10 Absurd Comments Made By TV’s Most Controversial Evangelist
Marion Gordon “Pat” Robertson scarcely needs any introduction in America, but for those who don’t know, he is a former television evangelist and faith healer who went on to form the conservative Christian Coalition. He also founded the first Christian television station and went on to form the Christian Broadcasting Network, one of the most successful Christian broadcasting networks ever. While his 1988 presidential election was an abject failure, he remains an influential voice to conservative Christians in America and elsewhere.
Today, he’s usually best known as the host of The 700 Club, a Christian news and ministry television broadcast that was founded in 1966. Robertson is also a prolific author of Christian books about second comings, the Antichrist, the New World Order, and other conservative bogeymen.
10God Gives Fewer Miracles To Those Who Learn Science
On April 1, 2013, a viewer of The 700 Club asked Robertson why “amazing miracles happen with great frequency in places like Africa, and not here in the USA?” She was referring to the faith-healing phenomena in Africa and the usual stories of miraculous cures.
Robertson’s response? “Sophisticated” Americans don’t receive miracles because we learn stuff like skepticism, secularism, and, of course, allow evolution to be taught. It’s another story in Africa, according to Robertson: “Overseas, they’re simple, humble. You tell ‘em God loves ‘em and they say, ‘Okay, he loves me.’ You say God will do miracles and they say, ‘Okay, we believe him.’ And that’s what God’s looking for. That’s why they have miracles.”
If we leave out the breathtakingly casual racism in tossing all African cultures into the same pot and calling all Africans “simple,” a more accurate explanation may be the relative lack of a free media presence in African countries to expose frauds. Faith healing is epidemic in parts of the continent, and outright frauds are even more common than they are in America, as this video of an exorcism gone wrong demonstrates.
9Urging The US To Assassinate Hugo Chavez
Pat Robertson is an equal-opportunity hater, but he reserves a special kind of ire for Communists and Muslims. His hatred of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez was a regular subject on The 700 Club. Things came to a head in 2005 when he took to the air and openly urged the US to assassinate the Venezuelan leader. After berating the US government (especially the State Department) for not doing enough to stop the country from becoming a launching pad for Communism and Islamic extremism, he then said, “We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability.” Robertson openly used the word “assassinate” and suggested that a covert operation would be better than an expensive military conflict in the region.
After the resulting backlash, Robertson wrote a statement on his website to clarify his position. His apology for his remarks, and his statement that the phrase “take him out” didn’t necessarily entail murder, didn’t sound very sincere when he wrote, “When faced with the threat of a comparable dictator in our own hemisphere, would it not be wiser to wage war against one person rather than finding ourselves down the road locked in a bitter struggle with a whole nation?”
This isn’t the first time Pat has criticized the State Department. In 2003, he implied that it should be blown up with a nuclear bomb, and in 2014, after Hugo Chavez died, Robertson bragged that he was right all along to call for his death.
8Gays Will ‘Die Out’
Pat Robertson has raved against members of the LGBT community throughout his career, but perhaps the lowest he came was when he went on The 700 Club and predicted that gays will “die out” because they don’t reproduce.
When a viewer complained about a church she belonged to that didn’t allow dating, Pat decided to use it as a platform to compare her church to the LGBT community and launch into one of his regular rants against homosexuals.
“You know those who are homosexual will die out because they don’t reproduce. You have to have heterosexual sex to reproduce. Same thing with that church. It’s doomed. It’s going to die out, ’cause it’s the most nonsensical thing I have heard in a long time. This is absurd.”
It is, of course, doubtful that they’re going anywhere soon.
For some strange reason, viewers of The 700 Club regularly ask Pat Robertson for spousal advice. Two of the worst examples came when Robertson advised an irate husband to convert to Islam so he could legally beat his wife, and then told a man whose wife suffers from Alzheimer’s that it would be okay to divorce her.
The first happened in 2012 when a viewer asked how he could repair his marriage with a wife who “insults” him and once tried to attack him. Robertson’s heartwarming reply was, “Well, you could become a Muslim and you could beat her. This man’s got to stand up to her and he can’t let her get away with this stuff. I don’t think we condone wife-beating these days but something has got to be done.” He then suggested that the man and his wife move to Saudi Arabia.
When another viewer in 2007 sought advice on what to do about his wife who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease—a disorder that affects about 5.4 million Americans—Robertson said that he wouldn’t “put a guilt trip” on anyone who divorced such a spouse. He justified this by claiming that the disease is “a kind of death.”
6His Magical Energy Drink
In 2006, Pat Robertson decided to enter into a different kind of faith-healing market and endorsed his own “age-defying protein shake.” In support of this product, he made the claim that, at 73 years old, he was able to leg press an astounding 900 kilograms (2,000 lb).
Along with the claims, Robertson posted photos and a statement that two assistants placed weights on the press while Robertson sat at it. The assistants then “let it down on Mr. Robertson, who pushed it up one rep and let it go back down again.” The site also has a video of Robertson bench pressing 453 kilograms (1,000 lb).
Immediately, the media smelled something fishy in this drink. One of the photos was time stamped 1994 instead of 2003, as claimed. Clay Travis of SportsLine.com wondered aloud where Robertson even found a barbell that held that much weight. Andy Zucker, a strength-training coach at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, also expressed extreme skepticism that Pat’s superpowers were so advanced.
Later the same year, US nutritional supplement firm GNC Corp dropped Robertson’s drink without explanation, but Pat still makes his claims today. You can get your hands on his magical shake by registering for a booklet, or you could download the recipe.
5Kenyans Can Get AIDS From Towels
In 2014, Robertson enraged Kenyans for at least the second time on an AIDS-related issue (the first was when he made the revolting claim that gay people might be deliberately infecting others with the disease using “secret rings”). When a viewer asked Robertson about whether they should reconsider their plans to visit the country (because of fears about Ebola; which was actually breaking out on the opposite side of the continent at the time), Pat told the viewer that if they did go, not to use the towels. His reason? They might catch AIDS from them.
Robertson said, “Not in Kenya. You might get AIDS in Kenya, the people have AIDS, you got to be careful, the towels can have AIDS.”
When Kenyans understandably got upset about such a horrible claim, social media outlets around the continent demanded a personal apology for the remark. The 700 Club quickly went into damage-control mode and released a statement, as well as a promise that Robertson would address the issue himself. The statement reads, “Dr. Robertson misspoke about the possibility of getting AIDs through towels. CBN quickly recognized the error and quickly removed the statement from the online archive. CBN recognizes the error and apologizes for any confusion.”
4The Fight Over Creationism
In 2005, Pat Robertson’s views on creationism seem to have been less evolved than they are today. Back then, he implied that God had turned his back on the city of Dover, Pennsylvania after they famously ousted eight members of their school board who were responsible for placing material about intelligent design in their school textbooks.
In 2013, however, atheists and secular religionists were put in the astounding position of having something nice to say about Robertson. They even defended him against another religious figure—Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum in Kentucky (where he’s now famous for building the world’s biggest toy boat and future money pit).
It started when a viewer wrote in telling Pat that her biggest fear “ . . . is to not have my children and husband next to me in God’s Kingdom because they question why the Bible could not explain the existence of dinosaurs.”
Astoundingly, Robertson denounced creationism. He told his viewers that Christians should not try to “cover up” evidence that the Earth is older than 6,000 years (as Young Earth Creationists believe). He ran through some of the evidence and directly stated that creationism is not the Bible, and that if you “fight science,” Christians will lose their children. He even went so far as to state that “Bishop [James] Ussher wasn’t inspired by the Lord when he said that [creation] all took 6,000 years.”
Of course, all this creationism-bashing attracted arch-creationist Ken Ham, who is always ready for media opportunities. Ham accused Robertson of making Christianity look silly, then proceeded to make Christianity sound even sillier when he stated, “Pat Robertson illustrates one of the biggest problems we have today in the church—people like Robertson compromise the Word of God with the pagan ideas of fallible men! Pat Robertson is not upholding the Word of God with his ridiculous statements—he is undermining the authority of the Word. And any attack on the WORD is an attack on the person of Jesus Christ, who IS THE WORD!”
3Ariel Sharon’s Stroke Was God’s Retribution For Giving Land To Palestinians
In the mid-2000s, Robertson led a group of evangelicals who were planning a $50 million Christian heritage center in northern Israel—a venture that was almost lost when Robertson said that the stroke that had put Israeli leader Ariel Sharon in a hospital was divine retribution for “dividing God’s land.”
Robertson was referring to Sharon’s policies toward Palestinians and the dismantling of Israeli settlements in Gaza (which eventually led to all of Gaza being given over to Palestinians). He said, “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.” Even worse, he linked the stroke to the 1995 assassination of Israeli leader Yitzak Rabin.
In retaliation for the comments, the heritage center cut all ties to Robertson, and the venture was allowed to continue. Robertson was forced to apologize to Sharon’s son, Omri.
Evangelicals like Robertson have long had a special interest in Israel. Many of them believe that if Israel is united as a whole, it will trigger the second coming and good Christians can take their long-awaited trip to heaven. This is especially true of dispensationalist evangelicals, who consistently portray themselves as Israel’s “friends” while hoping that Israeli politics will trigger their hoped-for Armageddon.
2Hurricane Katrina Was God’s Wrath
When Hurricane Katrina all but wiped out New Orleans in 2005, conservative Christians Pat Robertson, Hal Lindsey, Charles Colson, and several others made statements implying that the destruction was God’s wrath, or an omen of some sort for America’s alleged sins. Robertson went on the air and linked Katrina, other natural disasters, and terrorist attacks to abortions.
He said, “We have killed over 40 million unborn babies in America. I was reading, yesterday, a book that was very interesting about what God has to say in the Old Testament about those who shed innocent blood. And he used the term that those who do this, ‘the land will vomit you out’ . . . well ‘vomit out’ means you are not able to defend yourself. But have we found we are unable somehow to defend ourselves against some of the attacks that are coming against us, either by terrorists or now by natural disaster? Could they be connected in some way?”
Pat Robertson knows what he’s talking about when it comes to hurricanes—in 1985, he bragged that he successfully prayed Hurricane Gloria away from Virginia Beach, where The 700 Club broadcasts from (only to cause massive destruction where it did land). Apparently, his TV towers were more important than his fellow Christians.
1The Haitian Earthquake Was A Curse For Worshiping The Devil
Without a doubt, Pat Robertson’s most infamous statement occurred in 2010 in the aftermath of a 7.0 Mw earthquake in Haiti, a tragedy in which more than 300,000 people were killed.
Robertson proclaimed that there needed to be a “great turning to God” in that country. He blamed the earthquake on “devil worship” and accused Haitians of making a “pact with the devil” during the nation’s successful revolt against French colonialists in 1804, which gave them their hard-fought independence.
While Haiti and the rest of the world were gearing up for rescue and reconstruction, Robertson said, “They were under the heel of the French, you know Napoleon the Third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the Devil. They said ‘We will serve you if you will get us free from the Prince.’ True story. And so the Devil said, ‘OK it’s a deal.’ And they kicked the French out. The Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after another.”
This prompted one Huffington Post blogger to accuse Robertson of “writing horror stories in the blood of innocent victims,” and Haitian ambassador to the US Raymond Joseph took to The Rachel Maddow Show to shame Robertson personally.
As much as people laugh at the man, statements like this demonstrate the barbaric attitudes of both him and many of his followers, and their ongoing influence is nothing to laugh about.
Lance LeClaire is a freelance artist and writer. He writes on subjects ranging from science and skepticism, atheism, and religious history and issues, to unexplained mysteries and historical oddities, among other subjects. You can look him up on Facebook, check out his new sometimes serious/sometimes satirical blog on atheism and religious issues here, or keep an eye out for his articles on Listverse.