Pat Robertson, founder of Christian Broadcasting Network, dies at 93

Pat Robertson

Originally published in The Christian Post

Notable conservative Christian broadcaster and onetime presidential candidate Pat Robertson, widely known as the long-serving host of the popular Christian Broadcasting Network programme The 700 Club, has died. He was 93 years old.

CBN News released a statement announcing Robertson died in his Virginia Beach home today. Robertson is survived by four children, 14 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren.

“Pat Robertson dedicated his life to preaching the Gospel, helping those in need, and educating the next generation,” stated CBN.

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“Pat had a hunger for knowledge of the Lord, and he wanted to share the love and faithfulness of Jesus with the world. His heart’s desire was that all people come to know Jesus.”

Born Marion Gordon Robertson in Lexington, Virginia, on March 22 1930, Robertson had an extensive educational background, earning a bachelor of arts magna cum laude from Washington and Lee University in 1950, a juris doctor degree from Yale University Law School in 1955, and a master of divinity from New York Theological Seminary in 1959.

Robertson served as a reservist in the US Marine Corps, eventually being sent to Korea during the 1950s war, where he chiefly served at a headquarters a few miles from the front. 

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In 1960, Robertson was ordained a Southern Baptist minister by Freemason Street Baptist Church of Norfolk, Virginia. He later had his ordination vows terminated when he ran for president of the United States in 1988.

In 1954, Robertson married Adelia Elmer, with their union lasting until she died in 2022. The couple had four children, including the current lead host for The 700 Club, Gordon Robertson.

In 1960, Robertson founded the Christian Broadcasting Network, or CBN. Its flagship programme, The 700 Club, remained a regular fixture on national television into the 21st century.

Begun as a local television station in Portsmouth, Virginia, CBN’s programming can now be viewed globally.

“Today, CBN is a multifaceted nonprofit organization that provides programming by cable, broadcast and satellite to approximately 200 countries, with a 24-hour telephone prayer line,” noted the station’s website.

CBN‘s international ministry has worked in 122 different languages, from Mandarin to Spanish and from Turkish to Welsh.”

In 1977, Robertson founded Regent University in Virginia Beach, serving as its president and chancellor for many years. The following year, he founded Operation Blessing International Relief and Development Corporation.

Robertson founded and co-chaired International Family Entertainment, Inc. in 1990, which became the Fox Family Channel and then ABC Family when Disney acquired it in 2001.

Robertson also helped found the conservative law firm the American Center for Law & Justice in 1990 and has authored nearly 20 books, both fiction and nonfiction.

Robertson’s books include Beyond Reason: How Miracles Can Change Your Life (1985), The New World Order (1991), The End of the Age (2002), The Ten Offenses (2004), and America’s Dates With Destiny.

In 1986, Robertson announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination for president in the 1988 election. While his campaign was well funded and he finished strong in Iowa and Minnesota, he eventually lost the nomination to George HW Bush.

In 1987, Robertson founded the conservative political advocacy organisation the Christian Coalition. In the 1990s, the Christian Coalition began producing nonpartisan voter guides that were distributed at churches. The group was denied tax-exempt status by the IRS in 1999 amid complaints that the voter guides were partisan.  

As a public figure who frequently commented on social issues, religion and politics, Robertson often garnered backlash for making provocative remarks, especially while host of The 700 Club.

Two days after the Sept. 11 2001, terror attacks, Robertson invited Rev Jerry Falwell on The 700 Club. When Falwell blamed 9/11 on America’s growing acceptance of socially liberal ideas, Robertson replied, “I totally concur.”

Soon after the broadcast aired, Robertson released a statement clarifying that “no one other than the terrorists and the people and nations who have enabled and harbored them responsible for [the] attacks on this nation.”

In 2010 after a devastating earthquake hit Haiti, Robertson blamed the disaster on the Caribbean nation’s acceptance of Voodoo and an alleged pact with the devil made at the time of their founding.

“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 French.’ True story. And so the devil said, ‘OK, it’s a deal,'” stated Robertson.

During the 2010s, Robertson endorsed decriminalising marijuana, once argued that people married to those suffering from Alzheimer’s were allowed to divorce them because of the illness. He also suggested that the United States should assassinate Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, which he later apologised for.

A staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, he inaccurately predicted that Trump would win reelection in 2020, only to later acknowledge in December of that year that Democrat challenger Joe Biden had rightfully won.

In August 2017, Robertson was hospitalised following a fall from a horse. He suffered minor injuries and was back to hosting The 700 Club later that month.

Robertson suffered an embolic stroke in 2018, which prompted him to be hospitalised for a couple of days. He returned to host the programme later that month, referring to his recovery as an example of God’s “miraculous healing“.

On October 1 2021, as part of the 60th anniversary of The 700 Club, Robertson announced that he was stepping down as the regular lead host of the long-running Christian talk show after 55 years.

Robertson occasionally made guest appearances and continued to teach and lead at Regent University. 

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One Comment

  1. Melody Emmett

    After a devastating earthquake in 2010, he said Haitians were cursed by a “pact with the devil” made by the slaves who rebelled against French colonists centuries earlier, and in 2020, he spoke out against the Black Lives Matter movement, saying it wants to destroy Christianity. “Of course, Black lives matter,” Robertson said, but the movement is ”a stalking horse for a very very radical anti-family, anti-God agenda.”
    Robertson also claimed that the terrorist attacks that killed thousands of Americans on Sept. 11, 2001 were caused by God, angered by the federal courts, pornography, abortion rights and church-state separation. Talking again about 9-11 on his TV show a year later, Robertson described Islam as a violent religion that wants to “dominate” and “destroy,” prompting President George W. Bush to distance himself and say Islam is a peaceful and respectful religion.
    He called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 2005, although he later apologized.
    Later that year, he warned residents of a rural Pennsylvania town not to be surprised if disaster struck them because they voted out school board members who favored teaching “intelligent design” over evolution. And in 1998, he said Orlando, Florida, should beware of hurricanes after allowing the annual Gay Days event.
    In 2014, he angered Kenyans when he warned that towels in Kenya could transmit AIDS. CBN issued a correction, saying Robertson “misspoke about the possibility of getting AIDS through towels.”
    Robertson also could be unpredictable: In 2010, he called for ending mandatory prison sentences for marijuana possession convictions. Two years later, he said on the “700 Club” that marijuana should be legalized and treated like alcohol because the government’s war on drugs had failed.
    Robertson condemned Democrats caught up in sex scandals, saying for example that President Bill Clinton turned the White House into a playpen for sexual freedom. But he helped solidify evangelical support for Donald Trump, dismissing the candidate’s sexually predatory comments about women as an attempt “to look like he’s macho.”
    After Trump took office, Robertson interviewed the president at the White House. And CBN welcomed Trump advisers, such as Kellyanne Conway, as guests.
    But after President Trump lost to Joe Biden in 2020, Robertson said Trump was living in an “alternate reality” and should “move on,” news outlets reported.