AKA Marion Gordon Robertson
Birthplace: Lexington, VA
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Religion, Talk Show Host
Party Affiliation: Republican
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: The 700 Club
Military service: US Marine Corps (1950-52, to First Lieutenant)
Reverend Pat Robertson has been one of America's foremost TV preachers for decades, mingling politics, religion, and capitalism, and God has been very good to Rev. Robertson — his net worth is estimated to be between $200-million and $1-billion.
His father was a US Congressman from 1933-46, and a US Senator from 1946-67. A typical conservative "Southern Democrat" from the era when segregation was rarely questioned, Sen. Absalom Willis Robertson is remembered as a staunch supporter of Jim Crow laws and for his outspoken criticism of the US Supreme Court's Brown v Board of Education decision, ending segregated schools. Furious at the Democratic Party's attention to civil rights, Sen. Robertson was one of the architects of the Republican Party's "Southern Strategy" of using racism to win votes in Southern states. Robertson's father is buried at the prestigious Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery in Lexington, Virginia.
Growing up in an family that was drenched in politics, Robertson has joked that his first words were "Mama", "Daddy", and "constituent". By the age of 13, he was a troublesome kid, who smoked, drank, was popular with girls, and frequently stayed out until 3:00 in the morning. He attended military prep school, and has described a rambunctious lifestyle through his early years in college.
He enlisted in the Marine Reserves and attended law school, but his education was interrupted when he was called to active duty for the Korean conflict. Robertson has referred repeatedly to his time "in combat" in Korea, but years later California Congressman Pete McCloskey, who also served in Korea, remembered hearing Robertson brag that his father, the Senator, "had gotten him out of combat duty" and that Robertson had done his clerical work in a quiet administrative office. Robertson publicly announced a lawsuit against McCloskey for saying this, then quietly dropped the suit due to "scheduling conflicts" and paid McCloskey's court costs.
After his discharge from the military, Robertson became a lawyer, but not a very successful one. He developed a gambling habit that often left him broke, and he says he decided to become a minister before he considered himself a Christian. When he told his mother his plans, she put him in contact with a visiting missionary from Holland, who, according to Robertson, "quietly led me to the Lord over dinner in a Philadelphia restaurant."
For decades Robertson said that he and his wife were married in March 1954, nine months before his first son's birthday. When he ran for President, however, Time magazine dug up Robertson's marriage license, and found that he was married in August of 1954, about ten weeks before his first son's birthday. Robertson said he and his wife had always celebrate their anniversary in March, on his own birthday, "because our son was conceived that day." In more recent public biographies, Robertson's wedding date is listed correctly, but now his firstborn son is frequently listed as having been born in 1955.
Robertson started the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) in 1960, with a single TV station in Portsmouth, Virginia. A key turning point came in 1963, when Robertson told his TV audience that if only 700 donors pledged $10 a month, the station could meet its budget and expand its operations. With many more than 700 members, and many pledges more than $10, CBN soon began buying television and radio stations across the country. Robertson's 700 Club and other CBN programming is now available via cable, broadcast, and satellite around the clock in more than 70 languages.
With funding from beer moguls Joseph Coors, Sr. and The Coors Foundation, Robertson founded CBN University, which later changed its name to Regent University. CBN Cable, once a separate company in the Robertson empire, was sold first to Fox and later to ABC; it is now called ABC Family Channel. It still airs The 700 Club several times daily, and thanks to an iron-clad clause in the sales contract, subsequent owners are not permitted to cancel Robertson's program.
Robertson has repeatedly made news with public statements that seem to be curiously at odds with the teachings of Jesus. He has, for example, publicly called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and in 1985 Robertson was involved in fund-raising to purchase weapons of Contra rebels in Nicaragua. He has described feminism as a "socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians." Days after the September 11, 2001 attacks on America, fellow evangelist Jerry Falwell was a guest on Robertson's 700 Club, and when Falwell said the attacks were triggered by "pagans, abortionists, feminists, gays, lesbians, the ACLU and the People for the American Way", Robertson agreed wholeheartedly. On the morning after a 2010 earthquake leveled much of Port-au-Prince and killed tens of thousands, Robertson announced that the disaster was God's payback for Haiti's "pact to the devil" in 1804, when that nation became independent of French rule.
Running for the Republican nomination for President in 1988, he advocated banning abortion and pornography, restoring prayer in public school, an end to secularism, denying civil rights to homosexuals, and eliminating the Departments of Energy and Education.
Among his many political causes, Robertson founded the Christian Coalition, a political action committee which came to prominence backing Republican candidates and conservative issues in the 1980s. The Christian Coalition printed and mailed Christian Coalition Family Values Voter Guides to churches, and used church membership directories as fodder for well-scripted "get-out-the-vote" telephone calls.
He started the American Center for Law and Justice, a law firm and education group that argues that separation of church and state is not in the Constitution. The ACLJ also argues First Amendment cases for Christians who feel they have been persecuted.
He founded Operation Blessing, a charity that was alleged to have allowed its planes and pilots to be used to shuttle gold-mining equipment around Zaire for another Robertson enterprise, African Development Company (ADC), a diamond-mining operation. Robertson was ADC's founder and sole stockholder, and he had a close working relationship with Zaire's brutal dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko. While Mobutu was embezzling $6-billion from his nation's coffers, Robertson established a huge farming operation outside Zaire's capitol city, and he was granted extensive lumber and mining permissions along the upper Zaire River. Robertson socialized with Mobutu on the dictator's yacht, and publicly referred to him as America's ally in the war on communism. The US State Department charged that Mobutu's regime had committed massive violations of human rights including torture, murder, censorship, and religious persecution.
Robertson's diamond business also involved Charles Taylor, the Liberian leader who seized power in a violent coup in 1996, and became president after an election, widely considered tainted, held the following year. Robertson refers to Taylor as a Christian, a good Baptist, and a friend. To the rest of the world, however, Taylor is a man indicted for war crimes, including much of the bloodshed and atrocities that have afflicted Liberia and its neighbor nations for years.
In 2001, ten black women who worked at the Christian Coalition sued over racial discrimination, complaining that they had been denied health benefits and overtime pay available to white workers. They alleged that they had been instructed to enter the group's offices only through the back door, to eat their lunches in a segregated area, and to avoid being seen in the office's VIP area. A white employee later joined the lawsuit, alleging that he was fired for refusing to spy on the black employees. In preliminary court hearings, the judge ruled that the employees had shown they were likely to prevail in the case, and after several of the plaintiffs had their work hours reduced, the judge issued an injunction ordering the coalition not to retaliate further. The case was subsequently settled out of court, on condition that details of the settlement remain secret.
In his first 700 Club of 2007, Robertson said God had told him that terrorists would attack major cities in the United States in 2007, resulting in the "mass killing" of possibly millions of people. "I'm not necessarily saying it's going to be nuclear," he explained. "The Lord didn't say nuclear. But I do believe it will be something like that."
Father: Absalom Willis Robertson (US Senator, b. 27-May-1887, d. 1-Nov-1971)
Mother: Gladys Churchill (b. 1897, d. 1968)
Brother: Absalom Willis Robertson, Jr. ("Tad", stockbroker, b. 7-Nov-1923, d. 20-Apr-2002)
Wife: Adelia Elmer Robertson ("Dede", m. 27-Aug-1954, two sons, two daughters)
Son: Timothy Bryan Robertson (television executive, b. 6-Nov-1954)
Daughter: Elizabeth Faith Robertson (b. 14-Aug-1956)
Son: Gordon Perry Robertson (lawyer-televangelist, b. 3-Jun-1958)
Daughter: Anne Carter Robertson (b. 24-Apr-1963)
High School: McCallie School, Chattanooga, TN (1946)
University: BA, Washington and Lee University (1950)
Law School: JD, Yale Law School (1955)
Theological: MA Divinity, New York Theological Seminary (1959)
Administrator: Founder, Regent University
American Center for Law & Justice
Council for National Policy President
Friends of George Allen
National Religious Broadcasters Board Member
Nicaraguan Freedom Fund
Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity
Phi Beta Kappa Society
WR Grace & Co. Financial Analyst
Open Heart Surgery (Jul-2000)
Prostate Surgery North Shore Medical Center, Miami, FL (17-Feb-2003)
Knee Replacement Rush University Medical Center (7-May-2007), partial
Open Heart Surgery FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital, Pinehurst, NC (19-Aug-2009)
Global Warming Skeptics
Risk Factors: Prostate Cancer, Homophobia, Glossolalia
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Waiting for Armageddon (28-Jan-2009) · Himself
Last Party 2000 (2-Nov-2001) · Himself
Rotten Library Page:
Author of books:
Shout It from the Housetops (1972, memoir)
The New World Order (1991, international affairs)
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