Notable conservative Christian broadcaster and onetime presidential candidate Pat Robertson, widely known as the long-serving host of the popular Christian Broadcasting Network program “The 700 Club,” has died. He was 93 years old.
CBN News released a statement announcing Robertson died in his Virginia Beach home Thursday morning. Robertson is survived by four children, 14 grandchildren, and 24 great-grandchildren.
“Pat Robertson dedicated his life to preaching the Gospel, helping those in need, and educating the next generation,” stated CBN.
“Pat had a hunger for knowledge of the Lord, and he wanted to share the love and faithfulness of Jesus with the world. His heart desired that all people come to know Jesus.”
Born Marion Gordon Robertson in Lexington, Virginia, on March 22, 1930, Robertson had an extensive educational background, earning a bachelor of arts magna cum laude from Washington and Lee University in 1950, a juris doctor degree from Yale University Law School in 1955, and a master of divinity from New York Theological Seminary in 1959.
Robertson served as a reservist in the U.S. Marine Corps, eventually being sent to Korea during the 1950s war, where he chiefly served at a headquarters a few miles from the front.
In 1960, Robertson was ordained a Southern Baptist minister by Freemason Street Baptist Church of Norfolk, Virginia. He later had his ordination vows terminated when he ran for president of the United States in 1988.
In 1954, Robertson married Adelia Elmer, with their union lasting until she died in 2022. The couple had four children, including the current lead host for “The 700 Club,” Gordon Robertson.
In 1960, Robertson founded the Christian Broadcasting Network or CBN. Its flagship program, “The 700 Club,” remained a regular fixture on national television into the 21st century.
Begun as a local television station in Portsmouth, Virginia, CBN’s programming can now be viewed globally.
“Today, CBN is a multifaceted nonprofit organization that provides programming by cable, broadcast, and satellite to approximately 200 countries, with a 24-hour telephone prayer line,” noted the station’s website.
“CBN’s international ministry has worked in 122 languages, from Mandarin to Spanish and Turkish to Welsh.”
In 1977, Robertson founded Regent University in Virginia Beach, serving as its president and chancellor for many years. The following year, he founded Operation Blessing International Relief and Development Corporation.
Robertson founded and co-chaired International Family Entertainment, Inc. in 1990, which became the Fox Family Channel and then ABC Family when Disney acquired it in 2001.
Robertson also helped found the conservative law firm the American Center for Law & Justice in 1990 and has authored nearly 20 fiction and nonfiction books.
Robertson’s books include Beyond Reason: How Miracles Can Change Your Life (1985), The New World Order (1991), The End of the Age (2002), The Ten Offenses (2004), and America’s Dates With Destiny.
In 1986, Robertson announced his intention to seek the Republican presidential nomination in the 1988 election. While his campaign was well funded and finished strong in Iowa and Minnesota, he eventually lost the nomination to George H.W. Bush.
In 1987, Robertson founded the conservative political advocacy organization the Christian Coalition. In the 1990s, the Christian Coalition began producing nonpartisan voter guides distributed at churches. The IRS denied the group tax-exempt status in 1999 amid complaints that the voter guides were partisan.
As a public figure who frequently commented on social issues, religion, and politics, Robertson often garnered backlash for provocative remarks, especially while host of “The 700 Club.”
Two days after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, Robertson invited Rev. Jerry Falwell on “The 700 Club.” When Falwell blamed 9/11 on America’s growing acceptance of socially liberal ideas, Robertson replied, “I concur.”
Soon after the broadcast aired, Robertson released a statement clarifying that “no one other than the terrorists and the people and nations who have enabled and harbored them responsible for [the] attacks on this nation.”
In 2010 after a devastating earthquake hit Haiti, Robertson blamed the disaster on the Caribbean nation’s acceptance of Voodoo and an alleged pact with the devil made at their founding.
“And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, ‘We will serve you if you free us from the French.’ True story. And so the devil said, ‘OK, it’s a deal,'” stated Robertson.
During the 2010s, Robertson endorsed decriminalizing marijuana and once argued that people married to those suffering from Alzheimer’s were allowed to divorce them because of the illness. He also suggested that the United States assassinate Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, which he later apologized for.
A staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, he inaccurately predicted that Trump would win reelection in 2020, only to later acknowledge in December that Democrat challenger Joe Biden had rightfully won.
In August 2017, Robertson was hospitalized following a fall from a horse. He suffered minor injuries and was back to hosting “The 700 Club” later that month.
Robertson suffered an embolic stroke in 2018, prompting him to be hospitalized for a few days. He returned to host the program later that month, referring to his recovery as an example of God’s “miraculous healing.”
On October 1, 2021, as part of the 60th anniversary of “The 700 Club,” Robertson announced that he was stepping down as the regular lead host of the long-running Christian talk show after 55 years.
Robertson occasionally made guest appearances and continued to teach and lead at Regent University.