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Pat Robertson Dies at 93: Who is Televangelist Pioneer Of US Religious Right?

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Pat Robertson, the fiery televangelist who helped bring the religious right into the mainstream of US politics, died on Thursday at the age of 93, according to his organization.

According to a statement from the Christian Broadcasting Network, the veteran TV personality, religious broadcaster, and one-time presidential contender died at his home in Virginia Beach.

“His greatest treasure in life was knowing Jesus Christ and having the privilege of proclaiming Him and His power to others,” CBN said in a statement.

An avuncular presence on the daily talk show he started in 1966 — “The 700 Club,” which is still on air today — Robertson was a master at using the media to promote deeply conservative Christian values, including fiery sermons against gay rights.

His most lasting impact was to bring a politicized religious ideology into the mainstream, creating a voter bloc instrumental in bringing Donald Trump to power in 2016 and continuing to exercise enormous influence over the Republican party.

“He shattered the stain glass window,” TD Jakes, a Dallas pastor said in CBN’s statement. “People of faith were taken seriously beyond the church house and into the White House.”

Second in popularity among Christians only to his more moderate televangelist friend Billy Graham, who counseled presidents for decades, Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network reached communities across rural America.

(FILES) President of the Christian Coalition and former presidential candidate, Pat Robertson, shakes hands with supporters during the evening session of the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia’s First Union Center on 31 July, 2000. (Photo by STAN HONDA / AFP)


Over the years, the CBN network expanded to include outposts all over the world, spreading a fundamentalist, conservative interpretation of the Bible.

This includes standing firm as non-Christian religions and the gay community gained acceptability over the last two decades.

In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, Robertson stirred outrage by appearing to concur with his broadcasting sidekick Jerry Falwell that America’s tolerance for lesbians, gays, and abortionists had incurred God’s vengeance on the country.


US Republican presidential hopeful Pat Robertson urges supporters on February 6, 1988, to back his bid. (Photo by Jim CURLEY / AFP)


From small beginnings

The Christian Coalition, which Robertson formed, assisted in mobilizing US evangelicals in the political arena, corralling them into a major voting bloc that still has a stranglehold on the Republican Party.

The organization, whose head Robertson left in 2001, has long been at the vanguard of the US culture wars, lobbying Congress and the White House on moral and religious issues like as abortion and church-state separation.

After running unsuccessfully in the Republican primary in 1988, Robertson went on to play a key role in rallying conservative support for Republican candidates.

The Christian evangelical movement would become a critical source of support for Trump, propelling him to the presidency. After Trump was elected President, Robertson interviewed him on his network.

While his organization has applauded Trump with furthering the abortion-ban cause, which led to the Supreme Court’s monumental rejection of abortion rights a year ago, they were also disappointed that Trump did not stand hard against homosexual rights.

Robertson was born in Lexington, Virginia on March 22, 1930. For 34 years, his father was a conservative Democratic member of the US House of Representatives and a senator.

He studied at a military preparatory school and then Virginia’s Washington and Lee University.

In 1948 he joined the US Marines, served in Korea, and then graduated from Yale Law School.

His future media empire, CBN, had humble beginnings, launching in 1961 from a small television station in Tidewater, Virginia.

But over the decades the network would become a mainstream stop for political candidates courting Christian voters: guests included Republicans Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump and Democrat Jimmy Carter.

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