IFAS | Freedom Writer | December 1995 | question.html

Q UESTION OF THE M ONTH
Who is in line to succeed Pat Robertson?

Freedom Writer called the Christian Broadcasting Network seeking an answer to this question. Messages left for Gene Kapp, Robertson's official spokesman, were not returned. However, in a recent conversation with Skipp Porteous, Kapp said he didn't like what Freedom Writer has published in the past about Robertson, which may explain his reluctance to return the call.

At 65, apparently in good health, and with no plans to retire, Robertson may be with us for quite some time. The televangelist believes that service to the Lord is a lifelong calling, with no provision for retirement.

After spending a lifetime building their empires, many evangelists hope a family member will eventually step into their shoes. For example, evangelist Billy Graham recently designated his son Franklin as heir to his long-time ministry. In the height of his once-popular TV ministry, Jimmy Swaggart frequently put his son Donny on the TV program. But Donny, with his high-pitched voice, was no match for his father's mellow tones. The ministry of the aging Oral Roberts has been taken over by his son Richard. However, the junior Roberts lacks the immense appeal his father once had. On occasion, Robert Schuller's son stands in for him. The younger Schuller's presence is a mere imitation of his father's gestures, expressions, and unusual manner of speaking.

In 1988, when Pat Robertson ran for president, his son, Tim, filled his spot on "The 700 Club." As a result, contributions to the show dropped by half. Tim is not a likely successor.

On numerous occasions Robertson has said that he fully expects to be around when Jesus comes back. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that Robertson has no successor in mind.

"The 700 Club" program is Robertson's baby, and the program fully personifies the man. Upon Robertson's demise, or forced retirement because of ill health, "The 700 Club" will, at least, greatly diminish. Other segments of Robertson's empire will likely be run by his sons. The Christian Coalition may collapse long before Robertson.

© 1998 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.