Pat Robertson, longtime television host, evangelical communicator, educator, and one-time presidential candidate, died at his Virginia Beach home early Thursday morning. He was 93 years old.
Perhaps best known for his prayers and political commentary on The 700 Club, the flagship program of his media ministry, Robertson’s rise to fame is rooted in what he called a vision from God to create the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), which he founded in 1960. Prolific innovator, too founded a Christian university (Regent University), a legal advocacy group, and an international NGO specialized in disaster relief (Operation Blessing).
Although he promoted a worldview that believed in the inerrancy of the Bible, both his approach to business and his on-air persona were considered by some to be unorthodox, if not ahead of his time. Today, his influence and legacy span interests and industries that have broken barriers for countless Christian and lay leaders.
Born Marion Gordon Robertson in Lexington, Virginia, on March 22, 1930, she was nicknamed “Pat” by her older brother. Keeping that nickname in place of his birth name was just the first of many conventions he would challenge throughout his life.
Robertson, a Yale-educated lawyer and the son of a US senator, hoped to become a successful businessman. In his 1972 autobiography, Shout It From the Housetops, he wrote about his dream of living the life of New York high society. But His path took a very different turn in the 1950s, when he became a born-again Christian.
“Deep in my heart, I heard God speak to me about the television ministry: ‘Go and take possession of the station. It’s yours'”.
Robertson abandoned his own dream and accepted what he considered God’s plan: start a ministry in Christian broadcasting. But his launch as a religious communicator came with challenges, starting with little capital and a dilapidated TV station for sale in Portsmouth, Virginia.
“He had no money and he decided the Lord wanted him to have that station,” recalls Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California. “After all, Pat got it for free. That means that he not only had faith, but he was also a good negotiator.
In 1960, after moving his wife and children to Virginia, he created what would become The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) with no more than $70 to his name and a company bank account with a measly $3 initial deposit. .
Those humble Beginnings, Based on a vision and seeds of faith, they eventually became a global media ministry that would reach hundreds of millions of people on six of the seven continents.
In 1966, Robertson began hosting a daily talk show, The 700 Club. Still on the air, it is one of the longest running shows in television history.
From the set of Club 700 he transformed Christian television. But its scope went far beyond spirituality.
In the 1970s, Robertson – who once described himself as a “journalist” at heart – had secured interviews with military and political leaders like the late Isaac Rabin, Prime Minister of Israel, and Jimmy Carter, who was then Governor of Georgia and would win the White House with the support of evangelical Christians.
four years later, Robertson was part of the conservative leadership that helped propel Ronald Reagan to the White House in 1980..
In 1988, Robertson ran for president himself, shocking the political world with his second-place finish in the Iowa primary.
“He broke the stained glass window,” reflected Bishop TD Jakes, pastor of the Dallas Potter’s House. “People of faith were taken seriously beyond the church and into the White House.”
Although Losing the 1988 Republican nomination to George HW Bush, Robertson’s candidacy changed the face of American politics.
“When you think about Pat Robertson, I think one of the biggest lessons you learn is if you have a dream, go after it. Even if you fall short,” continued Bishop Jakes.
He expanded his political influence by incorporating thousands of evangelicals into the electoral process through the founding of the Christian Coalition. He also created the American Center for Law and Justice with a mandate to protect religious liberties.
Returning to CBN after the campaign failed, Robertson took the company global, dramatically expanding the reach of the ministry’s Christian programming to more than 150 countries in more than 100 languages through satellite technology.
His political participation, however, was also marked by the Exposure of opinions that generated controversy on issues of international politics, law or other current affairs.
“Pat Robertson single-handedly transformed the world of broadcast journalism,” said Sam Rodríguez, a US-based Hispanic evangelical leader.
“Pat was first and foremost an evangelist. His desire and his commitment to share the gospel of Jesus, with everyone without exception, makes Pat Robertson a Christian leader who, without a doubt, changed the world, ”says Rodríguez.
Robertson has been remembered on social networks by different political and social figures in the United States from the conservative and republican spheres.
Robertson’s wife of 67 years, Dede, died in 2022. He is survived by two sons, two daughters, 14 grandchildren, and 23 great-grandchildren. His son, Gordon Robertson, is CEO of CBN and host and executive producer of The 700 Club.