Question: "Who was Pat Robertson?"

Answer: Marion Gordon “Pat” Robertson (1930—2023) was a Christian broadcasting pioneer, best-selling author, minister, educator, political commentator, businessman, and philanthropist. He founded numerous organizations, including the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), the Christian Coalition, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), and Operation Blessing. Pat’s signature program was The 700 Club, a Christian news, ministry, and entertainment talk show that has sustained one of the longest runs in television history. Pat Robertson died on June 8, 2023, at his home in Virginia, at age 93.

The careers of Robertson’s dad and grandfathers inspired his own path. His father, Absalom Willis Robertson, was a lawyer and conservative Democrat who served in elected office in both state and national levels. Robertson’s granddads were both Baptist ministers. Pat’s mother, Gladys, whose ancestry included two Presidents and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, also helped instill Pat’s faith in God and his sense of responsibility to his family lineage.

Pat studied at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, earning a bachelor’s in history and graduating magna cum laude in 1950. He then joined the Marines and served as the assistant adjutant of the First Marine Division in Korea. Two years later, when he returned to the States, Robertson attended Yale Law School and received his Juris Doctor in 1955. After failing to pass the New York bar, Pat grappled with questions about his life, career, and faith. It was during this period of personal struggle and sowing “some wild oats” (, accessed 6/13/23) that he accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He was newly married to Adelia (“Dede”) Elmer. The two remained married for 67 years until Dede’s death in 2022. The couple raised four children together: Timothy, Elizabeth, Gordon, and Ann.

After his salvation, Robertson felt God calling him into the ministry. In 1959, he earned his Master of Divinity from New York Theological Seminary and was ordained in the Southern Baptist denomination in 1961. However, when his first child, Timothy, fell gravely ill with a high fever, Robertson said he experienced the spiritual gift of praying in tongues. After that, he professed to be a charismatic Christian.

In 1960, Robertson moved his family from New York City to Portsmouth, Virginia, to begin the country’s first Christian television station, which would soon become the Christian Broadcasting Network. Today CBN is a global media organization that provides news coverage, evangelism outreach, prayer centers, and humanitarian aid in 165 countries and territories around the world.

The centerpiece of CBN has long been Robertson’s talk show, The 700 Club, which began when the televangelist asked 700 viewers to support the program by giving $10 a month. Throughout its nearly six decades on the air, the show, initially hosted by Jim Bakker, has featured co-hosts such as Ben Kinchlow, Sheila Walsh, Terry Meeuwsen, and Wendy Griffith. Guests of CBN and The 700 Club have included political pundits and leaders from both parties, former Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and Donald Trump, and distinguished journalists, athletes, and celebrities. In October 2021, Robertson retired from hosting the show, passing the reins to his son Gordon Robertson, who also now heads CBN and Operation Blessing.

In 1978, Robertson established CBN University in Virginia Beach. The goal was to train “Christian leadership to change the world” (, accessed 6/14/23). The college was renamed Regent University in 1990.

Robertson also formed Operation Blessing in 1978 to provide hunger relief, clean water, medical aid, and disaster assistance to needy individuals in the United States. By the 1990s, the mission had expanded into a worldwide humanitarian outreach.

In the 1980s, Robertson became increasingly immersed in politics, speaking out against abortion and supporting conservative issues such as school prayer. He decided to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 1988 but withdrew from the race before the primaries.

Another venture of Robertson’s was launching the Christian Coalition (1987), a grassroots organization that mobilizes Christian voters. In 1990, Robertson set up the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a non-profit legal and educational group that advocates for the rights of people of faith.

Robertson wrote a couple dozen books in his lifetime, including best-sellers The Secret Kingdom, Answers to 100 of Life’s Most Probing Questions, and The New World Order. His national and international awards have earned Robertson recognition as “one of the most influential U.S. voices in religion and conservative politics” (, accessed 6/14/23) and “the most influential figure in American politics in the last decade” (ibid., accessed 6/14/23).

Pat Robertson’s life was not without controversy. His comments about homosexuals and feminists have been harsh (, accessed 6/14/23). Several times, in his remarks on The 700 Club, Robertson made questionable statements. In September 2011 he advised a man whose wife to divorce his wife because she had Alzheimer’s. In January 2006 he suggested that the stroke suffered by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was God’s punishment for withdrawing from the Gaza Strip (, accessed 6/14/23). And there are false prophecies, as well, including one from October 2020, in which Robertson claimed that God told him, “Without question, Trump is going to win the election” (, accessed 6/14/23).

Some notable quotes from Pat Robertson are below:

“The founding document of the United States of America acknowledges the Lordship of Jesus Christ because we are a Christian nation” (The Collected Works of Pat Robertson, Bristol Park Books, 1994).

“When any civil government steps outside the mandate authorized by God Almighty, then that government does not have any further claim over its citizens” (Answers to 200 of Life’s Most Probing Questions, Thomas Nelson Inc, 1984).

“The Constitution of the United States, for instance, is a marvelous document for self-government by the Christian people. But the minute you turn the document into the hands of non-Christian people and atheistic people they can use it to destroy the very foundation of our society. And that's what's been happening” (The 700 Club, 12/30/1981).