News (USA)

Televangelist Pat Robertson has died but his anti-LGBTQ+ legacy will live on

Televangelist Pat Robertson
Televangelist Pat Robertson Photo: Screenshot

Televangelist Pat Robertson, known as one of the nation’s most vicious anti-LGBTQ+ Christian leaders, has died at the age of 93.

“Pat Robertson, longtime TV host, religious broadcaster, educator, humanitarian, and one-time presidential candidate, died at his home in Virginia Beach early Thursday morning. He was 93,” a Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) press release said.

Born Marion Gordon Robertson, the extremist talk show host is known as the founder of the massively influential CBN, which launched in 1960 and still exists today. He also hosted his own show, The 700 Club, from 1966 to 2021. His son, Gordon, has since taken over.

Throughout his time on the show, Robertson became known for his hellfire and brimstone brand of religion – and his outrageous claims about LGBTQ+ people that normally involved blaming the community as the cause of a natural disaster.

In 2013, he claimed gay men have rings that cut people’s fingers when they shake hands so that they can transmit HIV to unsuspecting victims.

In 2020, he told viewers that if the Equality Act passes, “a righteous God will do to us what he did to Sodom and Gomorrah.”

He has also blamed the coronavirus on same-sex marriage and claimed there will be “atomic war” if Christians can’t discriminate against LGBTQ+ people.

In 2018, he said that drag queen story hours mean that humanity is “trying to… stick our fingers in God’s eyes.”

Robertson’s words may have been bizarre, but their influence was enormous. CBN reaches over one hundred countries, and, according to a 2017 article from Vox, The 700 Club reaches about a million people per day.

The 700 Club has been credited with revolutionizing evangelical broadcasting. Robertson communicated evangelical propaganda through casual, comfortable, and accessible conversation rather than through passionate sermons.

“Here’s a well-educated person having sophisticated conversations with a wide variety of guests on a wide variety of topics,” John C. Green, emeritus political science professor at the University of Akron, told the AP. “It was with a religious inflection to be sure. But it was an approach that took up everyday concerns.”

Robertson used this format to push not only a religious ideology but a political ideology as well. Through his teachings, he played a large role in solidifying the link between evangelicalism and Republican politics.

“He was able to blend Republican Party politics and conservative politics with the Bible, and in so doing he presented a consistent message that if you were for Jesus, then you were for the Republican Party,” Terry Heaton, a former 700 Club executive, told Salon.

In fact, Heaton said, one can draw a straight line from Robertson’s 1988 presidential run and his teachings on The 700 Club to the election of Donald Trump in 2016.

Robertson’s presidential campaign galvanized an even larger base of evangelical Christians, created a stronger link between the group and the Republican party, and helped create the white and Christian nationalist ideology that permeates society today.

In perhaps one of his most calculating business moves, Robertson made his ideology even more accessible to mainstream viewers.

As The 700 Club grew in popularity, Robertson changed the name of one facet of CBN to the Family Channel in 1998. He then sold it to News Corporation, where it became Fox Family. Eventually, Disney bought the channel, and it became known as Freeform, which is what it’s still called today.

But as part of Robertson’s original sales contract, he required that The 700 Club remain part of the channel’s daily programming. Thus, families turning to Freeform to watch shows like Grown-ish and The Fosters may also find Robertson preaching that LGBTQ+ people are destroying the planet.

Freeform also became known for airing sassy disclaimers before playing The 700 Club, such as “The people at Freeform would like you to know we did not make this next program. We haven’t even seen it.”

An avid Trump supporter, Robertson steadfastly stayed in Trump’s corner for weeks after he lost the 2020 presidential election, repeating unfounded claims of voter fraud being pushed by Republicans on his show. Eventually, though, he did give up on Trump and even said he didn’t believe he should run in 2024.

Robertson may be gone, but his legacy lives on. Through his children, his followers, and his network, he created a culture of hate that will unfortunately last well beyond his existence.

Don't forget to share:

Support vital LGBTQ+ journalism

Reader contributions help keep LGBTQ Nation free, so that queer people get the news they need, with stories that mainstream media often leaves out. Can you contribute today?

Cancel anytime · Proudly LGBTQ+ owned and operated

Christian anti-trans influencer busted paying for femboy adult content

Previous article

Mike Pence left stammering when CNN host points out his hypocrisy on trans youth

Next article