Pat Robertson

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Pat Robertson
Marion Gordon Robertson, better known as Pat Robertson (born March 22, 1930), is an American Christian televangelist, entrepreneur, humanitarian, and right wing political activist. He is the founder of numerous organizations and corporations including: the American Center for Law and Justice, Christian Broadcasting Network or CBN, the Christian Coalition, the Flying Hospital, International Family Entertainment, Operation Blessing International Relief and Development Corporation, and Regent University. He is the host of the popular TV show The 700 Club, which airs on many channels in the United States and on CBN affiliates worldwide. His strongly conservative views have made him the subject of much controversy, especially his statements in favor of the dissolution of the barrier between church and state and his condemnation of groups he believes to be living in sin. Robertson's ties to the Republican Party, especially his failed bid to be that party's candidate in the 1988 presidential election, have led to charges of partisanship. He is an ordained Southern Baptist minister, but holds to a Pentecostal theology.

Life and career


Robertson was born in Lexington, Virginia into a prominent political Virginia family. His father, Absalom Willis Robertson, was a conservative Democratic United States Senator and his mother was Gladys Churchill Robertson. He married Adelia "Dede" Elmer in 1954 and they had four children, including Gordon P. Robertson, and currently have fourteen grandchildren.

At a young age he was given his nickname of Pat by his six year old brother, Willis Robertson, Jr. who enjoyed patting him on the cheeks when he was a baby saying "pat, pat, pat". As he got older Roberston considered both of his given names. He considered "Marion" to be effeminate, and "M. Gordon" to be affected, so he opted to be called "Pat".

Robertson is proud of his family history and has traced his family to such ancestors as governor of Virginia and signer of the Declaration of Independence Benjamin Harrison V, and United States presidents, William Henry Harrison and Benjamin Harrison VI. Robertson is also indirectly related to Winston Churchill.

Education and military service

When he was twelve, Robertson was enrolled in the military preparatory McDonough School outside of Baltimore. From 1944 until 1946 he began attending the Chattanooga military prep McCallie School. He graduated with honors and enrolled at Washington and Lee University, where he majored in history and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, one of the most prestigious honor societies in the country, and joined Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. Robertson has said that he partied hard during his years at Washington and Lee and enjoyed spending time with young ladies from nearby girls' schools. [1] (

In 1948 the draft was reinstated and Roberston was given the option of joining the Marine Corps or being drafted into the regular army. He opted for the former, which allowed him to finish college under the condition he attend boot camp during the summer at Quantico, Virginia, and enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve. He graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree and was the first person to be promoted to the rank of Second Lieutenant at a graduation ceremony at the university. In 1950, Robertson began service in the Korean War and was promoted to First Lieutenant in 1952 upon his return to the United States. Robertson then went on to receive a Juris Doctor degree with a specialization in Tax and Corporate Law from Yale University Law School in 1955 and a Master of Divinity degree from New York Theological Seminary in 1959.

Religious calling

In 1956 Robertson had dinner with the Dutch missionary Cornelius Vanderbreggen, and was impressed by his demeanor and what he had to say. He accepted Christ as his savior, and became a Christian. 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.

In 1960, Robertson established the Christian Broadcasting Network. It is now seen in 180 countries and broadcast in 71 languages. Robertson also founded International Family Entertainment, Inc. in 1990, with its main business as the Family Channel, which was sold to the Fox network in 1997 and is now owned by Disney. A condition of the sale was that the station would continue airing Robertson's television program The 700 Club twice a day.

Robertson founded Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia in 1977 and serves as its chancellor. Robertson is also founder and president of the American Center for Law and Justice, a public interest law firm and education group that defends the First Amendment rights of people of faith, holding the view that separation of church and state is superseded by an individual's right to worship as he or she chooses. The law firm, headquartered in the same building that houses Regent's law school, focuses on what it calls "pro-family, pro-liberty and pro-life" cases nationwide.

Presidential bid and political activism

Robertson was a candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States in 1988. His campaign did not last beyond the primary elections, as George H. W. Bush was nominated instead. Robertson's best showing in the primaries was winning the Washington State Republican primary.

The activists and donors who had contributed to Robertson's campaign became the basis for the organization of the Christian Coalition.

While he is primarily popular among American evangelical Christians, support for Robertson extends beyond the Christian community. In 2002, he received the State of Israel Friendship Award from the Zionist Organization of America for his consistent support for Greater Israel. In that year the Coalition for Jewish Concerns also expressed its gratitude to Robertson for "unwavering support for Israel" and "standing up to evil."

A controversial public figure

Outspoken in both his faith and his politics, Robertson has made plenty of headlines and enemies. The major controversies surrounding him include:

  • Robertson's claims of the power of his prayers. For example, Robertson claims to have used the power of prayer to steer hurricanes away from his companies' Virginia Beach, Virginia headquarters. He took credit for steering the course in 1985 of Hurricane Gloria, which caused millions of dollars of destruction in many states along the east coast. He made a similar claim about another destructive storm, Hurricane Felix, in 1995.
  • Robertson's great personal wealth and his uses of it. His net worth is between $200 million and $1 billion USD according to the 2002 book The Best Democracy Money Can Buy by Greg Palast. Through his ostensibly charitable organization, Operation Blessing International, Robertson claims to have spent $1.2 million bringing aid to refugees in Rwanda. His critics, such as Palast, claim the money was actually spent to bring heavy equipment for Robertson's African Development Corporation, a diamond mining operation. He has purchased thoroughbred race horses, although he has stated on many occasions he is opposed to gambling. Robertson claims he bought the horses because he is "amazed by their athleticism".
  • Robertson's support of former Liberian president Charles Taylor. In various episodes of his 700 Club program during the United States' involvement in the Liberian Civil War in June and July of 2003, Robertson repeatedly supported Liberian President Charles Taylor. Robertson accuses the U.S. State Department of giving President Bush bad advice in supporting Taylor's ouster as president, and of trying "as hard as they can to destabilize Liberia." Robertson has been criticized for failing to mention in his broadcasts his $8 million investment in a Liberian gold mine. Taylor had been at the time of Robertson's support indicted by the United Nations for war crimes. According to Robertson, Freedom Gold, the Liberian gold mine, was intended to help pay for humanitarian and evangelical efforts in Liberia, when in fact the company was allowed to fail leaving many debts both in Liberia and in the international mining service sector. Regarding this controversy, Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Convention's public policy said, "I would say that Pat Robertson is way out on his own, in a leaking life raft, on this one."
  • Robertson's political statements. On his The 700 Club television program, Pat Robertson has sharply criticized elements of the United States government. In interviews with the author of a book critical of the United States Department of State, Robertson made suggestions that the explosion of a nuclear weapon at State Department Headquarters would be good for the country, and repeated those comments on the air. "What we need is for somebody to place a small nuke at Foggy Bottom," Robertson said during his television program, referring to the location of the State Department headquarters. State Department officials said they believed the comments to be in extremely bad taste, and have lodged official complaints against Robertson for his remarks.
  • Robertson's Korean War record. In the late 1980s, Pat Robertson sued Congressman Pete McCloskey and Representative Andy Jacobs for libel. McCloskey, who served with Robertson in Korea, made claims that Robertson was spared combat duty when his powerful father intervened on his behalf. Jacobs repeated these statements publicly. During pre-trial depositions, another veteran who had served with Robertson, Paul Brosman, Jr., spoke of rumors during the war that Robertson had been carousing with prostitutes and hassling Korean women. Brosman stated that Robertson himself talked about his exploits with prostitutes. In the end, Robertson dropped his lawsuit because of scheduling conflicts between court dates and his 1988 presidential campaign, and he was ordered to pay part of McCloskey's court costs.
  • Despite claiming to be pro-life, Robertson spoke out in favor of China's one child policy, enforced by forced abortions. In a 2001 interview with Wolf Blitzer, he said of that the Chinese were "doing what they have to do," though he said that he did not personally agree with the practice. His comments drew criticism from both sides of the political spectrum. [2] (
  • During ABC's This Week, on April 30, 2005, Robertson was speaking about judicial activism when he said, "Over 100 years, I think the gradual erosion of the consensus thatís held our country together is probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings." This statement prompted outcry from several September 11th support and survivor groups.

Books by Pat Robertson

  • The New Millennium
  • Answers to 200 of Life's Most Probing Questions
  • The Secret Kingdom (1982)
  • America's Dates with Destiny
  • The Plan
  • Beyond Reason: How Miracles can Change your Life
  • Turning Tide: The Fall of Liberalism and the Rise of Common Sense
  • Shout it from the Housetops an autobiography
  • The End of the Age
  • New World Order (1991)
  • Bring It On
  • The Ten Offenses
  • Courting Disaster

Honors given to Pat Robertson

  • 1975 The Distinguished Merit Citation from The National Conference of Christians and Jews.
  • 1976 Faith and Freedom Award in the field of broadcasting.
  • 1978 Department of Justice Award from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 25th FBI Vesper Service.
  • 1979 National Conference of Christians and Jews - Distinguished Merit Citation.
  • 1982 Humanitarian of the Year by Food for the Hungry.
  • 1984 Man of the Year Award from the Women's National Republican Club.
  • 1984 Citation from the National Organization for the Advancement of Hispanics.
  • 1985 National Association of United Methodist Evangelists.
  • 1988 Man of the Year by Students for America.
  • 1989 Christian Broadcaster of the Year by the National Religious Broadcasters.
  • 1992 One of America's 100 Cultural Elite by Newsweek Magazine.
  • 1994 Omega Fellowship Award by Food for the Hungry for Operation Blessing's fight against worldwide hunger.
  • 1994 Defender of Israel Award from the Christians' Israel Public Action Campaign for those who have made major contributions in strengthening U.S.-Israel relations.
  • 1994 John Connor Humanitarian Service Award from Operation Smile International.
  • 2000 Cross of Nails award for his vision, inspiration, and humanitarian work with The Flying Hospital.
  • 2002 State of Israel Friendship Award from the Zionist Organization of America.

External links



  • Pat Robertson, Shout It From the Housetops
  • Greg Palast, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy

de:Pat Robertson


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