Jun 8, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Far-right televangelist Pat Robertson dies at 93

Pat Robertson at a campaign rally for Donald Trump in 2016. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Christian Broadcasting Network founder Pat Robertson has died at the age of 93, his family announced on Thursday.

Why it matters: The televangelist, who showed surprise strength in the 1988 GOP primaries before endorsing George H.W. Bush, was a central figure in tying evangelical Christians to the Republican Party.

  • Robertson used his 1988 campaign to build a huge mailing list of three million, his biographer, Jeffrey K. Hadden, told the AP in 1988.
  • ″He asked people to pledge that they’d work for him, pray for him and give him money... Political historians may view it as one of the most ingenious things a candidate ever did.″
  • “Robertson’s critics often depict the evangelist-broadcaster as a political extremist with bizarre beliefs,” journalist Garrett Epps wrote in The Washington Post in 1986. “But it may make more sense to view him as the last old-school southern politician.”

The son of a segregationist Democratic senator from Virginia, Robertson failed to pass the bar exam after graduating from Yale, the New York Times notes in his obituary.

  • He went on to attend seminary and become a Baptist minister.

The big picture: Robertson's "700 Club" has been broadcast since 1966. The show included many instances that led to backlash, the AP notes.

  • 1998: Robertson said Orlando residents should be careful of hurricanes after the city was the site of an annual LGBTQ+ event.
  • 2001: Robertson said 9/11 happened because God was angry about American secularization.
  • 2005: Robertson said Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez should be assassinated.
  • 2014: Robertson said you could get AIDS in Kenya from using the towels. (CBN corrected this claim and said he "misspoke.)

The bottom line: Back in 2001, author Michael Lind called Robertson "the most influential figure in American politics in the last decade."

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