Last entry I took the time to discuss Pat Robertson’s recent call for the assassination of the elected leader of another country. Let me start with the admission that ANY time spent discussing the views of Pat Robertson is spending more time than the topic merits. But America chooses its topics for political discourse in a very strange way. In virtually all types of organizations, members and participants have input into an agenda and then the most urgent issues are discussed and addressed first. Even our elected officials do this at least some of the time.
But public discourse is based on a number of forces competing to set the agenda and the topics for discussion. Many people have gone to the Dennis Rodman school of public relations – be or say something outrageous and you get attention and become a bigger star. That’s what Robertson achieves with his outrageous pronouncements. To demonstrate once and for all that we shouldn’t be listening to the prattlings of the Reverend Robertson, here are some choice quotes from the vault.
Robertson on the Relationship Between Christians and Government
“I read your book. When you get through, you [a reader] say, "If I could just get a nuclear device inside Foggy Bottom, I think that's the answer." I mean, you get through this, and you say, "We've got to blow that thing up." I mean, is it as bad as you say?” (Pat Robertson, to syndicated columnist Joel Mowbray, author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Endangers National Security. (Robertson extrapolates from Mowbray’s book to conclude that when it comes to the U.S. State Department – in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of DC – the best course of action is to nuke the place. Literally.)
I like a guy that’s not only tough in foreign affairs, he’s tough at home too.
“We have a court that has essentially stuck its finger in God's eye. We have insulted God at the highest levels of our government. Then, we say, "Why does this happen?" It is happening because God Almighty is lifting His protection from us.” (Pat Robertson, attributing the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 to God’s judgment against the American people because of our wickedness. You can read Robertson’s entire three page statement of September 13, 2001 here.)
I love that line – “We have insulted God at the highest levels of our government.” Well, at least we didn’t send a lower level diplomat to let God know the range of human bliss and horror of which people are capable. Next is his “God told me Bush will win in a landslide” comment.
“I think George Bush is going to win in a walk. I really believe that I'm hearing from the Lord it's going to be like a blowout election of 2004. It's shaping up that way. The Lord has just blessed him.... I mean, he could make terrible mistakes and comes out of it. It doesn't make any difference what he does, good or bad. God picks him up because he's a man of prayer and God's blessing him.” (Pat Robertson, The 700 Club, January 2, 2004)
“The Constitution of the United States, for instance, is a marvelous document for self-government by the Christian people. But the minute you turn the document into the hands of non-Christian people and atheistic people they can use it to destroy the very foundation of our society. And that's what's been happening.” (Pat Robertson, The 700 Club, December 30, 1981)
“When I said during my presidential bid that I would only bring Christians and Jews into the government, I hit a firestorm. "What do you mean?" the media challenged me. "You're not going to bring atheists into the government? How dare you maintain that those who believe in the Judeo-Christian values are better qualified to govern America than Hindus and Muslims?" My simple answer is, "Yes, they are." “ (Pat Robertson, The New World Order, p. 218)
“The termites are in charge” (and they’re not Christians!)
“It is interesting, that termites don't build things, and the great builders of our nation almost to a man have been Christians, because Christians have the desire to build something. He is motivated by love of man and God, so he builds. The people who have come into [our] institutions [today] are primarily termites. They are into destroying institutions that have been built by Christians, whether it is universities, governments, our own traditions, that we have.... The termites are in charge now, and that is not the way it ought to be, and the time has arrived for a godly fumigation.” (Pat Robertson, New York Magazine, August 18, 1986)
Robertson’s big blind spot here is simply ignorance. He mistakes the evolution of societal thinking over time (from traditional, to modern, to post modern thinking) for some intentional undermining of structures he wishes wouldn’t change.
“[Planned Parenthood] is teaching kids to fornicate, teaching people to have adultery, every kind of bestiality, homosexuality, lesbianism -- everything that the Bible condemns.” (Pat Robertson, The 700 Club, April 9, 1991)
Robertson on the Role of Women
“I know this is painful for the ladies to hear, but if you get married, you have accepted the headship of a man, your husband. Christ is the head of the household and the husband is the head of the wife, and that's the way it is, period.” (Pat Robertson, The 700 Club, January 8, 1992)
“God's pattern is for men to be the leaders, both in the church and in the family... Women should listen and learn quietly and submissively. I do not let women teach men or have authority over them." (Pat Robertson, in his book, Bring It On, reciting a passage from Timothy I)
“The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.” (Pat Robertson, fundraising letter, 1992)
“N.O.W. is saying that in order to be a woman, you've got to be a lesbian.” (Pat Robertson, The 700 Club television program, December 3, 1997)
“I am absolutely persuaded one of the reasons so many lesbians are at the forefront of the pro-choice movement is because being a mother is the unique characteristic of womanhood, and these lesbians will never be mothers naturally, so they don't want anybody else to have that privilege either.” (Pat Robertson, The 700 Club, May 28, 1993)
Robertson on Homosexuality
“I would warn Orlando that you're right in the way of some serious hurricanes, and I don't think I'd be waving those flags in God's face if I were you.” (Pat Robertson, The 700 Club, August 6, 1998, talking about the 1998 Gay Pride Festival in Orlando, Florida)
Many of those people involved with Adolph Hitler were Satanists, many of them were homosexuals -- the two things seem to go together. (Pat Robertson, The 700 Club, January 21, 1993)
"I would warn Orlando that you're right in the way of some serious hurricanes and I don't think I'd be waving those flags in God's face if I were you, This is not a message of hate; this is a message of redemption. But a condition like this will bring about the destruction of your nation. It'll bring about terrorist bombs; it'll bring earthquakes, tornadoes and possibly a meteor." (Pat Robertson, The 700 Club, June 6, 1998)
If the widespread practice of homosexuality will bring about the destruction of your nation, if it will bring about terrorist bombs, if it'll bring about earthquakes, tornadoes and possibly a meteor, it isn't necessarily something we ought to open our arms to. (Pat Robertson, The 700 Club, August 6, 1998, again talking about the Orlando, Florida, Gay Pride Festival)
In Robertson’s defense, that last sentence did start with an if – a very big if.
Robertson on the Role of Christians and Christianity
“God in his great mercy has blessed America, and made this a haven for Christians and Jews alike. But we've gone away from our Christian heritage. And God has little obligation at the present time to spare America, because we are polluting the world with our television programs, our movies and so forth, our books. We are polluting the whole world. We've made the world drunk, if you will, with the wine of our fornication. The whole world has been affected by Hollywood.” (Pat Robertson, The 700 Club, December 7, 1995
“The wine of our fornication!” Can this guy turn a phrase or what? The problem with Pat Robertson is that he’s even better at twisting phrases. Though I will say that I agree with the general point – that the U. S. is exporting a particular culture and set of attitudes about the world in our radio, television, and film. But I will be damned if I’ll sit here and listen to Pat Robertson bad mouth that other Republican absolute – the free enterprise system.
“The public education movement has also been an anti-Christian movement... We can change education in America if you put Christian principles in and Christian pedagogy in. In three years, you would totally revolutionize education in America.” (Pat Robertson, The 700 Club, September 27, 1993)
“These socialists, and they're in there now, starting with the President and his associates ... they want to squeeze out religion because if people read the Bible, they can't be enslaved. You'll never have a socialist government where everybody's Christian.” (Pat Robertson, The 700 Club, February 18, 1994, on that well-known band of socialists, the Clinton administration)
Yes, but is there a down side?
“God and morality, the Clinton administration wants out of the country.” (Pat Robertson, The 700 Club, December 23, 1993)
And, most of you other religions aren’t helping much . . .
“A cult is any group that has a form of godliness, but does not recognize Jesus Christ as the unique son of God.... One test of a cult is that it often does not strictly teach that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God who Himself is God manifested in the flesh.... Christian-oriented cults include the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or Reorganized Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), the Worldwide Church of God, Christian Science, Unity, Unitarianism, The Way International, Rosicrucian Society of America, Bahai, Hare Krishna, Scientology, the Unification Church, and the Jehovah's Witnesses.” (Pat Robertson, CBN pamphlet entitled Cults, 1992)
This was Robertson’s reply when asked if there are some things that Christians feel more strongly about that non-Christians:
“I think patriotism, love of God, love of country, support of the traditional family. They [Christians] believe it would be good for our country if families were closer together.... I think they feel about them more strongly than others do.” (Pat Robertson, speaking at a rally in Lansing, Michigan, 1986)
But not all Christians are created equal.
“You say you're supposed to be nice to the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians and the Methodists and this, that, and the other thing. Nonsense. I don't have to be nice to the spirit of the Antichrist. I can love the people who hold false opinions but I don't have to be nice to them.” (Pat Robertson, The 700 Club, January 14, 1991)
The Imaginary Persecution of Christians in America
Where would 20%ers be without conspiracy theories? Robertson has his share of demons – from paranoid delusions about plots to destroy Christianity to his inability to mask his contempt for that part of his fellow men who disagree with him.
“Just like what Nazi Germany did to the Jews, so liberal America is now doing to the evangelical Christians. It's no different. It is the same thing. It is happening all over again. It is the Democratic Congress, the liberal-based media and the homosexuals who want to destroy the Christians. Wholesale abuse and discrimination and the worst bigotry directed toward any group in America today. More terrible than anything suffered by any minority in history.” (Pat Robertson, interview with Molly Ivins, 1993)
You and I have never been called upon to have this kind of persecution. I have felt it especially intensely over the last few years, as people on the left of the political spectrum are hurling viscous attacks at me and at other believers because they do not want us to have any voice in our government, they don't want us to have any voice in the public affairs of our nation, they don't want us to have any role in defending ourselves or our families, or bringing about a peaceful society in America. This virulent anti-Christian bigotry has got to stop! You cannot vote for someone who's an anti-Christian bigot. You cannot allow somebody in public office to be an anti-Christian bigot. These voices that are raised against Christianity, Christians have got to stand together and say no. (Pat Robertson, The 700 Club, November 11, 1997)
Irony is Wasted on the Literal
I’ve saved the best for last.
People For the American Way were founded by the creator of Archie Bunker. Do we want Archie Bunker determining what the United States Senate votes for?” (Pat Robertson, on The 700 Club during the Ashcroft nomination hearings, February 23, 2001)
I knew Archie Bunker. Archie Bunker was a friend of mine. And Reverend, you’re no Archie Bunker. He was moderate, tolerant, and Christian compared to you. But yes, in general YOU probably DO want Archie Bunker calling the shots. Norman Lear is a well-informed liberal. He created Archie Bunker to poke fun at a lot of America’s blind spots – particularly conservative blind spots. But Archie himself? Conservative, Republican, intolerant, ignorant of many things, self-righteous, and cocksure. That’s a Pat Robertson kind of guy!