June 8, 2023: Pat Robertson gained fame through his long-standing talk show, The 700 Club, where he provided guidance on domestic politics and international affairs to conservative Christians. However, he was also known for making controversial anti-gay remarks. He played a crucial role in the rise of the religious right and significantly impacted Republican politicians. For a brief period, he even ran for president himself.
Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), which Robertson founded, announced his passing on June 8. Robertson, the son of a prominent U.S. senator, began as an ordained pastor and went on to establish CBN in 1960. He managed to fund the network through telethons, which eventually expanded globally. In the late 1970s, Robertson founded Regent University in Virginia Beach. In 1988, he bid for the Republican presidential nomination, positioning himself as a socially and fiscally conservative candidate.
Although his presidential campaign was unsuccessful, it boosted Robertson’s reputation among politically active white evangelicals. In 1989, he founded the Christian Coalition to mobilize these voters. Around the same time, the Moral Majority, led by Jerry Falwell, was dissolving. Falwell’s son, Jerry Falwell Jr., acknowledged Robertson’s influence in bringing together the voting power of the Christian right.
Critics of Robertson, like Terry Heaton, a former TV producer for The 700 Club, recognize his ability to attract a following. Heaton, who eventually became the show’s executive producer, highlighted Robertson’s strategic brilliance and how he shaped the playbook followed by many conservative media figures.
Robertson’s influence reached the White House, where he interviewed presidents, including Ronald Reagan. In later years, he supported Donald Trump and drew controversy for comments that were seen as anti-gay and racially insensitive. Despite criticism, his son Gordon Robertson defended him, attributing the negative perception to politically motivated attacks from left-leaning websites. He emphasized that his father had accomplished incredible things throughout his life.
Until his passing, Robertson continued to host The 700 Club, leaving behind a legacy that is celebrated and debated within conservative Christianity.