Pat Robertson, a controversial televangelist and architect of the religious right, has died at the age of 91. Robertson was best known for his long-running talk show, The 700 Club, which guided conservative Christians through domestic politics and international affairs. He was also a pioneer in the Christian broadcasting industry and helped elevate many Republican politicians. Robertson briefly entered politics himself, making a run for the 1988 Republican presidential nomination as both a social and fiscal conservative. He founded the Christian Broadcasting Network in 1960 and later founded Regent University in Virginia Beach. Robertson frequently made anti-gay remarks throughout his career.
Pat Robertson, the controversial televangelist and architect of the religious right, died at home on June 8, surrounded by family. For generations of conservative Christians, Robertson was a familiar face on television, guiding them through domestic politics and international affairs on his long-running talk show, The 700 Club.
Robertson’s roots were in the white evangelical Christian church, as an ordained pastor. In 1960, he founded the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) in Virginia, holding telethons to pay the bills. The network and its programs would eventually spread around the world. CBN’s success spurred Robertson to found a Christian college, now known as Regent University, in Virginia Beach in the late 1970s.
A decade later, Robertson set his sights higher, making a run for the 1988 Republican presidential nomination as both a social and fiscal conservative. Although his campaign was ultimately unsuccessful, Robertson helped make religion central to Republican Party politics in America through his Christian Coalition.
But Robertson was also known for his controversial remarks, particularly on LGBTQ+ issues. In 1992, he referred to gay people as “perverted,” and in 2013, he claimed that gay people were intentionally spreading HIV/AIDS through secret rings that could cut people’s fingers. He also frequently made anti-Muslim comments, once calling Islam a “violent political system.”
Despite his controversial remarks, Robertson remained a powerful figure in the religious right and the Christian broadcasting industry until his death. His legacy, however, is a complicated one, as he both elevated many Republican politicians and perpetuated harmful stereotypes and rhetoric against marginalized communities.
As news of Robertson’s death spread, many took to social media to share their thoughts and memories of the influential televangelist. Some praised his contributions to the Christian broadcasting industry and his advocacy for conservative values, while others criticized his harmful rhetoric and anti-LGBTQ+ views.
Regardless of one’s opinion of Robertson, his impact on American politics and the religious right cannot be denied. As the country continues to grapple with issues of faith, politics, and social justice, Robertson’s legacy will continue to be felt for years to come.