Pat Robertson, who intertwined GOP and religion, dies at 93
Pat Robertson, the conservative media giant who created an unprecedented link between evangelical Christianity and the Republican Party, has died at 93.
His death was announced via the Christian Broadcasting Network, the outlet Robertson founded. No cause was immediately given.
Born Marion Robertson in Lexington, Virginia, he became a born-again Christian in the 1950s. When Robertson moved to Hampton Roads in 1960, he bought a tiny bankrupt television station and began a career in religious broadcasting that spanned the rest of his life.
He turned that station into the Christian Broadcasting Network, a global media empire that made Robertson a massive figure in the evangelical movement.
Robertson intertwined the Republican Party with what became the religious right, reshaping American politics beginning in the 1970s. He himself unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for president in 1988.
Robertson’s impact on national politics can’t be overstated, says Old Dominion political science professor Jesse Richman.
“The fruits of that transformation are many and varied," Richman said. "Probably had that transformation that Robertson was part of not taken place -- had not brought about a shift of the Republican Party to a position of opposition to abortion -- probably Roe v. Wade would still be law.”
Robertson spread his brand of conservative Christianity on The 700 Club, the popular daily CBN program he hosted for more than 50 years.
He regularly stirred controversy by blaming terrorist attacks, mass shootings and natural disasters on moral failings, such as when he said Hurricane Katrina was God’s wrath for Americans' acceptance of abortion.
Robertson used CBN as the launchpad for other major undertakings, including founding Regent University, where he was chancellor until his death, and Operation Blessing, a charitable organization that distributes food and aid around the world.
Robertson is survived by 4 children, 14 grandchildren, and 24 great-grandchildren.