Pat Robertson Is Dead at 93

Religious broadcaster also made his mark on modern politics
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 8, 2023 7:41 AM CDT
Pat Robertson Is Dead at 93
Pat Robertson in 1987.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber, file)

Pat Robertson, a religious broadcaster who turned a tiny Virginia station into the global Christian Broadcasting Network, tried a run for president, and helped make religion central to Republican Party politics in America through his Christian Coalition, has died. He was 93. Robertson's death Thursday was announced by his broadcasting network, per the AP. No cause was given. For more than a half-century, Robertson was a familiar presence in American living rooms, known for his 700 Club television show, and in later years, his televised pronouncements of God’s judgment on America for everything from homosexuality to the teaching of evolution.

The money poured in as he solicited donations, his influence soared, and when he moved directly into politics by seeking the GOP presidential nomination in 1988, he brought a huge following with him. Robertson pioneered a now-common strategy of courting Iowa’s network of evangelical Christian churches, and finished in second place in the Iowa caucuses, ahead of Vice President George HW Bush. Robertson later endorsed Bush, who won the presidency. Pursuit of Iowa’s evangelicals is now a ritual for Republican hopefuls, including those currently seeking the White House in 2024.

Marion Gordon “Pat” Robertson was born March 22, 1930, in Lexington, Virginia, to Absalom Willis Robertson and Gladys Churchill Robertson. His father served for 36 years as a US representative and US senator from Virginia. After graduating from Washington and Lee University, the younger Robertson served as assistant adjutant of the 1st Marine Division in Korea. He received a law degree from Yale University Law School, but failed the bar exam and chose not to pursue a law career. Robertson received a master’s in divinity from New York Theological Seminary in 1959, then drove south with his family to buy a bankrupt UHF television station in Portsmouth, Va. He said he had just $70 in his pocket, but soon found investors, and CBN went on the air on Oct. 1, 1961.

story continues below

One of Robertson’s innovations was to use the secular talk-show format on the network’s flagship show, the 700 Club, which grew out of a telethon when Robertson asked 700 viewers for monthly $10 contributions. It was more suited to television than traditional revival meetings or church services, and gained a huge audience. At times, his on-air pronouncements drew criticism. He claimed that the terrorist attacks that killed thousands of Americans on Sept. 11, 2001, were caused by God, angered by the federal courts, pornography, abortion rights, and church-state separation. Talking again about 9-11 on his TV show a year later, Robertson described Islam as a violent religion that wants to “dominate” and “destroy,” prompting President George W. Bush to distance himself and say Islam is a peaceful and respectful religion.

(More Pat Robertson stories.)

Get breaking news in your inbox.
What you need to know, as soon as we know it.
Sign up
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.