Marion Gordon "Pat" Robertson is the undisputed king of religious broadcasting. Additionally, he is a significant figure in American politics today. That combination poses a grave threat to the separation between church and state and a democratic society.
In 1989, after his failed presidential campaign, Robertson founded the Christian Coalition. He vowed to make the Christian Coalition the most powerful political force in America by the end of this decade. Ahead of schedule, Robertson has already surpassed many of his goals.
Before the media started paying attention, the Christian Coalition operated without controversy for a couple of years. Then, to dodge charges of religious and political extremism, the Christian Coalition cleverly framed its agenda as "pro-family." Likewise, its public relations machine successfully turned most media attention from Pat Robertson to a usually rational-sounding Ralph Reed, the group's hired executive director.
As the Christian Coalition works toward its goal of taking over the Republican Party and becoming the most powerful political group in the United States, it becomes more important than ever that people know as much as possible about the group's guiding light, Pat Robertson.
The Christian Coalition is not Robertson's first controversial political organization. In 1981, he formed the Freedom Council as a vehicle to get conservative Christians involved in the political process. The Freedom Council was funded by the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, and listed on CBN's books as simply Project 0015. The Freedom Council, as a 501(c)(4) political organization, was allowed to lobby. However, it is illegal for a politically restricted non-profit group like CBN to channel funds into a political organization like the Freedom Council.
In January 1986, the Freedom Council changed its name to the National Freedom Institute. In the same day a new Freedom Council was formed. Then, nine months later, the Institute was dissolved, leaving only the new Freedom Council in place.
The reborn Freedom Council applied for tax-exempt status, telling the IRS that two large donations were hinging on such approval. IRS approval came quickly. Published reports said later that there never were any big prospective donors waiting in the wings. Then, just as the IRS began an audit of CBN, the Freedom Council abruptly closed.
In 1986, Americans for Robertson formed as an exploratory committee for Robertson's presidential campaign. Americans for Robertson came under criticism for its alleged failure to report its financial dealings. After raising millions of dollars toward Robertson's campaign, it, too, closed shop. The Christian Coalition was a direct outgrowth of Robertson's failed campaign.
In his numerous books, personal appearances, and tapes, Robertson makes it clear that he believes that he is one of God's prophets. His followers somehow overlook the fact that the Bible says that if a prophet predicts something that turns out to be false, then the man is considered a false prophet.
Anyone who has studied history and natural science can make educated guesses about future political events and natural disasters. Robertson's success rate at predicting events is about average. But sometimes Robertson makes dogmatic assertions, leaving no room for error. For example, in his 1984 book, Answers, he flatly stated, "There will be an invasion of the nation of Israel by the Soviet Union." Of course, it didn't happen, and now the Soviet Union doesn't exist. In 1989, a year after running for president, Robertson wrote The Plan. In that book he wrote that God spoke to him and said, "You will not want to do it, but I want you to be [emphasis added] president of the United States." Robertson would have been better off if he had claimed God said, "I want you to run for president," and left it at that.
Robertson's 1985 claim to pray away a hurricane headed for Virginia Beach has been much reported. He pulled the same stunt on "The 700 Club" earlier this year when Hurricane Felix headed in his direction. Because of the jet steam and the west-to-east weather pattern, most Atlantic hurricanes actually veer away from the mainland.
One of Robertson's most amazing declarations concerns the Second Coming and the role of his Christian Broadcasting Network. In a 1995 16-page booklet titled "The Harvest Begins With You," Robertson wrote that God gave him five years to reach the world with the gospel — then it's going to be over.
Robertson explains CBN's part in the end-time scenario: "I will never forget the time, April 29, 1977, when we had built the first earth station ever to be owned by a Christian ministry in the history of the world, and we were the first ever to take a full-time transponder on a satellite. We were the third broadcaster in America — we were with HBO and Ted Turner. But we were the first basic cable network in America, so we were pioneers in this area. I remember it was ten o'clock in the morning when we went on with the broadcast. We then cut to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, a little after five o'clock in the afternoon. There were some clouds forming over the Temple Mount, and Merv and Merla Watson were on the mountain. We had a camera on them as they were singing and praising God. The signal was picked up and microwaved to Tel Aviv. On a big earth station it was relayed across the satellite down in New York City; then it was picked up again either on landlines or satellite and sent back here to Virginia Beach, where we picked it up and processed it through our equipment, and then re-broadcast it on our earth station to our transponder all across the United States of America. And when I saw the Mount of Olives, and I saw where my Savior is going to put His foot down when He comes back to earth, I was thinking, 'I'm transmitting it! The Bible says every eye is going to behold Him, and here it is happening! We see how it is going to be fulfilled right in front of our eyes!'"
Robertson recently came out with The End of the Age, a book he calls his first work of fiction — although he says it is based solidly on the Bible. In The End of the Age, Robertson paints a bleak picture of the end times he says we are about to enter. He writes about a Christian militia-type group raised up to fight a tyrannical American government, and the dropping of a neutron bomb on Israel. Then, glory be to God, Jesus comes back with a company of angels and destroys the enemy, and the saved live happily ever after.
Now, Robertson not only opposed Rabin's peace efforts, but suggested that God removed Rabin because he stood in the way of Bible prophecy. He quipped that God would remove him too, if he stood in the way of God's plan.
Robertson has every right to espouse his beliefs and act politically. Nevertheless, with the Christian Coalition's dominance in the Republican Party, people need to see how the radical theology of Robertson and his Christian Coalition threatens world peace. In the opinion of this writer, Robertson isn't looking for solutions to the world's problems, he is looking to lead us down the road to Armageddon.