I am a Christian pastor and I am angry with Pat Robertson …

Initially I was not going to post on this but I changed my mind right after this conversation with the barista at Borders, “Hey you’re a pastor, what did you think of what Pat Robertson said?”.  I said it was terrible, spoke on the distraction that it’s causing the suffering in Haiti and said a couple of things, including it was not Christ-llike.  He responded with, “Yeah, but all those guys are like that …maybe not you personally but …” and preceded to tell me why Christians suck.

“It may be a blessing in disguise. … Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. Haitians were originally under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon the third, or whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, we will serve you if you will get us free from the French. True story. And so, the devil said, okay it’s a deal. Ever since they have been cursed by one thing after the other.” –Pat Robertson, on the earthquake in Haiti that destroyed the capital and killed tens of thousands of people, Jan. 13, 2010

I am a Christian pastor and I am angry with Pat Robertson … but it’s what I do next that matters.

Can I love Pat Robertson?
Words cannot express my frustration with this man.  If the word “optimism” comes to mind when hearing of the death of thousands of people, then it is more likely that he is actually delusional then a Spirit-filled Christian.  Watching this video is painful and I will not be convinced that we are watching and hearing the words of a healthy Christian mind.  It isn’t just bad theology, it’s a complete lack of compassion being broadcast to millions of people. Allowing this man to appear on television today was a sin for the Church.

Frankly, I find his continued actions to be absolutely deplorable. He’s on a short list of people (Osama, Ahmadinejad, Fred Phelps …). That said, I find the words of Jesus to be even more powerful than this terrible informed man who has diarrhea of the mouth. I can find forgiveness and with God’s grace, I can love the corrupt, the terrorist, all evildoers, even myself. I know that I must pray for this man.  I must pray for my treatment of him.  I must pray for those around him, for those who regard him as a hero and for those that see him as a delusional, crazy, idiot.  As you can see, there’s a lot to pray for but many of us have prayed these prayers before.  And if we cannot find it within in our souls to pray for this man, then the gospel is not in us.  For more see Evan Curry’s post, “Pat You Are Wrong But I Forgive You”.

However, as a Christian community, we are overdue in trying to find a way to remove this man from this position. This is not the first time he has said such things.  We must lovingly remove this man from his microphone. I am not suggesting that we assassinate him like how he suggested that someone assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Nor am I saying that he is/was not a Christian. While I am tempted to trade him to a different religion (“Someone get Phil Jackson’s agent on the line!”), I think it’s time that he step down or be removed from his position.

I know he’s only a televangelist and the people who watch him and support him are the same who purchase exercise products and “get rich quick” videos from noon til 2am but it’s time to pull the plug on the 700 Club and quite possible the network he founded.  How does one stop a network? Does anyone have any actual experience in this? This might become a post-seminary goal right after starting a pub church. I’m thinking the way not to go is creating another Facebook group that begins with “1 Million Christians Who …”. While I applaud their efforts in somehow keeping email free (thereby demonstrating that God is clearly on their side), these groups usually only manage to annoy Christians and non-Christians. Chances are the network will die when Pat passes on (biting my digital tongue) or when the Golden and Boomer generations run out of money but I think as a Church, we need to remove this man as soon as possible and I think it’s time for his network to put on a farewell special for him.

“Can’t we just ignore him?”
I read a tweet of someone I respect and he mentioned that we ought not to call attention to Robertson comparing him to a crazy uncle of some sort.  (It reminded of that scene in Charlie Wilson’s War when Tom Hanks yells, “This is the Cold War – everybody knows about it!”.  Well, for starters, I’ve never had the proverbial crazy uncle. So I’m not sure how that goes. But in the same way that I expect moderate, peace-keeping Muslims to renounce extremists, I am among the many who are renouncing Pat Robertson. He’s like a suicide bomber minus the high commitment level. Seriously, we cannot keep dismissing this man as a senile old man, the old man needs to step down – it’s what a loving Church should do for the encouragement to itself, for the witness of those outside the faith and for the sake of the Kingdom.

For further reading, these are the posts that helped temper me.  One last thought though, please do not channel your grief of the crisis in Haiti  towards this man and not to do something redemptive with that energy (like pray, give, find opportunities to help, etc.).

A Response to Pat Robertson’s Comments about Haiti by Don Miller

“God, Jesus Announce Boycott of 700 Club” by the Desperate Blogger’s Salon page – this one made me laugh.

Why It Matters How We Respond to Bad Theology by Ed Cyzewski


  1. I cringe when I hear about these kinds of comments, especially since I went to Regent University (more commonly known as “Pat Robertson’s School”), a fact I tend to keep quiet. I also worked for The 700 Club for a while. Believe it or not, they do have some good content — it’s just buried in the outrageous statements like this one.

    At any rate, I do wish Pat Robertson would go off the air, but I don’t think we as a church should try to remove him. That would violate the First Amendment, which I believe in almost as strongly as I believe in the Bible, and even worse, would publicly cause more division. (“Those Christians can’t even get along with each other!”)

    I think the only solution to the problem is for the rest of us to start acting more like Christ so that people will have a better image of Christians.

    It’s not an easy task, I know. But wouldn’t it be great if the next time a natural disaster strikes, people think not of Pat Robertson but of Christians like those involved in Samaritan’s Purse or like Greg & Jasmine Martinson (missionaries who have started an orphanage in Haiti)?

    By the way, did you get my request to join my Facebook group, “1,000,000 people who enjoy Tim’s blog”?

  2. …..you know when you see a car driving down the highway at 45-mph and when you look over its some grandpa who really shouldn’t be driving anymore? I think that about Pat Robertson and a TV Camera. I respect what he has done in his lifetime, but maybe it’s time to let someone else drive…..

  3. LOL – Thanks Shannon.

    It’s interesting the similarities between us. I graduated from Liberty U (Jerry Falwell’s school), because of a call center near campus, I worked for Falwell ministries, Promise Keepers, Stanely, and countless others (I got stories sister). And I agree that even this ministries have put out good things (but let’s me honest, God spoke through a donkey in the Old Testament, He can probably manage to speak through a Christian broadcast network ;-)

    Anyway, interesting that the First Amendment came to your mind. I’m not suggesting that he does not have the right as a citizen, I’m approaching this from within the Christian community (which I suppose begs the question, does he have the right to speak in/out of the Church? There’s a lot to unpackage there.) Still unconvinced that he can’t/shouldn’t be removed but I value your words and think more about that.

    I completely agree with how our witness ought to be during disaster (and apart from disaster). Thankfully there has been a great deal of Christian mission in Haiti. People can argue how effective it has been but for me, it was good to see that there has already been a Christian presence.

  4. Love it Frank – thanks.

  5. And I think it is two different matters, speaking within or without the Christian community. If you see him as a church leader/pastor, yes, the church can (and probably should) remove him for preaching heresy or at least for making false prophecies. Unfortunately, he doesn’t really have a denomination or a congregation to hold him accountable as a leader.

    If you see him as a broadcaster speaking to outsiders as an individual Christian, we (unfortunately) have no right to remove him. It does seem a shame we can’t choose who will serve as representatives of the church in the public’s eye, but how would we ever choose someone for that role, anyway? Some congregations can’t even agree on what style of music to use in a service.

  6. Thumbs up to this article! It is very much needed and very much appreciated! As a Roman Catholic, I know how hard it can be to criticize those within your own tradition or denomination, however, ALL CHRISTIANS, whatever church they may attend, must take a stand against those speaking and behaving AGAINST what Christ called us to do.

    Pat Robertson’s words are neither neighborly or loving, not peace-making nor spirit-filled. Instead, they are mean spirited and unkind. Christ expects much of his believers…Pat Robertson should re-read the Gospels and, while he does, those that have the power should call him to step down and let someone who understands God’s compassion step up!

    Pax Christi,

  7. Thanks for the followup comment, Shannon.
    Point taken, that’s a very legit question.

    I hesitated in replying at risk of offending but I think we are close on the same page.

    I think Frank makes a good point through his sarcasm.
    Similar to how we stop our aging parents/grandparents from driving because they pose a risk to others and themselves, a similar case could be made in removing Robertson from the air. We remove televangelists, pastors, and types of leaders all the time for moral indiscretion (a terrible shame btw). While this particular situation has obvious differences, I think there are some similarities as well.

    How does one actually do that is the question? I am convinced that we are overdue in calling our televangelists (and not just Robertson) to account and removing them if/when necessary.

    Thanks for the comments, it brought deeper reflection.

  8. You don’t need to worry about offending me. I’m rarely (if every) offended by thoughtful and respectful debate. In fact, I enjoy it and am glad to read something that challenges my way of thinking instead of attacking it.

    (I was offended today when I read about an “expert” who “bristles” when someone calls parenting a job. She insists it’s a relationship. But when I’m at home with the kids, cleaning up after them and trying to teach them the right way to live, it sure seems like a job to me. I’m insulted that someone thinks I’m not really working.)

    But I digress . . . YOU got me thinking some more. I wonder if Robertson’s home church should be holding him accountable for his words. Usually church discipline is reserved for, as you say, “moral indiscretion,” but maybe his church should be following the steps in Matthew 18:15-17, encouraging him to stop bearing false witness.

  9. Jennifer, my sister, your comment snuck in there and I didn’t see it til now – thanks for posting.

    Thanks for your words, I can’t agree more. While I assume he probably reads the gospels (and all of Scripture) all the time, I think he needs a new hermeneutic (a new lens of interpretation). From where I sit, he sees a very vengeful God that is actively punishing people for their sin. While I believe that God disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12), I find it very foolish to give reasons for tragedies. I’ve spoken about this numerous times (Katrina, tsunami, etc.) but to the point, it’s not only speculative, it’s bad theology. God is not up there ready for us to screw up so he can zap us.

    Things like earthquakes, tsunamis, cancer, etc. happen because we live in a fallen evil world in need of redemption. God is in the redemption.

    Jen, that’s an interesting point you make about being RC and calling for accountability from your leaders. I probably should have stated this earlier but as we all know, none of us are immune to foolishness. Our pride easily can blind us so we must be humble. So in the kingdom of God, where the first shall be last and the last shall be first, it seems our leaders (RC, Orthodox, Protestant, etc) should embody this.

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