about the misogyny either. Robertson wanted punish women for sex while shrugging off men’s sexual misconduct. In 2013, he told a woman on his show who asked him about her husband’s adultery that the “secret” was to “stop talking about the cheating. He cheated on you. Well, he’s a man. OK.” What do you want Pat to do, keep it in his pants? He went on to suggest that she was the problem because “Males have a tendency to wander a little bit. And what you want to do is make a home so wonderful he doesn’t want to wander.” Typical from Pat, who blamed Hurricane Katrina on legalized abortion. And describing one of my favorite organizations, Pat said, “Planned Parenthood is teaching kids to fornicate, teaching people to have adultery, every kind of bestiality, homosexuality, lesbianism—everything that the Bible condemns.” Awesome.
All the way until the end, Robertson made himself look like the racist homophobic Islamophobic authoritarian he was. He urged Donald Trump to kill Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro with a drone strike. Really, when did Pat ever meet a brown person he didn’t think could use a good killing? Except Charles Taylor I guess. He claimed that the killing of 59 people by a diabolical human being in Las Vegas was related to black athletes disrespecting Donald Trump and the flag, which made a lot of sense since the killer was an old white male and it was a country music festival. It was certainly wasn’t the only time Pat decided to interpret a mass shooting as reflecting on Trump. In 2016, he said about the homophobic massacre in Orlando, “We’re looking at a favored group by the left, the homosexuals, and that in Islam is punishable by death or imprisonment or some sanction, so what are the left going to do?…In the meantime, Donald Trump is riding high because he said we should screen these people and he’s absolutely right. We should screen them. So the left is saying, ‘Oh you’re anti-Muslim, you’re racist’ and all this. Suddenly, that part of the narrative doesn’t play too well and they’re stuck as to what to do. But Trump is enjoying a victory.”
Well, Robertson certainly helped lay the groundwork for Trump. By tying evangelicalism to an extremist right-wing form of politics sold on television, Robertson played a role in showing Trump the way. Even though Trump is secular and awful in his personal behavior, Robertson helped ensure that evangelicals wouldn’t care about any of that stuff. So long as Trump names someone like Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, he can grab women by the pussies, pay off porn stars who he has affairs with, it doesn’t matter at all. Creating this grotesque side of our modern political and religious culture is the legacy of Pat Robertson.
Burn in Hell.