Pat Robertson and his Christian Broadcasting Network filed a report today that falsely claimed that having a “biblical view” on sexuality has been “criminalized” in San Antonio, Texas. Robertson said San Antonio “has gone off the rails” by adopting a non-discrimination ordinance [PDF] which includes protections for sexual orientation and gender identity, and claimed that the new law would lead to Christians being thrown in prison: “This means that if you speak out about your deeply held religious beliefs they will put you in jail or brand you some kind of a class 3 felon.”
“This whole thing is outrageous and that city council should be replaced,” Robertson charged.
The segment quoted Christian Right activists arguing that gay people are seeking “special rights” while taking away the rights to religious freedom and speech of Christians. CBN reporter Heather Sells even said the new policy “criminalizes those with a biblical view of sexuality.”
Erick Stakelbeck, the former sports reporter who fashions himself to be an expert on terrorism, regularly argues that progressives and Islamic extremists are working together to establish some sort of communist, Islamic state. While appearing on It’s Supernatural!, host Sid Roth said he couldn’t understand his assertion since the “political left is not going to be aligned with someone who wants to kill homosexuals.”
But as the Christian Broadcasting Network reporter explained, even though “the left would be the first ones with their heads on the chopping block if Islamic Sharia law came into power,” both liberals and radical Islamists “hate traditional America” and “hate the name of Yeshua (Jesus) so much that they will work together, at least in the short term, to chip away at traditional America and traditional western civilization.”
The 700 Club regularly features a segment where Pat Robertson and his co-host read prayer request letters they have received and then pray for their authors and call out visions of God healing certain ailments (or shelling out a cool million). All viewers have to do is “claim” their particular healing and their maladies will be gone. During today’s broadcast, a viewer named Clark asked Robertson to defend the practice, which is common among Word-Faith preachers and faith healers:
I watched your son [Gordon] and a woman on TV telling people that God was healing a certain condition that people in the audience were suffering from. Then they discussed cases where viewers had written in to say that they had been healed, thus apparently proving that they have the ability to get God to heal people during the show. Is that power only available to them during the show? If not, are they spending every waking moment healing people? If not, that is just plain wrong.
Robertson tried to laugh off the question and explained that when the 700 Club hosts are praying together they receive a “Word of knowledge” and “the Lord just shows us what he is doing at some point of time, not what we are doing, it is his do.”
He insisted that he is not a healer: “I do not believe in a resident gift to heal” — just in “gifts of healing.”
Then, the televangelist likened the whole shtick to Santa Claus passing out gifts.
“It’s plural ‘gifts of healing.’” Robertson said. “It’s like Santa Claus. He has a pack on his back and he has gifts and he’s passing these gifts out but they come from God.”
“The word of knowledge says we are merely reciting what God himself is doing, okay?”
This isn’t the first time Robertson has defended the practice. Last year, Robertson said that failed healings are not the result of the pastors (like Robertson) who conduct them but due to a lack of faith among people asking for a healing.
Two days following 9/11 terrorist attacks, televangelists Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell blamed the attacks on “the pagans, the abortions, the feminists and the gays and lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way.”
Today, Robertson remembered 9/11 by attacking former president George W. Bush for calling Islam a “religion of peace.”
“They believe that anybody who doesn’t submit is at war with them and they are prime targets, and for the Western nations to welcome this fifth column into their midst is just committing suicide,” Robertson claimed.
“The reason is they have lost their faith in God, they have lost their faith in Jesus Christ, they don’t believe in what the Bible says and the core values of our society have gone away,” Robertson continued. “We’ve done it here in America, we’ve abolished prayer in the schools, we’ve taken out Bible-reading in the schools and little by little by little we’ve eroded the rights—we keep talking about separation and this that and the other.”
Robertson made the remarks following a report by Dale Hurd which linked radical Islamic groups to liberals. “Muslims and the European left continue their strange political partnership; while they’re polar opposites when it comes to women’s rights, abortions and homosexuality, Muslims vote for the left while the left grows its constituency by encouraging Muslim immigration and the spread of Islamic values,” Hurd claimed. “America too has been knowingly trying to advance the cause of Muslim radicals in Syria and Egypt.”
Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network is already weighing legal action against two filmmakers over their documentary depicting the televangelist’s egregious misrepresentations of the activities of his charity, Operation Blessing.
An Operation Blessing spokesman toldThe Virginian-Pilot that they are “considering legal action” against Lara Zizic and David Turner, whose film “Mission Congo” will hold its premier at the Toronto International Film Festival, over the film’s supposed “false and defamatory” content.
CBN has a history of going after Robertson’s critics; for example, they recently embarked on an unsuccessful push to cover up a video of Robertson — first posted here on Right Wing Watch —arguing that gay men wear special rings that they use to infect random people they meet with HIV/AIDS.
Chris McGreal of The Guardianreports that the film depicts how Robertson diverted charitable activities to help mining projects that he owned and grossly exaggerated the work of Operation Blessing among Rwandan refugees.
The bulk of the thousands of doctors and nurses struggling to save lives – as about 40,000 people died of cholera – were volunteers for the international medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). The Bible readers were hired by the American televangelist and former religious right presidential candidate, Pat Robertson, and his aid organisation, Operation Blessing International.
But on Robertson's US television station, the Christian Broadcasting Network, that reality was reversed, as he raised millions of dollars from loyal followers by claiming Operation Blessing was at the forefront of the international response to the biggest refugee crisis of the decade. It's a claim he continues to make, even though an official investigation into Robertson's operation in Virginia accused him of "fraudulent and deceptive" claims when he was running an almost non-existent aid operation.
Mission Congo, by David Turner and Lara Zizic, opens at the Toronto film festival on Friday. It describes how claims about the scale of aid to Rwandan refugees were among a number of exaggerated or false assertions about the activities of Operation Blessing which pulls in hundreds of millions of dollars a year in donations, much of it through Robertson's televangelism. They include characterising a failed large-scale farming project as a huge success, and claims about providing schools and other infrastructure.
But some of the most damaging criticism of Robertson comes from former aid workers at Operation Blessing, who describe how mercy flights to save refugees were diverted hundreds of miles from the crisis to deliver equipment to a diamond mining concession run by the televangelist.
The documentary describes how dredges, used to suck up diamonds from river beds, were delivered hundreds of miles from the crisis in Goma to a private commercial firm, African Development Company, registered in Bermuda and wholly owned by Robertson. ADC held a mining concession near the town of Kamonia on the far side of the country.
The pilot said he joined Operation Blessing to help people. Of the 40 flights he flew into Congo, just two delivered aid. The others were associated with the diamond mining. "We're not doing anything for those people," he said. "After several months I was embarrassed to have Operation Blessing on the airplane's tail." He had the lettering removed.
Robertson's activities in Congo were initially exposed by a Virginia newspaper, the Virginian Pilot, in the 1990s. The investigation by Bill Sizemore prompted the attorney general in Virginia, where Operation Blessing is registered, to order a probe by the state's office of consumer affairs.
Its report concluded that Robertson made "fraudulent and deceptive" statements with claims to be ferrying doctors and medical aid to Goma when he was delivering diamond-mining equipment. It accused Operation Blessing of "misrepresenting" what its flights were doing, and of saying that the airstrip at Kamonia was part of the aid operation when it was "for the benefit of ADC's mining operation".
It also said Robertson had falsely portrayed the Dumi farm as hugely successful when it had already failed.
"Pat Robertson made material claims, via television appeals, regarding the relief efforts. These statements are refuted by the evidence in this case," the report said.
Robertson has been embroiled in mining controversies elsewhere in Africa. He supported the then president of Liberia, Charles Taylor, during that country's civil war without revealing at the time that he had an $8m investment in a Liberian gold mine. Taylor was already indicted by a UN war crimes tribunal at the time and was later convicted of crimes against humanity.
Full disclosure: The filmmakers conducted research in People For the American Way's archives.
Christian Broadcasting Network host Charlene Israel interviewed Dr. Linda Mintle yesterday about a Pennsylvania bill geared at preventing anti-LGBT discrimination, which Mintle warned would turn Christians into “bigots” by turning “issues of morality” into “civil rights issues.” “No one has tolerance for the view of the Christian who has a different approach,” Mintle lamented.
She even asserted that the bill would harm survivors of rape and sexual abuse.
That’s right, CBN is going out of its way to get rid of all evidence of comments made by CBN’s own founder, who even released a statement defending his assertions and insisted that he was once a target of a malicious gay AIDS ring plot. We have uploaded the video to Vimeo which you can watch here, unless CBN tries to take it down (UPDATE: Vimeo pulled the video, but you can now watch it on DailyMotion. UPDATE II: A third party [we wonder who!] complained to DailyMotion and pulled the video, which you can find, for now, at Flickr.com):
This isn’t the first time that CBN has manipulated comments Robertson has made on the channel’s flagship show, The 700 Club. Last year, the network unsuccessfully attempted to edit out Robertson’s call for a man to move to Saudi Arabia in order to beat his wife.
As Steve Benen notes, “Robertson really shouldn’t say things on national television if he doesn’t want people to see them.”
While Robertson’s gay AIDS ring conspiracy theory is outrageous and absurd, it is also ridiculous that the television network Robertson leads is now on a mission to suppress comments that Robertson himself believes are accurate and truthful.
UPDATE: Robertson's CBN yanked our video off YouTube, but you can still watch it here on Daily Motion. It was also taken down by Vimeo:
UPDATE II: A third party (we wonder who!) flagged the Dailymotion video for "infringing upon [their] intellectual property rights." It is now available on Flickr.com.
UPDATE III: YouTube has restored the video in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Today on the 700 Club, Pat Robertson told co-host Terry Meeuwsen that gay men in cities like San Francisco attempt to spread HIV/AIDS to others by cutting them with a special ring when shaking hands. However, one could not hear Robertson make the remarks on the episode his Christian Broadcasting Network posted online, as the company once again appears to have edited Robertson’s comments after they aired.
While responding to a question from a woman who wondered if it was wrong for the church not to inform her that a man she was driving to worship services is “dying of AIDS,” Robertson admitted that he “used to think it was transmitted by saliva and other things, now they say it may be sexual contact.”
“What to say if you’re driving an elderly man whose got AIDS? Don’t have sex with them,” Robertson said, “unless there’s a cut or some bodily fluid transmission, I think you’re not going to catch it.”
But Robertson didn’t stop there.
“There are laws now, I think the homosexual community has put these draconian laws on the books that prohibit people from discussing this particular affliction, you can tell somebody you had a heart attack, you can tell them they’ve got high blood pressure, but you can’t tell anybody you’ve got AIDS,” he continued.
Despite Meeuwsen’s best attempts to steer the conversation away from Robertson’s anti-gay paranoia, Robertson insisted that gay people use special rings to transmit the virus.
“You know what they do in San Francisco, some in the gay community there they want to get people so if they got the stuff they’ll have a ring, you shake hands, and the ring’s got a little thing where you cut your finger,” Robertson said. “Really. It’s that kind of vicious stuff, which would be the equivalent of murder.”
At the 39:00 mark, you can see that CBN clearly edited out Robertson’s comments.
UPDATE: CBN has also removed the YouTube video of the exchange.
UPDATE II: Robertson issued a non-apology to The Atlantic, saying that he "regret[s] that my remarks had been misunderstood, but this often happens because people do not listen to the context of remarks which are being said."
Of course, unlike CBN, we provided the entire exchange:
I was asked by a viewer whether she had a right to leave her church because she had been asked to transport an elderly man who had AIDS and about whose condition she had not been informed. My advice was that the risk of contagion in those circumstances was quite low and that she should continue to attend the church and not worry about the incident.
In my own experience, our organization sponsored a meeting years ago in San Francisco where trained security officers warned me about shaking hands because, in those days, certain AIDS-infected activists were deliberately trying to infect people like me by virtue of rings which would cut fingers and transfer blood.
I regret that my remarks had been misunderstood, but this often happens because people do not listen to the context of remarks which are being said. In no wise [sic] were my remarks meant as an indictment of the homosexual community or, for that fact, to those infected with this dreadful disease.
Pat Robertson’s 700 Club today featured the story of Debra Gauthier, a Nevada police officer who “bought the lie” about homosexuality until she became a Christian and renounced her identity as a lesbian. Gauthier explained that she regretted her “choice” to be a lesbian because “there was a lot of inner turmoil going on, there was something about that that is not right, it’s not natural.”
Gauthier writes in her book, Bright Lights, Dark Places, that she became attracted to men after attending an Exodus International conference. Gauthier claims that while living “the homosexual lifestyle” she made a “covenant with Satan” during a same-sex wedding ceremony and also dated a “practicing witch,” until she “saw the demon in her” during an intimate moment:
Our ceremony was led by a gay male priest and a women priestess. We lit candles and performed cultic rituals, and I sensed the darkness around us. I had no idea that I had just entered into covenant with Satan and opened my life up to the demonic realm.
In my pursuit of spirituality, I became more aware of the demonic realm and began to struggle with fear. I found myself blinded by my own darkness as I opened my soul up more and more to Satan, who masquerades as an angel of light.
As I got deeper into spiritualism, a gift of discerning spirits was activated in me. At the time I was dating Diana, a practicing witch whom I had met at a New Age conference. Diana introduced me to demon worship and a new level of darkness. One evening as she began to seduce me, my spiritual eyes were opened, and I saw the demon in her sneering back at me. It horrified me! I jumped up, quickly got dressed, and ran out of there. This was the beginning of the blinders coming off my eyes and the exposure of the present dark kingdom of which I was very much a part.
This is, of course, far from the first ex-gay segment featured on the 700 Club.
Pat Robertson today, while discussing the shooting of an Australian baseball player in Oklahoma by three teenagers, two of them black and one white, accused President Obama of inciting anti-white violence. The 700 Club host said, “We are having a tremendous amount of this black-on-white violence and I have a feeling that instead of bringing racial harmony, having an African-American president has exacerbated the problem.”
“He seems to be wanting to bring division among people instead of bringing them together; he is one of the most divisive leaders this country has ever had,” Robertson continued. “It just seems he wants to rub the edges raw every chance he gets.” Robertson argued that Obama is trying to divide people by race and class: “There’s always something there to stir up controversy.”
Pat Robertson kicked off today’s edition of the 700 Club by interviewing Christian Broadcasting Network contributor Raymond Ibrahim, who spent most of the time rehashing a claim he said he heard from the Egyptian press that “Obama is in bed with the Muslim Brotherhood.”
“Everyone is convinced this is a conspiracy,” Ibrahim told Robertson, “you can’t help but wonder, of course it is, because why is the Obama administration so adamant about helping this organization?”
At one point in the interview, Ibrahim even suggested that the Muslim Brotherhood was behind the attack on the US compound in Benghazi and alleged that the US is trying to cover up its supposed knowledge of the group’s involvement by pushing for the release of Muslim Brotherhood officials from prison.
Later, Robertson said that it’s “appalling” and “shocking to think Obama may have made a deal with the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Robertson, who has previously warned that Obama has a Muslim “inclination” and might be a “crypto-Muslim,” lamented that “we’ve got a president, you wonder about where he is coming from.” He also warned the Obama administration is trying to aid the Muslim Brotherhood’s drive “to establish an Islamic super-state.”
Today, the 700 Club finally featured a segment with additional footage from the summit. CBN’s David Brody interviewed chief organizer David Lane, who has predicted divine punishment on America in the form of car bombings, along with billionaire brothers Dan and Farris Wilks, the latter of whom told Brody that he is upset about the rise of the “gay agenda.”
Brody also showed footage of right-wing pseudo-historian David Barton praying over Cruz and conservative pastor Laurence White telling activists that they can sway politicians if they “change the direction of the wind.”
It was just another day on the 700 Club, as a viewer asked Pat Robertson what to do about his seemingly haunted house: “My house is haunted. There is moaning coming from the walls, lights turn on and off, the TV changes channels on its own, the beds move, stuff floats off tables, mirrors break, and there is sometimes a creepy fog. The ghosts look like people, but have dark blue light around their feet and hands. What do I do?”
Robertson joked that “if it was me I’d burn the house down and move on,” but “assuming you can’t afford that,” he advised the viewer to get an exorcism.
After explaining that he doesn’t believe in ghosts, Robertson said that the house is likely haunted by “demonic forces and you need to get people to come and do an exorcism over that property and command those demons to leave, that’s what you do…. If you can’t do that, move.”
Following CBN reporter Paul Strand’s heavily slanted report where he claimed that gay rights may be “biggest threat to religious liberty in all of America’s history,” Pat Robertson went on to argue that the gay community is on a mission to “destroy the church if need be, then to destroy the military if need be, then to destroy marriage if need be, then to destroy businesses if they need be.” He said that the gay rights advocates won’t stop until “the way they perform sex acts is acceptable” in society and turn America into Ancient Rome, “where sexual morality had gone out the window.”
He asked: “If there are 100 million Christians in America, maximum two percent of the population are homosexual and one percent are lesbian, is that minority going to destroy all of the foundations of the morality of the majority?”
Robertson said that Christians may soon be imprisoned over their “loving” anti-gay stance.
“If you see somebody who is not going to go to Heaven and you really love him you want to do what it takes to get him into Heaven, if you don’t care about him you let him go to Hell,” Robertson continued. “We are a people who love and yet now your love is going to put you in jail because the people who are going to Hell feel their lifestyle—think, ‘well, we want to be affirmed.’”
On the 700 Club today, Pat Robertson followed a segment mocking “climatism” with an interview with Steve Goreham of the climate change denying Heartland Institute. Goreham is not a climate scientist (his degree is in electrical engineering) and the Heartland Institute regularly pushesmisinformation about climate change.
Robertson, a climate change denier who has without a hint of irony criticized climate scientists as “nutty” and “fanatics,” unsurprisingly ate up Goreham’s claims that humans play no role in climate change and that higher CO2 levels help the environment.
“Warmer periods have actually been better for civilizations,” Goreham argued. “We have less extreme weather, we have longer growing seasons and we have more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now, which is actually greening the planet.” “That’s good!” Robertson replied.
Goreham lamented that SUV owners and power company officials may be treated like witches who were burnt at the stake in the Middle Ages: “There were many people in the Middle Ages that were blamed for causing the cold temperatures and the poor crops and they labeled them witches, they burned them. And so today we blame it on our neighbor’s SUV or a power plant, it’s a little bit of a medieval thing.”
“Let’s hope we don’t burn the officials of VEPCO,” Robertson joked, referring to the Virginia Electric and Power Company.
Later, Goreham said that people in New York, San Francisco and Bangladesh should be “rejoicing” about warming as “all the climate models are wrong.”
Pat Robertson has issued yetanotherwarning against Middle East peace negotiations, this time predicting natural disasters in the US over the country’s role in mediating talks between the Israelis and Palestinians. The televangelist, who called former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s stroke divine retribution for “dividing God’s land,” told 700 Club viewers today that “from a prophetic stands point, every time the United States gets involved in some kind of a pressure on Israel to split their land there’s some natural disaster that happens here in America.”
“There was a very cogent book written about that, just traced one after the other, of traced disasters that come on America,” Robertson continued. “If the United States pressures Israel to try to give up half of Jerusalem, God himself is going to come against this nation. Watch it.”
In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody on Friday, Ted Cruz rehashed the false right-wing claims that gay rights advocates intend to pass hate speech laws and force pastors to perform same-sex nuptials. Leading Religious Right activists made the same arguments during their campaign against the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act and in debates over state marriage equality bills. Of course, such laws would be unconstitutional and have never been used to silence religious leaders or limit the freedom of speech.
If you look at other nations that have gone down the road towards gay marriage, that’s the next step of where it gets enforced. It gets enforced against Christian pastors who decline to perform gay marriages, who speak out and preach biblical truths on marriage, that has been defined elsewhere as hate speech, as inconsistent with the enlightened view of government. I think there is no doubt that the advocates who are driving this effort in the United States want to see us end up in that same place.
Brody also lobbed another hardball at Cruz, asking him if he believes “spiritual revival is needed in this country.”
“Everywhere I go people are afraid for the future of our country; I think we’re at the edge of a precipice,” Cruz said. “If we keep going down this path, we’re risking losing our nation; we’re risking losing the incredible oasis of liberty.”
Following their 2012 election debacle, the Republican National Committee and the College Republicans issued reports which urged the party to go through an image makeover without adjusting its political stances. Essentially, they argued, the party should only appear to be changing and becoming more open-minded, empathetic and welcoming.
Speaking with David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network posted today, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus confirmed that the party will try to reach out to groups like gays and lesbians by simply appearing to be more respectful without actually changing its views on issues such as marriage equality.
After Brody said conservative evangelical voters are nervous that the GOP thinks “we have to be more tolerant,” Priebus said there is nothing to worry about. “I don’t know if I’ve used the word ‘tolerance,’ I don’t really care for that word myself. I don’t have a problem with it, I just think it has another meaning politically that can go the other direction,” the party chairman said.
“It’s not what you say, I think, it’s sometimes – like our moms used to tell us – it’s how you say it. And I think that’s really the issue. And quite frankly, I think some of that has been overblown.”
Priebus assured Brody that the GOP will continue to represent “things that are very square with our beliefs as Christians” and recognize that “there’s only one sovereign God.”
Brody: I want to talk to you about this way forward for the GOP. When you use that word ‘intolerant,’ ‘you know we have to be more tolerant’ in what the RNC put out. Evangelicals start to grab the Excedrin bottles when they hear ‘tolerance’ because they think ‘oh no the GOP is changing and the whole gay marriage situation.’ Why don’t you address this and maybe put evangelicals at ease or can you put them at ease at all here?
Priebus: Well, one hundred percent. I don’t know if I’ve used the word ‘tolerance,’ I don’t really care for that word myself. I don’t have a problem with it, I just think it has another meaning politically that can go the other direction. I happen to believe that our principles are sound. I do believe, and I still will tell you that our party believes that marriage is between one man and one woman. Our party believes that life begins at conception. I think those are foundational issues that aren’t going anywhere but what I have said, which I don’t think should be controversial at all and I would think that Christians and pastors and everyone in between should agree that our principles have to be draped in the concepts of grace, love and respect and that’s not code language, that’s the New Testament, so I don’t think there should be any problem with that thinking within our party. That’s all I’ve said. It’s not what you say, I think, it’s sometimes like our moms used to tell us, it’s how you say it; and I think that’s really the issue and quite frankly I think some of that has been overblown. I’m happy to address it but clearly myself and our party haven’t changed on those principles.
Priebus: Looking at the evidence, what you will see is a party that embraces life, a party that embraces marriage and a chairman that understands that there’s only one sovereign God and that we ultimately aren’t dependent on what happens in politics, that that ultimately matters in our lives is that we’re salt and light in the world and that we’re honoring God in the things that we do every day. I get that. I think our party gets that and there’s never been a movement away from that. So ‘tolerance,’ maybe some people use that word, what I would tell you, when I think about it, I think about grace, I think about love, I think about respect, and I think those are things that are very square with our beliefs as Christians.