VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Pat Robertson, the right-wing televangelist and former GOP presidential candidate who founded the locally-based Christian Broadcasting Network, died Thursday at the age of 93.
He leaves behind a significant footprint in Hampton Roads. In addition to CBN, he founded the Christian college Regent University in 1977. The campus is in Virginia Beach. A year later, he founded Operation Blessing, a humanitarian organization that provides disaster relief and other resources to those in need.
Nationally, he’s well known for helping to make Christian conservatism a powerful political movement, through his Christian Coalition and the national reach of the network’s flagship show “700 Club.” It’s a hodgepodge of news, commentary and more from Christian and right-wing perspectives, and he was the face of it for six decades until his retirement in 2021.
However, the show also gave Robertson a megaphone to share what he’s known to many for: a history of offensive comments, particularly when it came to the LGBT community, in addition to a slew of headline-making conspiratorial predictions about the end of the world.
Here’s a sampling of some of the most notable remarks.
- In 2001, he agreed with fellow Virginia evangelist Jerry Falwell that gay people, those who have abortions and others with “alternative lifestyles” helped lead to the 9/11 attacks, an argument about God’s wrath he’d later use with COVID-19.
- Three years before, he warned people that there would be hurricanes as a result of the Gay Days celebration in Orlando. “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,” he said on the 700 Club.
- He claimed that God would destroy America after New York passed its Marriage Equality Act in 2011, and in 2019 said “the land will vomit you out” if the U.S. passes the Equality Act, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to existing federal civil rights protections. “God will say, ‘I’ve had it with America. If you do this kind of stuff, I’m going to get rid of you as a nation.’”
- In 2013, Robertson made the outrageous claim on air that gay people were in San Francisco were using rings to give people AIDS when they shake hands. “Really it is that kind of vicious stuff, which would be the equivalent of murder,” Robertson said in his remarks, which he later defended in a statement to the Atlantic magazine.
Other notable comments
- Just last year, Robertson came out of retirement to share his latest prediction about the apocalypse, a central idea in his and many American evangelicals’ worldwide. He said that Russian President Vladimir Putin was “being compelled by God” to invade Ukraine in preparation for the biblical prophecy about the End Times, aka Armageddon. That apocalyptic worldwide Robertson was a key
- In 2010, he claimed the devastating earthquake in Haiti was due to a “pact to the devil” that helped them win the Haitian Revolution slave rebellion.
- In 1992, as part of a push to stop the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in Iowa, Robertson wrote that feminism is “a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”
- Robertson had a long history of anti-Islamic rhetoric, including saying on the 700 Club that “Islam, at its core, teaches violence” and that Islam was about world domination. In 2012, CBN edited out a portion of the “700 Club” after Robertson suggested that Muslim men beat their wives.
- Robertson claimed to leg press more than 2,000 pounds at age 72 in February of 2003. “I did it one time, one rep, but I had built up to it for about three years,” he told the Associated Press.