Almost as if he were bored or disappointed with his enormous influence on American politics and world events, Pat Robertson has returned to making immediate preparation for Armageddon his principle focus. In 1980, he announced to his staff that God had revealed to him that the end of the world would follow a war in the Middle East in 1982. Robertson's 1988 presidential bid and the formation of the Christian Coalition and American Center for Law and Justice were all outgrowths of the distress Robertson experienced when the prophecy failed. About three years ago, Robertson settled on 2007 as his revised estimate for this world's last year. He reasoned that 2007 makes forty years since the Six Day War and four hundred years since the founding of the Jamestown settlement in 1607.
In October, Robertson published his first novel, The End of the Age. According to Robertson, this novel is a biblically correct and authentic representation of how the end of the world is likely to unfold in 2007. Beaming with pride, Robertson read a comment from a contributor on "The 700 Club" saying that while God had given the revelation to John the Divine, He kept back its interpretation for Pat Robertson.
The novel comes off as a mishmash of Orson Welles' 1938 "War of the Worlds" broadcast and camp science fiction from the 1950s. An advertising executive and his wife leave their drought-scorched garden in southern California for an Arizona vacation. They have no idea that they have just escaped the tidal wave, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions soon to engulf the West Coast when a meteor crashes into the Pacific Ocean. It seems that God, in His love, is bringing these calamities to call mankind to repentance.
The president of the United States — unnamed and coincidentally resembling Bill Clinton — tearfully describes how, in order to prevent panic, he has delayed announcing the impending disaster until too late for an evacuation. He now rues having vetoed the conversion of Star Wars into a system for nuking bodies in outer space. Had he approved the program, the meteor could have been intercepted. On national television, the president takes out a pistol and blows his brains out.
The vice president who takes office is a Dan Quayle-like empty suit, who quickly cracks under the strain. An evil Middle Eastern financier, who is not a Moslem, but rather worships the goddess Shiva (working through the new president's wife, a New Age enthusiast), gets an obscure congressman — actually the Antichrist — appointed vice president. The financier then sends the president a gift package containing a vicious cobra. The Antichrist gets to be president. The chairman of the Federal Reserve is also killed by cobra bite, and the financier himself takes his place.
Exploiting the worldwide turmoil resulting from so many natural disasters, the Antichrist is able to found and to make himself the dictator of a New World Order government, with its capital in Baghdad (i.e., ancient Babylon). The Antichrist has a giant Disneyesque animatronic statue of himself erected at the site of the temple in Jerusalem. The Antichrist is assassinated during a television speech and miraculously raised from the dead, on camera, by the financier. The Antichrist and the financier institute a worldwide cashless computer economy. Those who will not convert to Shiva worship and submit to the required barcode tattoo (i.e., the mark of the beast) are shut out from buying and selling, and reduced to vagrancy.
During the next five months — the final tribulation — God sends plagues like in the time of Moses. One of the plagues is debilitating demon oppression not affecting the saved. Thereafter one can positively distinguish the saved from the unsaved. That knowledge enables an American Christian general to organize a counter-coup d'etat. The general joins forces with a television evangelist — excuse me, religious broadcaster — who disseminates the only remaining uncensored news from an impregnable survivalist compound in the Colorado mountains. The general's threat to nuke Baghdad touches off a cataclysmic final war. Its highlights include a battle in the Great Plains where a brigade of angels wielding death rays assists the Christian general's forces, and the extermination of all Israelis with a neutron bomb dropped on Haifa. Then the trumpet blows, the rapture occurs, and the saved all rejoice in the superior sex appeal of their new, glorified superbodies.
When one considers that this lurid scenario is presented as serious instruction about a destiny more real than the here-and-now, and no mere fantasy or entertainment, the sheer madness of it becomes breathtaking. As with Robertson's earlier The New World Order, validation of the delusions of various citizens' militia members and survivalists coming from what they must surely perceive as a reputable mainstream source are a seriously harmful side-effect. Shades of The Turner Diaries. At least, it is swarthy Asian people rather than Jews who are portrayed with fear and loathing this time. Even so, Robertson indicates no use for Jews except either to get them converted or else slaughtered in the final cataclysm. There can remain little doubt that getting into position to start a nuclear war and make good on his failed end-time prophecy were what Pat Robertson's 1988 presidential bid was about after all.
What is missing from the scenario is as telling as what it includes. There are no politically organized Christians until the scenario is nearly complete. The saved people in government are isolated and unaware of one another. The democratic process and the rule of law play no role whatsoever. Robertson's actual low regard for those core values recurs after a decade of assiduous concealment. If one adopts the viewpoint of this book, participation in politics to make the present world a better one becomes futile and irrelevant. Procuring conversions and digging in for the final tribulation are the logical responses if one takes Robertson's points.
In the past few months, there have been indications that Robertson's outlook has been changing, and that he does take his own points to some degree. At the Christian Coalition's fall conference, Robertson told The New York Times that he would endorse Dole. Robertson would never have released his leverage on the Republican presidential candidates so early if his interest in partisan politics remained as strong before. Then he traveled to Israel, and did a complete about-face from his former passionate opposition to the Rabin government and the Middle East peace process. Robertson had run his relationships with American Jewish leaders into the ground with that opposition. The Israelis rewarded him by arranging an exclusive interview with Yassir Arafat and a scoop. Arafat displayed genuine Israeli identity documents confiscated from Islamic extremist terrorists. These could only have been furnished by disloyal Israeli officials bent on sabotaging the peace process. In his eulogy for Prime Minister Rabin, Robertson called Rabin his friend. That was quite some stretch of the truth.
Reflecting on the Rabin assassination on November 14, Robertson said: "I believe that anyone who injures God's land — God's holy land — and blocks the flow of prophecy in that land is in great danger. And the Lord warned me years and years ago, 'You're coming into Israel, the land of the Bible. You don't make mistakes here because the prophecies will stand.' And however much God may love me, He'd take me out of the way...to keep me from interfering with prophecy." This was the first time in months that Robertson spoke against the peace process.
In his most recent "700 Club" telethon, Robertson offered advanced copies of The End of the Age for $100 contributors. He solicited the contributions so that he can finish equipping his Lockheed L-1011 jet airplane as a state-of-the-art flying hospital making the first civilian use of certain military medical technology. It seems that Robertson's answers to the medical-care debate consist of faith-healing and prohibitively priced maximum care for a token few recipients who happen to be at the right place at the right time to be treated aboard that plane. Robertson also broadcast a week of pound-and-shout revival preaching. He was shown contentedly listening at the feet of Oral Roberts and James Robison, among others. Not long ago, Robertson would have taken his image far too seriously to do that.
Ten years ago, I wrote that I thought Robertson would come to resemble the late Herbert W. Armstrong more and more in his later years. It seems that my prophecy did better than Robertson's.
Edmund D. Cohen has monitored the activities of Pat Robertson since the early 1980s. He is the author of The Mind of the Bible-Believer. Copyright 1995 by Edmund D. Cohen.