Those who have followed my columns for any length of time will know that I have written on numerous occasions that Pat Robertson has become an embarrassment to himself, his television viewers, the Republican Party and to Christianity itself. It was not always so.
After Robertson lost the GOP presidential nomination in 1988, he hired Ralph Reed to start the Christian Coalition. By the 1990s, the organization had become one of the most influential groups in conservative circles. It helped to bring about the Republican Revolution in 1994, giving control of both the House and the Senate to the GOP for the first time in forty years, and it was instrumental in solidifying that control in 1996.
However, by the turn of the Millennium, the Christian Coalition's clout had waned. Reed, who had become the face of the organization, had left to start his own political consulting firm, and Robertson himself was beginning to make some bizarre statements and decisions that quickened the demise of his once-powerful group.
In 2001, I was highly critical of Robertson for a statement he made concerning the Chinese government's one-child policy, which mandates forced abortion and/or leads directly to the murder of many female babies.
"They've got 1.2 billion people, and they don't know what to do," Robertson said. "If every family over there was allowed to have three or four children, the population would be completely unsustainable…So, I think that right now they're doing what they have to do. I don't agree with the forced abortion, but I don't think the United States needs to interfere with what they're doing internally in this regard."
As it turned out, Robertson, already a longtime multimillionaire by then, had substantial investments in China and apparently wanted to avoid offending its communist leaders. (Ironically, a decade later, Joe Biden said pretty much the same thing for the same reason.)
Then, in the wake of 9/11, instead of laying the blame for the attacks at the feet of the terrorists where it belonged, Robertson seemed to blame America's tolerance of abortion and homosexuality, thus forever placing himself (at least in the minds of many Americans who lost loved ones that day) into the company of Fred Phelps and his merry band of Kansas nut jobs, whose Westboro cult harasses the next of kin at the funerals of fallen soldiers.
Skip forward a few years and the 2008 presidential election season found Pat endorsing none other than the morally bankrupt, pro-abortion Rudy Giuliani for president of these United States. He may have been America's mayor on 9/11, but Giuliani left a lot to be desired among the Christians for whom Pat Robertson purports to speak.
And now the Right Reverend Robertson has endorsed the idea of divorcing a spouse suffering from Alzheimer's disease. That's right. A recent caller to the 700 Club told Robertson that he felt guilty about seeing another woman while his wife was still alive. He wanted guidance about divorcing her. Robertson's dodge of those pesky "in sickness and in health" and "till death do us part" sections of the man's wedding vows was to rationalize that Alzheimer's "really is a form of death."
As a devout believer in the redeeming power of the living Lord Jesus Christ, I find that to be as repugnant and obtuse as any statement this man has ever made — and he obviously has made some big ones! Have we so dumbed down our theological understanding that "natural death" is no longer the criteria for letting go of a beloved spouse? Have we, as Christian men, become so shallow that our own "happiness" reigns supreme over remaining loyal to the mother of our children? What's next? Will Pat tell his audience that it was okay that Terry Schaivo was starved to death by her husband because he was "unhappy"?
I used to call for Pat Robertson to retire as soon as possible. I now believe that he should surrender his credentials as a minister of the Gospel — and then retire as soon as possible.
© 2011 by Doug Patton
Doug Patton describes himself as a recovering political speechwriter who agrees with himself much more often than not. Now working as a freelance writer, his weekly columns of sage political analysis are published the world over by legions of discerning bloggers, courageous webmasters and open-minded newspaper editors.