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Marion Gordon "Pat" Robertson (born March 22, 1930) is a televangelist from the United Statesmarker. He is the founder of numerous organizations and corporations, including the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), the Christian Coalition, Flying Hospital, International Family Entertainment Inc., Operation Blessing International Relief and Development Corporation, and Regent Universitymarker. He is the host of The 700 Club, a Christian TV program airing on channels throughout the United States and on CBN affiliates worldwide.

Robertson is a Southern Baptist and was active as an ordained minister with that denomination for many years, but holds to a charismatic theology not traditionally common among Southern Baptists. He unsuccessfully campaigned to become the Republican Party's nominee in the 1988 presidential election. As a result of his seeking political office, he no longer serves in an official role for any church. His media and financial resources make him a recognized, influential, and controversial public voice for conservative Christianity in the United States.

Life and career


Robertson was born in Lexington, Virginiamarker, into a prominent political family. His parents were Absalom Willis Robertson, a conservative Democratic United States Senator, and his wife Gladys Churchill (née Willis). He married Adelia "Dede" Elmer on August 26, 1954. His family includes four children, among them Gordon P. Robertson and Tim Robertson and, as of mid-2005, fourteen grandchildren.

At a young age, Robertson was given the nickname of Pat by his six-year-old brother, Willis Robertson, Jr., who enjoyed patting him on the cheeks when he was a baby while saying "pat, pat, pat". As he got older, Robertson thought about which first name he would like people to use. He considered "Marion" to be effeminate, and "M. Gordon" to be affected, so he opted for his childhood nickname "Pat". His strong awareness for the importance of names in the creation of a public image showed itself again during his presidential run when he threatened to sue NBC news for calling him a "television evangelist", which later became "televangelist", at a time when Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker were objects of scandal. He insisted upon being called a "religious broadcaster".

Religious career

In 1956 Robertson found his faith through Dutchmarker missionary Cornelius Vanderbreggen, who impressed Robertson both by his lifestyle and his message. Vanderbreggen quoted Proverbs (3:5, 6), "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths", which Robertson considers to be the "guiding principle" of his life. He was ordained as a minister of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1961.

In 1960, Robertson established the Christian Broadcasting Network in Virginia Beach, Virginiamarker. He started it by buying a small UHF station in nearby Portsmouthmarker. Later in 1977 he purchased a local-access cable channel in the Hampton Roads area and called it CBN. Originally he went door-to-door in Virginia Beach, Hampton Roads, and other surrounding areas asking Christians to buy cable boxes so that they could receive his new channel. He also canvassed local churches in the Virginia Beach area to do the same, and solicited donations through public speaking engagements at local churches and on CBN. One of his friends, the pastor of Rock Church Virginia Beach- John Giminez was influential in helping Robertson establish CBN with donations, as well as offering the services of volunteers from his church.

CBN is now seen in 180 countries and broadcast in 71 languages. He founded the CBN Cable Network, which was renamed the CBN Family Channel in 1988 and later simply the Family Channel. When the Family Channel became too profitable for Robertson to keep it under the CBN umbrella without endangering CBN's nonprofit status, he formed International Family Entertainment Inc. in 1990 with the Family Channel as its main subsidiary. Robertson sold the Family Channel to the News Corporation in 1997, which renamed it Fox Family. A condition of the sale was that the station would continue airing Robertson's television program, The 700 Club, twice a day in perpetuity, regardless of any changes of ownership. The channel is now owned by Disney and run as "ABC Family". On December 3, 2007, Robertson resigned as chief executive of CBN; he was succeeded by his son, Gordon.

Robertson founded CBN University in 1977 on CBN's Virginia Beach campus. It was renamed Regent Universitymarker in 1989. Robertson serves as its chancellor. He is also founder and president of the American Center for Law and Justice, a public interest law firm that defends Christians whose First Amendment rights have allegedly been violated. The law firm, headquartered in the same building that houses Regent's law school, focuses on "pro-family, pro-liberty and pro-life" cases nationwide.

Robertson is also an advocate of Christian dominionism - the idea that Christians have a right to rule.

In 1994, he was a signer of the document Evangelicals and Catholics Together.

1988 presidential bid

In September 1986, Robertson announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination for President of the United States. Robertson said he would pursue the nomination only if three million people signed up to volunteer for his campaign by September 1987. Three million responded, and by the time Robertson announced he would be running in September 1987, he also had raised millions of dollars for his campaign fund. He surrendered his ministerial credentials and turned leadership of CBN over to his son, Tim. His campaign, however, against incumbent Vice President George H. W. Bush, was seen as a long shot.

Robertson ran on a very conservative platform. Among his policies, he wanted to ban pornography, reform the education system, and eliminate departments such as the Department of Education and the Department of Energy. He also supported a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget.

During the start of the presidential primary election season in early 1988, Robertson's campaign was attacked because of a statement he had made about his military service. In his campaign literature, he stated he was a combat Marine who served in the Korean War. Other Marines in his battalion contradicted Robertson's version, claiming he had never spent a day in a combat environment. They asserted that instead of fighting in the war, Robertson's primary responsibility was supplying alcoholic beverages for his officers. (see Education and military service)

Robertson's campaign got off to a strong second-place finish in the Iowa caucus, ahead of Bush.

Robertson did poorly in the subsequent New Hampshire primary, however, and was unable to be competitive once the multiple-state primaries began. Robertson ended his campaign before the primaries were finished. His best finish was in Washingtonmarker, winning the majority of caucus delegates. However, his controversial win has been credited to procedural manipulation by Robertson supporters who delayed final voting until late into the evening when other supporters had gone home. He later spoke at the 1988 Republican National Convention in New Orleansmarker and told his remaining supporters to cast their votes for Bush, who ended up winning the nomination and the election. He then returned to CBN and has remained there as a religious broadcaster.


Robertson's tome The New World Order was described as a 'catch all for conspiracy theories' by Christian academic Don Wilkey:

Pat Robertson’s work, NEW WORLD ORDER, is a catch all for conspiracy theories.
A summary of Robertson’s book is found on page 177 in which Pat says a conspiracy has existed in the world working through Freemasonry and a secret Order of the Illuminati, a group combining Masons and Jewish Bankers.

Ephraim Radner also accuses Robertson of espousing anti-semitic beliefs in the same book:

In his published writings, especially his 1991 book The New World Order, Pat Robertson has propagated theories about a worldwide Jewish conspiracy.
Michael Land raised the issue in February in the New York Times Book Review, and in April Jacob Heilbrun, writing in the New York Review of Books, cited chapter and verse of Robertson's borrowings from well-known anti-Semitic works.

Business interests

He is the founder and chairman of The Christian Broadcasting Network Inc., and founder of International Family Entertainment Inc., Regent Universitymarker, Operation Blessing International Relief and Development Corporation, American Center for Law and Justice, The Flying Hospital, Inc. and several other organizations and broadcast entities. Robertson was the founder and co-chairman of International Family Entertainment Inc. (IFE).

Formed in 1990, IFE produced and distributed family entertainment and information programming worldwide. IFE's principal business was The Family Channel, a satellite delivered cable-television network with 63 million U.S. subscribers. IFE, a publicly held company listed on the New York Stock Exchangemarker, was sold in 1997 to Fox Kids Worldwide, Inc. for $1.9 billion, whereupon it was renamed Fox Family Channel. Disney acquired FFC in 2001 and its name was changed again, to ABC Family.

Robertson is a global businessman with media holdings in Asia, the United Kingdom, and Africa. He struck a deal with Pittsburgh, PA-based General Nutrition Center to produce and market a weight-loss shake he created and promoted on the 700 Club TV show.

In 1999, Robertson entered into a joint venture with the Bank of Scotland to provide financial services in the United States. However, the move was met with criticism in the UK due to Robertson's views on homosexuality. After Robertson commented that Scotland was "a dark land overrun by homosexuals", the Bank of Scotland canceled the venture.

Robertson's extensive business interests have earned him a net worth estimated between $200 million and $1 billion.

A fan of Thoroughbred horse racing, Robertson paid $520,000 for a colt he named Mr. Pat. Trained by John Kimmel, Mr. Pat was not a successful runner. He was nominated for, but did not run in, the 2000 Kentucky Derby.

According to a 2 June 1999, article in The Virginian-Pilot, Robertson had extensive business dealings with Liberian warlord Charles Taylor. According to the article, Taylor gave Robertson the rights to mine for diamonds in Liberia's mineral-rich countryside. According to two Operation Blessing pilots who reported this incident to the state of Virginiamarker for investigation in 1994, Robertson used his Operation Blessing planes to haul diamond-mining equipment to Robertson's mines in Liberia, despite the fact that Robertson was telling his 700 Club viewers that the planes were sending relief supplies to the victims of the genocide in Rwandamarker. The subsequent investigation by the state of Virginiamarker concluded that Robertson diverted his ministry's donations to the Liberian diamond-mining operation, but Attorney General of Virginia Mark Earley blocked any potential prosecution against Robertson, as the relief supplies were also sent . In response to Taylor's alleged crimes against humanity the United States Congress passed a bill In November 2003 that offered two million dollars for his capture. Robertson accused President Bush of "undermining a Christian, Baptist president to bring in Muslim rebels to take over the country." At the time Taylor was harboring Al Qaeda operatives who were funding their operations through the illegal diamond trade.

Education and military service

When he was eleven, Robertson was enrolled in the preparatory McDonogh Schoolmarker outside Baltimore, Marylandmarker. From 1940 until 1946 he attended The McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tennesseemarker. He graduated with honors and enrolled at Washington and Lee Universitymarker, where he majored in history. The claim that he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa is not substantiated by the Phi Beta Kappa membership directory. He also joined Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. Robertson has said, "Although I worked hard at my studies, my real major centered around lovely young ladies who attended the nearby girls schools."

In 1948, the draft was reinstated and Robertson was given the option of joining the Marine Corps or being drafted into the army. He opted for the first, which allowed him to finish college under the condition that he attend Officer Candidates School (OCS) in Quanticomarker, Virginiamarker during the summer. He graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree and was the first person to be commissioned as a Second Lieutenant at a graduation ceremony at Washington and Lee. In January 1951, Robertson served four months in Japan, "doing rehabilitation training for Marines wounded in Koreamarker".

In his words, "We did long, grueling marches to toughen the men, plus refresher training in firearms and bayonet combat." In the same year, he transferred to Korea, "I ended up at the headquarters command of the First Marine Division," says Robertson. "The Division was in combat in the hot and dusty, then bitterly cold portion of North Korea just above the 38th Parallel later identified as the 'Punchbowl' and 'Heartbreak Ridge.' For that service in the Korean War, the Marine Corps awarded me three battle stars for 'action against the enemy.'" It should be noted that the representation of campaign stars on a service ribbon as "battle stars" is inaccurate, as these stars simply denote service during designated time periods, and not, as Robertson states, "action against the enemy".

However, former Republican Congressman Paul "Pete" McCloskey, Jr., who served with Robertson in Korea, claimed that Robertson was actually spared combat duty when his powerful father, a U.S. Senator, intervened on his behalf, claiming that instead Robertson spent most of his time in an office in Japanmarker. According to McCloskey, his time in the service was not in combat but as the "liquor officer" responsible for keeping the officers' clubs supplied with liquor. There he also was known to drink liquors himself and to frequent prostitutes -- consequently, he even feared that he had contracted gonorrhea.

Robertson was promoted to First Lieutenant in 1952 upon his return to the United States. He then went on to receive a Bachelor of Laws degree from Yale University Law School in 1955. However, he failed to pass the bar exam, shortly thereafter underwent his religious conversion, and decided against pursuing a career in law. Instead, Robertson attended the New York Theological Seminary, and was awarded a Master of Divinity degree in 1959.

Political activism

After his unsuccessful presidential campaign, Robertson started the Christian Coalition, a 1.7 million member Christian right organization that campaigned mostly for conservative candidates. It was sued by the Federal Election Commission "for coordinating its activities with Republican candidates for office in 1990, 1992 and 1994 and failing to report its expenditures"

In 1994, the Coalition was fined for "improperly [aiding] then Representative Newt Gingrich (R-GA) and Oliver North, who was then the Republican Senate nominee in Virginia." Robertson left the Coalition in 2001.

While Robertson is primarily popular among evangelical Christians, his support extends beyond the Christian community.

Robertson has also been a governing member of the Council for National Policy (CNP)., which describes itself as "an independent Christian research and apologetics ministry" listed him on the CNP Board of Governors 1982, President Executive Committee 1985–86, member, 1984, 1988, 1998.

On November 7, 2007, Robertson announced that he was endorsing Rudy Giuliani to be the Republican nominee in the 2008 Presidential election.

While usually associated with the political right, Pat Robertson has recently begun endorsing environmental causes. He appears in a commercial with Al Sharpton, joking about this, and urging people to join the We can Solve it Campaign against global warming.

In January 2009, on a broadcast Monday of his 700 Club television show, Robertson stated that he is "adamantly opposed" to the division of Jerusalemmarker between Israel and the Palestinians. He also stated that Armageddon is "not going to be fought at Megiddo" but will be the "battle of Jerusalem," when "the forces of all nations come together and try to take Jerusalem away from the Jews. Jews are not going to give up Jerusalem -- they shouldn't -- and the rest of the world is going to insist they give it up." Robertson added that Jerusalem is a "spiritual symbol that must not be given away" because "Jesus Christ the Messiah will come down to the part of Jerusalem that the Arabs want," and that's "not good."

Controversies and criticisms

Robertson is outspoken in both his religion and his politics. His actions, business relations, and statements have often made headlines.

Controversies surrounding Robertson include his earlier work as a faith healer, his claim that some Protestant denominations harbor the spirit of the Antichrist, and his claims of having the power to deflect hurricanes through prayer; he has also denounced Hinduism as "demonic" and Islam as "Satanic." Robertson has issued multiple condemnations of feminism, homosexuality, abortion and liberal professors. Robertson also had financial ties to former presidents Charles Taylor (Liberia) and Mobutu Sese Seko (Zaire), both internationally denounced for their systemic human rights violations. Robertson was criticized worldwide for his call for Hugo Chavez’s assassination and for his remarks concerning Ariel Sharon's health as an act of God.

In addition to sociopolitical controversies, Robertson was criticized for involvement in a racehorse scandal, misleading claims about his leg pressing abilities and his response to an unflattering Facebook photograph.


Several times near New Year Robertson has announced that God told him several truths or events that would happen in the following year. "I have a relatively good track record," he said. "Sometimes I miss."

1982: Doomsday

In late 1976, Robertson predicted that the end of the world was coming in November or October 1982. In a May 1980 broadcast of The 700 Club he stated, "I guarantee you by the end of 1982 there is going to be a judgment on the world."

2006: Pacific Northwestern tsunami

In May 2006, Robertson declared that storms and possibly a tsunami would hit America's coastline sometime in 2006. Robertson supposedly received this revelation from God during an annual personal prayer retreat in January. The claim was repeated four times on The 700 Club.

On May 8, 2006 Robertson said, "If I heard the Lord right about 2006, the coasts of America will be lashed by storms." On May 17, 2006 he elaborated, "There well may be something as bad as a tsunami in the Pacific Northwest." While this claim didn't garner the same level of controversy as some of his other statements, it was generally received with mild amusement by the Pacific Northwest media. The History Channel's initial airing of its new series, Mega Disasters: West Coast Tsunami, was broadcast the first week of May.

On November 15, 2006, a magnitude 8.3 earthquakemarker struck off Atisov Island in the Kuril Islandsmarker in the western Pacific. A tsunami warning was issued but rescinded hours later. However, a 176-centimetre wave from that quake did hit the harbor at Crescent City, Californiamarker causing damage to three docks and several boats; an estimated $1.1 million in damage to the docks there. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a county state of emergency. Upon that declaration, the area affected was eligible for federal emergency relief funding to repair the damage.

2007: Terror attack

On the January 2, 2007 broadcast of The 700 Club, Robertson said that God spoke to him and told him that "mass killings" were to come during 2007, due to a terrorist attack on the United States. He added, "The Lord didn't say nuclear. But I do believe it will be something like that." When a terrorist attack failed to happen in 2007, Robertson said, in January 2008, "All I can think is that somehow the people of God prayed and God in his mercy spared us."

2008: Worldwide violence and American recession

On the January 2, 2008 episode of The 700 Club, Pat Robertson predicted that 2008 would be a year of worldwide violence. He also predicted that a recession would occur in the United States that would be followed by a stock market crash by 2010.

2008: Mideast Meltdown

In October 2008 Robertson posted a press release on the Georgianmarker Conflict speculating that the conflict is a Russianmarker ploy to enter the Middle East, and that instability caused by a predicted pre-emptive strike by Israelmarker on Iranmarker would result in Syriamarker and Iran launching nuclear strikes on other targets. He also said that if the United Statesmarker were to oppose Russia's expansion, nuclear strikes on American soil are also pending. "We will suffer grave economic damage, but will not engage in military action to stop the conflict. However, we may not be spared nuclear strikes against coastal cities. In conclusion, it is my opinion that we have between 75 and 120 days before the Middle East starts spinning out of control."


  • The New Millennium
  • Answers to 200 of Life's Most Probing Questions
  • The Secret Kingdom (1982)
  • America's Dates with Destiny
  • The Plan
  • Beyond Reason: How Miracles can Change your Life
  • Turning Tide: The Fall of Liberalism and the Rise of Common Sense
  • Shout it from the Housetops an autobiography
  • The End of the Age (1995, fiction)
  • The New World Order (1991)
  • Bring It On
  • The Ten Offenses
  • Courting Disaster
  • Pat Robertson: An American Life - David John Marley


  • 1975 The Distinguished Merit Citation from The National Conference of Christians and Jews.
  • 1976 Faith and Freedom Award in the field of broadcasting.
  • 1978 Department of Justicemarker Award from the Federal Bureau of Investigationmarker, 25th FBI Vesper Service.
  • 1979 National Conference of Christians and Jews — Distinguished Merit Citation.
  • 1982 Humanitarian of the Year by Food for the Hungry.
  • 1984 Man of the Year Award from the Women's National Republican Club.
  • 1984 Citation from the National Organization for the Advancement of Hispanics.
  • 1985 National Association of United Methodist Evangelists.
  • 1988 Man of the Year by Students for America.
  • 1989 Christian Broadcaster of the Year by the National Religious Broadcasters.
  • 1992 One of America's 100 Cultural Elite by Newsweek Magazine.
  • 1994 Omega Fellowship Award by Food for the Hungry for Operation Blessing's fight against worldwide hunger.
  • 1994 Defender of Israel Award from the Christians' Israel Public Action Campaign for those who have made major contributions in strengthening U.S.-Israel relations.
  • 1994 John Connor Humanitarian Service Award from Operation Smile International.
  • 2000 Cross of Nails award for his vision, inspiration, and humanitarian work with The Flying Hospital.
  • 2002 State of Israel Friendship Award from the Zionist Organization of America.

See also


External links

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