On Pat Robertson
(I also write extensively about Pat here, regarding Charismatic sign-gifts and their legitimacy.)
I believe that, mixed in with the true things he says, that he also says many false things, and sometimes even dangerous ones spiritually or politically.
In addition to what I wrote on page 1, here are more of my reasons why Pat Robertson should be dismissed as a charlatan and a liar both about politics and spiritual things, and why The 700 Club should be treated as a whacked-out religious far-right propaganda machine rather than a good, Christian show:
I watched The 700 Club from 1987 or 1988 until maybe 1993, plus occasionally around 1985 or 1986 when I was 12. That would be my late teens until my very early 20s. I heard many things that later turned out to be wrong.
- For example, Dungeons and Dragons is not a Satanic game that will possess you with demons and make you want to become a Satan worshipper.
- The existence of Satanic Ritual Abuse is highly questionable, though the occasional psycho may imitate it.
- We did not get the whole story on various news stories about liberal vs. conservative issues. They were more heavily biased on the conservative side than even the “liberal media” supposedly was on the liberal side. (They were like Fox News is today.)
- God has not been taken out of the schools with some sort of Nazi vigor, and personal prayer is not forbidden. Christian students are not being persecuted left and right by school systems. (It may happen, but probably not that often.) My high school allowed us to post Campus Life announcements and have a prayer group in a classroom after school.
- Operation Rescue is not necessarily doing the right thing with their “civil disobedience.”
- Liberals and Democrats are not the servants of the Evil One.
- Feminists did not cause the downfall of civilization.
- The government persecution of Christians in the USA is greatly overrated, and we do not need new laws to fight it (or to take rights from other groups).
- Celebrating Halloween does not mean you are corrupting children or worshipping Satan.
- Creationism has no business in a science classroom, unless you’re also going to include the creation stories of every other religion.
Pat Robertson would go off by himself every year to pray and fast and get prophecies from God about the coming year. On the show, the co-host would read over his predictions from the last year and say how they all came true. Then Pat would give his predictions for the coming year.
I believed in this for some time because I would write them down and they all seemed to come true. I taped the show, so I got his words exactly.
Of course, I have a copy of Pat’s Perspective from March-April 1992. It’s especially amusing how he congratulated himself on the first page for telling Perspective readers in advance about all the things that would happen during the war.
He may have been right about that, but more often than not, this copy of the Perspective is filled with things that turned out to be wrong.
For example, by now we’re supposed to be under New Age leadership in the New World Order and facing devastating consequences for our Christian freedom. We all know that hasn’t happened.
Also, George H.W. Bush ran for re-election with his sitting VP, Dan Quayle, not with Colin Powell.
Starting at the end of the Gulf War, Pat said God told him that Bush would ride the euphoria of a successful war all the way into re-election in 1992. He kept saying this, so there was no mistaking what he said.
He also blamed liberals and Democrats for society’s ills and for leading America down a path of unrighteousness.
So I supported Bush and, even when I thought maybe Clinton had a better position on some issue, I’d think, “What’s the point of supporting Clinton when Bush is going to win?”
So I wore the button and followed the Republican party line. I proudly stated who I was voting for, and expected all those misguided Clinton-supporters surrounding me to be sorely disappointed when the election finally came around. They said Clinton would win and how they did not like Bush; I secretly laughed.
When polls showed Clinton in the lead, I knew the polls were wrong and could not change what God proclaimed. When Bush won, I would hold my head high because I voted for the winner.
Well, we all know what happened in 1992. I watched the election returns in disbelief as Clinton decisively defeated Bush.
I watched The 700 Club every night afterwards for Pat’s explanation. Ben Kinchlow finally brought it up one day.
He said this guy came up to him with tears running down his face and said, “What happened?” Pat’s response: “I guess I missed it.”
Now there is a philosophy out there that these days, prophets can occasionally be wrong. Pat and such writers as Jack Deere hold to this philosophy, that sometimes prophets think they hear God but it’s really themselves, and that prophets should never say, “thus says the Lord.”
But where does the Bible say things have changed? It clearly states that if a prophet is ever wrong, that is a false prophet and not from God. And the biblical prophets surely must have known how to tell the difference between themselves and God’s voice, because they repeatedly said, “thus says the Lord.”
Benny Hinn is in this same category. He once came on The 700 Club and said he’d been taken into a trance by God, who took his spirit over various parts of the earth and showed him things that would happen in the 1990s.
In naïve gullibility, I wrote these things down exactly. I’m not sure where that paper is now, but I remember that few, if any, of those things came true.
- I remember him saying that two of God’s “great giants” would die in the 90s. I thought this meant Billy Graham (or even Pat Robertson).
- I remember there was supposed to be a wondrous revival in which people would be in the parking lot on their way into church, and get healed.
- One of the prophecies I remember distinctly: “Castro’s Cuba will fall in the 90s.” Well, that never happened.
- I remember a prophecy in the early 90s that there would be an economic collapse and only the givers in the church would survive. Was that Benny Hinn? There are accounts of him saying such things in 1999, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he said it on The 700 Club in the early 90s as well. Or it could have been Pat Robertson, giving one of his own yearly prophecies.
So Benny Hinn is also a false prophet who, like Pat Robertson, has lots of followers and tons of money coming in. And if they’re false prophets, then their faith healing, “words of knowledge”/prophecies, and religious teachings are also suspect.
Benny Hinn–False Prophet Extroardinaire by Jackie Alnor
Questions for Benny Hinn by Bill Alnor
This website lists many prophecies for the 90s, several of which sound like the ones on my missing paper. (Also note that God destroying the homosexual community with fire in the mid-90s is greeted with a round of applause.) He says that Fidel Castro will die in the 90s. Um, no.: Benny Hinn Prophesies for the Mid-90s
A simple Google search on “Benny Hinn prophecy 90s Castro” reveals many more websites exposing Benny Hinn’s false prophecies.
On faith healers in general, naming several well-known ones: The Hurt of Healing
Check out this video exposing fake evangelists: Marjoe Gortner Exposes Fake Preachers It’s about an “evangelist” who conned congregations for years, explaining how he did it.
I’ve found references to these allegations against Pat Robertson in various news sources: Pat Robertson’s Right-Wing Gold Mine by Bill Sizemore, Pat Robertson’s Gold by Colbert I. King
Wikipedia has three good articles on Pat Robertson, collecting various facts and references together in one place so you can research them further: The 700 Club, Pat Robertson, Pat Robertson Controversies
ABC exposé on Pat Robertson’s Operation Blessing during the Katrina disaster: Some Question Robertson’s Katrina Charity
Also read Pat Robertson’s Katrina Cash by Max Blumenthal
Quoted from Deception in the Church:
Gerry Straub, a former associate of Pat Robertson and his television producer, pointed out that in his book Salvation for Sale the astonishing fact that God seemed able to time miracles to conform with standard television format.
God would stop speaking to Pat and stop healing exactly in time with the theme music. He described his former employer’s “Word of Knowledge” performance:
“There was nothing ‘mystical’ to understand; it was simply ‘statistical’. Robertson’s little faith-healing procedure is a charade — he simply ‘calls out’ an illness and predicts its cure, and with millions of viewers the statistical probabilities are that someone will have the disease named and that they they will naturally recover. People put their faith in the belief that God speaks to Pat.” (James Randi, The Faith Healers, 1989, p.201)
(Gerry) Straub relates a nonmiracle he witnessed while still a believer in the ministry he worked for. He describes Robertson, at the close of a ‘700 Club’ videotaping, shaking hands with members of the studio audience:
“He stopped when he reached a man sitting in a wheelchair … Pat … laid hands on him as everyone prayed for healing … at Pat’s urging the man stood up. The people cheered as the man took a couple of very shaky, small steps.
“While everyone applauded God, I feared the man might fall. The next day we showed the nation the miracle (on the ‘700 Club’ broadcast). I simply wanted to know if the old man in the wheelchair was permanently healed by God or if he temporarily thought that he was healed.
“A few weeks later I had an assistant track down the man’s family in order to see if the cure had lasted. He had died 10 days after his visit to [the Christian Broadcasting Netwark]. We reported his ‘healing’ but not his death.” (James Randi, The Faith Healers, 1989, p.201)
“(Gerry) Staub sums up his experience with faith-healing in the Robertson ministry with these words:
“During my two and a half years at [Christian Broadcasting Network], I never saw one clear-cut, ‘beyond a shadow of a doubt’ type of healing; however, I did see a tremendous amount of faith in healing — cleverly created, I believe, by Pat Robertson …
“The prophet-turned-healer could have been described as prophet-turned-fake for the sake of profit.” (James Randi, The Faith Healers, 1989, p.202)
For many years, Pat Robertson’s book Answers to 200 of Life’s Most Probing Questions had an honored place on my bookshelf. But on the night of June 14, 2005, I flipped through it and realized that it is full of errors, particularly prosperity theology.
There is the error of seeing spirits/demons in everything, even things that are easily explained by human nature.
And don’t forget his teachings that you can get words of wisdom/knowledge (prophecies) in your everyday life by following these simple steps.
Apparently these teachings come out of the charismatic traditions. The last two teachings in particular, on demons and prophecies, really screwed me up in college. Freshman and sophomore years would have gone a lot easier if I hadn’t seen demons in everything and followed words of wisdom that were not real.
Yet I did as Pat said when I got the “words,” and even tested them! Despite what some people might have thought, I was not going off the deep end; I was just misguided by a popular show and charismatic teachings.
By some accounts, The 700 Club is the “most respected” Christian TV show! And, after feeling like it was just me, I have since discovered that all sorts of people have done the same things I have, getting words about whom they’ll marry (and getting it wrong), seeing demons and spiritual warfare in everything, etc.
I’m told that young people are especially susceptible to these things, wanting to be special, feeling passionate about God, wanting to know God’s will as they make big decisions about careers and spouses, and wanting to see the supernatural in their lives.
This is a real-life demonstration for you of the harm that such teachings can cause. I shudder to think now of how this affected me in college and the actions I took because of it. I would have let go of my ex much sooner if I could’ve simply listened to friends who said he has either changed a lot, or he only pretended to be what you wanted.
If not for the deception of the “words,” I could’ve seen he was not right for me, and God did not “choose” him for me. Instead, I fought my “unbelief” and strove to “lean on the promise” even when I fell out of love and wanted to move on.
I don’t think we need to consult God on everything from breakfast to whether or not to accept a date to what career to choose. I don’t believe he is into micromanaging our lives; he has enough to do already. Instead, we should read the Bible and learn how to make these decisions ourselves in keeping with God’s principles.
In 200 Questions, Pat gave some reasons why someone would pray for healing and not get it:
- We do not “exercise true spiritual discernment” (for the cause of an illness),
- “[o]ur access to power is clouded by sin and unbelief, or earthly cares,”
- “many people have been taught that God does not heal today,”
- some people enjoy being sick (“an excuse not to face up to life”), they don’t want to be healed,
- “unconfessed sin,”
- demons are causing the sickness and need to be cast out,
- they are not receptive or do not appreciate the promises and the truth of God (p.238-239).
Basically, it all comes down to you. It apparently has nothing to do with God healing through medicine, God’s will, or natural forces. It ignores the fact that many devout Christians suffer from chronic illness, arthritis, even a disability.
But in the book of Job we are taught not to call sickness or calamity a punishment for sin. So if we are not healed, how does it follow that our sin is the reason? How about an easier answer: It’s because the faith healer is a charlatan!
In 200 Questions, there is a lot of stuff about moneymaking: If you invest this much for so long, you can end up with $50 million. Why does financial advice belong in a religious book?
Another page says you can do “anticipatory tithing”: “Consider the income that you anticipate receiving, and tithe as if you already had it” (p. 146).
There’s that old prosperity doctrine again! Tithing is supposed to be an offering, not an “investment” with expectation of returns! And how about this:
Thinking about [tithing] causes me to speculate on an ideal taxation system. It would be wonderful if 10 percent of everyone’s income would go toward religious instruction, teaching, and worship so that the whole population could be instructed in the Word of God.
Then, a second 10 percent could go for welfare, roads, harbors, various social projects, old age relief, and any other social needs.
Then, another 5 percent or so could be spent on personal vacations. Not vacations that were orgies of lust and personal pleasure, but vacations where people rested, worshiped and enjoyed God, thanking Him for what He had done.
This would be a time when people could go to pleasant places and eat good food. They could relax, praise the Lord, and acknowledge that He is in their midst.
This plan would require 25 percent of our national income. I believe that if we adopted the first 10 percent for religious training, our needs for welfare would be reduced dramatically as people began to look after their own elderly and their own sick, thereby reducing the burden on government (p. 145-146).
I’m not making this up. It’s right there in the book. It’s wrong on SO many levels.
Even your vacation plans have to be religious under this government taxation system?
Somehow I don’t think Congress and the many Americans of other faiths (and no faith) would go for that system! I wouldn’t because I have a bad feeling about what Pat means by “instructed in the Word of God.”
I don’t want to live in any sort of theocracy–fundamentalist Islam, fundamentalist Christian, fundamentalist anything.
(Though Pat speaks of a future “theocracy” under the reign of Christ on Earth, I lean more toward the interpretation that Christ’s reign is a spiritual one, not a political one. It is not limited by time or earthly systems; it does not have to wait for the “Millennium,” and does not have to end after 1000 years. I believe we are already in the Millennium.)
And maybe you don’t have even that 5% for personal vacations because you have a tiny income that hasn’t been properly “blessed.”
And maybe there are people who don’t “look after their own elderly and their own sick” because they can’t, not because they’re degenerates who don’t take responsibility. Sometimes getting a nurse is the responsible thing to do, because you’re already stretched to the limit by holding down a job and raising a family–or you’re sick yourself.
And 25% is pretty high; isn’t that more like the level of taxation that the wealthy get?
Don’t forget that after all those taxes, tithing 10 percent is an “irreducible minimum” (term used p. 146). There’s 35% of your income gone right there, no deductions, no progressive taxation levels.
If you made only $20,000 a year, you’d have $13,000 left to live on. And you’d be living in a theocracy based on a faith you may not even share.
Yeah, sure even a blind squirrel can find a nut sometimes. Sometimes Pat says things that are actually true.
But considering what Pat Robertson says about such things as prosperity theology–
and the way he makes the Republican Party sound like God’s Own Party and the Democrat Party sound like moral degenerates–
I would trust nothing that comes out of his mouth unless I can back it up in Scripture. That includes his teachings on words of knowledge/wisdom.
It’s scary to think of the influence this guy has, and the influence he once had on me. It took many years of progressively discovering the truth, to break out of his programming.
I have read webpages which charge Pat Robertson with not being a Christian. I will not go that far.
But I am convinced that The 700 Club is not just an innocent TV program giving God’s perspective and teaching God’s truth.
I believe it is being used not only to spread false doctrines that twist God’s word, whether out of Pat’s design or ignorance, but also to form a far-right political army to push its own agenda on the rest of the country.
I believe Pat is being treated as a prophet so that this “army” will not only listen to him, but send him money.
I believe that these things are poisoning the Evangelical church.
This columnist expresses what Pat Robertson-type teachings are doing to the Evangelical church, though he does not name Pat (who is probably not the only one teaching them): A Too-Thin Slice of “Moral Values” by Ed Scholl
More: Pat Robertson and the 700 Club by Fred M. Fariss
Index to my theology/church opinion pages:
–End Times and Christian Zionism
–God’s Purpose/Supremacy of God Doctrine
–Cat and Dog Theology
–Raising One’s Hands in Worship
–On the “still, small voice” and Charismatic sign gifts
–On church buildings
–The Message Bible
–The Purpose-Driven Life
–The Relevance Doctrine, i.e. Marketing Churches to Seekers
–The idea that God has someone in mind for you
–Literalism in Biblical interpretation
–Name it and Claim It Doctrine, Prosperity Doctrine, Faith-Formula Theology, Word-Faith Theology, Positive Confession Theology, Health and Wealth Gospel, and whatever else they call it
–More about Pat Robertson
–Dr. Richard Eby and others who claim to have been to Heaven
–Women in Marriage/the Church
–Why do bad things happen?
–Should we criticize our brethren’s artistic or evangelistic attempts? Or, how should we evangelize, then?
–Angels: Is “This Present Darkness” by Frank Peretti a divine revelation or fiction?
–Halloween: Not the Devil’s Holiday!
–Hell and the Nature of God
–Is Christmas/Easter a Pagan Holiday?
–Is everybody going to Hell except Christians?
–How could a loving God who prohibits murder, command the genocide of the Canaanite peoples?
–What about predestination?
–Musings on Sin, Salvation and Discipleship
–An Ancient View which is in the Bible, yet new to the west–Uncreated Energies of God
–Technical Virginity–i.e., how far should a Christian single go?
–Are Spiritual Marriages “real”? (also in “Life” section, where it’s more likely to be updated)
–Does the Pill cause abortions, or is that just another weird Internet or extremist right-wing rumor?
–What about Missional Churches, Simple Churches, Fluid Churches, Organic Churches, House Churches or Neighborhood Churches?
–Is Wine from the Devil–or a Gift from God?
–What is Worship?
–Evangelistic Trips to Already Christianized Countries
–Fraternities, Sororities, Masonic Lodge
–Was Cassie Bernall a Martyr?
–Some Awesome Things heard in the Lamentations Service (Good Friday evening) during Holy Week