When I received a press release from the People for the American Way (PFAW) titled, “PFAW Condemns Robertson’s Comments on Haiti Earthquake,” I wondered to myself why any leader who claimed to be a Christian would say that the nation of Haiti has been cursed ever since it “swore a pact to the Devil.”
In my book Red and Blue God, Black and Blue Church: Eyewitness Accounts of How American Churches are Hijacking Jesus, Bagging the Beatitudes, and Worshipping the Almighty Dollar, I cited how the words of the Greatest Commandment have been repeated ad nauseam to the point where the radical message of Christ has been lost in our “yeah, right” cynical culture. Sometimes this cynicism is warranted.
For instance, let’s take a look at the pronouncements of televangelist Pat Robertson. In his teaching on the Greatest Commandment, Robertson proclaims that “a person must dedicate the totality of his being to a self-giving love for God. Every aspect of his nature must focus on loving God.” Say what? I mean, is this the same Pat Robertson who in August 2005 issued a Christian fatwa against a democratically elected world leader? I would challenge anyone to tell me what is “loving” about declaring to a worldwide televised audience that “if [Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez] thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it.” Robertson later apologized, but halfheartedly. He tried to weasel out of it by claiming that he didn’t really say we should assassinate him but that our “special forces should take him out.” Millions of viewers who saw the show or a tape of that segment know exactly what he said—that it would be cheaper to assassinate Chavez than to wage a costly war against him. But no matter how you slice this baloney, God makes it pretty clear that vengeance is his business and not ours. (See Romans 12:19–21). In a few brief moments, Robertson managed to flush over two thousand years of Judeo-Christian teachings down the toilet.
As I witnessed that notorious segment on The 700 Club, my “judge not that you not be judged” button got jammed. I’m trying to fix it, but it keeps short-circuiting on me. Maybe I’m not being Christlike, but I get pretty ticked when a brother in Christ suggests that it’s OK to kill people who cause us political grief. Then again, this is the same dude that made this comment: “If I could just get a nuclear device inside Foggy Bottom [meaning the State Department], I think that’s the answer.” Clearly, his most recent assassination comment wasn’t the first time he has suggested that murder could represent a viable solution, even if he meant it in jest.
Let’s see how Pat Robertson demonstrates his love for his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. According to Pat, “You say you’re supposed to be nice to Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Methodists. . . . Nonsense. I don’t have to be nice to the spirit of the Antichrist.” There are those who would disagree with Robertson’s picks for the embodying the spirit of the Antichrist. Fellow televangelist Robert Tilton declared Ole Anthony, founder of Trinity Foundation, to be the Antichrist. Then you have the Sex Pistols, who state that they are an Antichrist, as does “Antichrist Superstar” Marilyn Manson and lots of other wannabe satanist rockers. Also, just about every world leader who opposes the United States tends to get tagged “the Antichrist.” Seems to me that certain religious leaders might be using this term a bit too loosely. I mean, some people who have been called the Antichrist, like Hitler and Saddam Hussein, are truly evil, but we’re talking here about the epitome of evil, the baddest of the bad. When it comes to discerning just who is going to duke it out with Christ when the Second Coming hits, it seems to me it would help if we were all on the same page.
But guys like Pat never seem to let facts get in the way of a good story. For instance, how many people know that Robertson ain’t a reverend? He likes to put on the posture of being a preacher, but he gave up his ordination as a Baptist minister in 1988 when he decided to run for president. I can see where people would still make the honest mistake and call him “Reverend Robertson.” As host of The 700 Club, he prays for healing (provided your faith overrides your sense of reason and you funnel your fortunes into his pocket). And even though he’s a layman, he preaches his interpretation of the Word of God to an average of one million American viewers daily. Some viewers, like me, watch Pat & Co. for comic relief and research purposes, but many people take this man’s ramblings seriously or else he wouldn’t be so filthy rich.
Though Robertson seems to be cuckoo for Christ, even he acknowledges that there are consequences to not following Jesus’ teachings. He states, “A person would break the great commandment if his spirit was partially centered on making money to the exclusion of God.”
Now, let’s just see how well Pat puts this teaching into practice. Although I can never claim to know what’s in someone’s heart, it seems to me, at least on paper, that Robertson really, really likes making money. Lots of money. According toBritish journalist Greg Palast, Pat has a net worth estimated at between $200 million and $1 billion, a fortunate he amassed through moneymaking ventures including African gold and diamond mines, the Kalo-Vita vitamin pyramid scheme, the Bank of Scotland, the Family Channel, and the Ice Capades, as well as Age-Defying shakes, antioxidants, and protein pancakes. So is Pat guilty of not practicing what he preaches? Anyone who tunes in to more than a minute of The 700 Club can figure out pretty quickly that Pat’s application of the Greatest Commandment does not extend to those godless heathen Democrats, feminists, and other political infidels that dare to thwart what Fortune magazine terms his “quest for eternal life.” Lest you think I am exaggerating here, check out the dude’s 1992 best-selling book The New World Order for a complete description of what the world would be like if Robertson ruled it.
As I’ve just noted, Pat’s a good talker, but it’s no wonder we’re in such a mess—while guys like him are PR geniuses when it comes to talking the talk, they appear to be walking away from Christ’s teachings.
However, since Pat’s 2005 assassination faux pas, I haven’t seen him as a go-to guy in either the 2006 and 2008 election. Seems to me his unbiblical buzz may have run out of batteries. Hence, giving Pat any more PR simply gives him the illusion that he remains a relevant player. And he’s not. While I may share PFAW’s sentiment about Pat’s unholy Haitian slur, perhaps we should just treat him like the crazy uncle that comes over for Thanksgiving dinner. Simply put him off to the side so he can droll all over himself while keeping away from the kiddies.