Thursday, August 29, 2013

please, please, please do not support Pat Robertson, CBN, or The 700 Club

A year ago, I wrote a passionate post here titled "an open letter to Pat Robertson, from the adoptive mother of a child with brain damage," written as a response to Robertson's statements about adoption the day before on The 700 Club. These comments included "you don't know what problems" there will be when you adopt and a story of a family you know who adopted a "child [who] had brain damage, you know, grew up weird."

see that child with brain damage laughing with her sister at the beach?
Weird? Maybe. But loved by a family while loving her family in return? Definitely.

Two years ago, I wrote a post titled "Pat Robertson's view of Alzheimer's and divorce: Not just wrong but dangerous" on my special needs ministry blog. That post was my response to his on-air statements that a man could divorce his wife because Alzheimer's disease made it so she was "not there" anymore.

Neither of us have Alzheimer's, but I have some chronic diseases I didn't have when we married.
Would that be grounds for divorce by Robertson's reasoning?

Three years ago, the Christian Alliance for Orphans blogged about when Mr. Robertson said on the air, " “It [adoption] can be a blessing, if you get the right child.”

We're not counting on these three being the right children.
We expect them to be kids.
We're the responsible party as parents.

I don't watch The 700 Club - nor should you, unless you want to support this sort of thing - so I'm not sure if he derails in hurtful and dangerous ways more than once a year. After my examples above from one, two, and three years ago, it was time for 2013's indiscretion, which came a few days ago:
“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. Really. It’s that kind of vicious stuff, which would be the equivalent of murder.”
You can read more about it here.

Even if those gay HIV+ boogeymen existed, the facts of HIV transmission would render their attacks useless. For starters, those boogeymen would have to cease taking life-saving drugs so that their viral loads of HIV would increase enough for likely transmission. Then, the boogeymen would have to be actively bleeding from an open wound that would directly flow into the cuts made by the rings, because HIV is wimpy and can't survive outside of the body. After that, the boogeymen would need to prevent their victims from accessing the prophylactic meds that can be administered after HIV exposure to avoid infection.

But you know those wacky gays, right? They'll do anything to get us.
(Please note my sarcasm above!)

I'm past open letters at this point. I don't see remorse or repentance. I don't see any desire for wisdom or efforts toward education or enlightenment. In the absence of those things, I cannot support Mr. Robertson in any way. He is the founder and chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network and the host of The 700 Club, so I can't support those either.

To be honest, I haven't supported either for quite some time. So what's the difference now? Now, I'm convicted enough of the damages rendered by such unChristlike statements from a very public professing Christian that I must speak up. Personal views aren't enough for me anymore. A public stance is necessary.

Please, please, please do not support Pat Robertson, CBN, or The 700 Club.

If no one listened to him, then Pat Robertson wouldn't be on the air anymore. But he is. That's why I'm asking this of you.

Too much harm is being done to people I love: children waiting for families because people listen to Pat's warnings about damaged kids, husbands who desert their wives when disease strikes because Pat said it was okay, and people who fear those with HIV because of misinformation about rogue infected criminals.

This is personal. I'm a wife who could be left using Pat's reasoning - that is, if I wasn't married to a godly man who would never heed such nonsense. My daughter from Taiwan was one of the brain-damaged orphans he warned against adopting. One of the three siblings we're currently adopting from Uganda has HIV.

I'll say it again: for me, this is personal.

So, please. Please. If you're one of the folks still tuning in to CBN and The 700 Club, please stop.

I won't have to write another post like this in 2014 if no one is listening to or supporting the harmful utterances. And that? That would be wonderful.

Update: Sadly, it's 2014, about a year later... and Robertson is warning viewers about the AIDS towels they should avoid if they travel to Kenya. If I could link to The 700 Club instead of Huffington Post, I would, but CBN's response to expressed concerns about their chairman's gaffes is simply to remove controversial episodes from their online archive. Sadly, trying to erase the internet record of his words isn't the same as the accountability and repentance needed here. 

30 comments:

  1. that would be wonderful. thanks for being so open about all of this. you have a way of writing that's way better than what I could say. but I agree with you whole-heartedly. esp since we've gotten to watch sweet Zoe (for just a few minutes) on sunday mornings :)

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  2. I don't support them either. Thanks for being willing to put this out there in public.

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  3. I can't even. Such hate from that man.

    Rock on, Sister.

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    1. Praying for you today, that you'll be on a return flight to Ghana soon!

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    2. Thanks! Would love to swoop over to Uganda and pick up 3 babes for you, too.

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  4. Yes, Pat Robertson has made many mistakes and so have we all. The 700 club does amazing work around the world. It provides food, shelter and even supports families in impoverished nations with getting a job that can provide for them. To say to stop supporting a WHOLE ministry because of these statements is obsurd. Not to forget to mention many people have amazing healing stories from this ministry which encourage non believers in their faith. We are called to forgive 70x7, not throw a brother under a bus whether he is right or wrong. If he is to be removed from TV, than let God do it. He is a brother in Christ whether you like him or not, he will be in heaven with us all.

    As God says " Therefore as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bearing with one another and forgiving one another. If someone happens to have a complaint against anyone else, just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you forgive others.

    Why do Christians go after each other, when they should be defending the faith when the news media and athesistsay horrible things about our Lord and Christians. I dont see this happening on facebook or blogs.

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    1. I know not everyone comes back to read replies to their comments, but I hope you do, Maria, because your question is a valid one, even though I don't agree with your conclusions. I had a sweet friend of mine send a long message to me highlighting a lot of the good work done by The 700 Club and CBN. I never meant for this post to deny any of that. However, I'm not confident in Robertson's judgment or leadership, which calls into question - for me, at least - the organization as a whole. Furthermore, the intentional editing out of the HIV comments without public comment (as a comparison, they did release a public comment very shortly after the adoption comments a year ago) shows a disregard for directly and truthfully dealing with the problem. Maybe this is a wrong assumption, but it seems like they're currently more concerned with alienating allies in the believing world (by immediately wanting to clear the air on the adoption issue, which other Christian conservatives are involved with) than alienating the unbelieving world (by not issuing any clarification about claims against gays or HIV+ people, both groups who are not as represented in the church for various reasons). That choice extends to more than just Robertson's words but also to decisions made by others at CBN.

      I was careful in this post to offer extensive quotes and links. At the time I published it, other news outlets (other than the admittedly anti-Robertson site I linked to above) had not yet reported on the HIV statements, though many others have now. In doing so, I was allowing readers to decide for themselves about his words, while also offering my own perspective and request. I never attacked him as a person, said I didn't like him, or denied that he is a Christian; that would have been out of line.

      I agree with the passages you quote and refer to in your comment; however, neither bar me, as a fellow Christian, from speaking about about Robertson's public words. I didn't make this clear in the post, but I have in the past reached out to CBN and Robertson directly and, via my open letter post last year, indirectly. Even so, passages - like Matthew 18 - that command us to go to individuals privately are referring to private sins and not public statements. Furthermore, admonition for sin - even the private kinds - can be public if the individual has refused to repent and persisted in sin, which is the pattern I've laid out here. Actually, if you look at the biblical example in the actions and words of Paul and other apostles, they don't fail to call out fellow believers who are leading others astray, preaching falsehood, and poorly representing Christ. In fact, Christ's harshest criticisms weren't for unbelievers but for religious leaders whose words and actions were not consistent with truth. In other words, public falsehoods by prominent Christians should be identified, and it is not hateful or unloving to do so (unless, of course, it is done in a hateful or unloving way, which is what's happening when, as you put it "Christians go after each other"). My motivation was not to attack Robertson but to prevent others from being led astray by him, especially knowing the history of what his ministry once was.

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    2. (continued...)

      I've never argued that Robertson is a bad person or any worse than I am. I have argued, and stand by my words, that his public statements are both concerning and detrimental, which is why this post isn't the opposite of forgiving, as you claim. I am not going after a person; I am using his own words to explain why I cannot support his ministry and why I recommend that others make the same choice.

      Finally, I disagree that we ought to be going after news media or atheists about the unbiblical things they say/do rather than our fellow Christians. We can speak out about things said about God by unbelievers, but they don't know Christ, so it's not a surprise when they say things against Him. When public Christians - who often are the primary sources of our faith to many unbelievers - fall short of the higher standard to which teachers are held, then it is helpful for others to stand up and say, "This is NOT what our faith says."

      I never - in this post or elsewhere on this blog - deny that I am a sinner and that I make mistakes. If I publicly and repeatedly began misrepresenting Christianity, though, I would expect other believers to heed scripture and correct me or, if I refused such correction, help steer others away from my untrue teachings. This wouldn't be mean-spirited, unforgiving, or unloving; in fact, it would be the only gracious and God-honoring way to respond.

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    3. Well said Shannon! Whenever concerns are raised about prominent teachers and ministry leaders (even if they are teaching utter heresy, lying, and leaving a wake of destruction) people always respond with "Christians shouldn't judge, it's not nice". While that's a common sentiment it's just plain NON biblical. We are commanded to judge, but do it respectfully and justly(without condemning). We are commanded to discern and speak truth. That is often the most loving thing we can do. Jesus called out false teachers. The apostles called out false teachers. And while it's not to be a knee jerk, mean spirited, vindictive response...if the situation arises, we shouldn't be afraid to speak out about it too. The whole "just focus on the good" mentality allows for a LOT of evil in the world, and in ministries. I know from personal experience how true this is. An image can be carefully constructed, but if underlying that image is fraud, abuse of power, corruption, lack of integrity, or messages that are anti-gospel, or blatantly unbiblical then that image (and the "good" done) don't really matter all that much. When we prop up ministries that are way off theologically, or unethical, because they "do so much good" we aren't giving God enough credit to raise up other leaders. Sometimes that unhealthy ministry is standing in the way of, and using money that could be going to a healthy ministry.

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  5. I am with ya, girl!

    The Bible also talks about calling out false teaching. In fact, it talks about that more than almost any other topic. The whole book of 1 Timothy is about it. What happens when false teachers proliferate? People are hurt, and it tears the church apart. REGARDLESS of what nice things they do in Jesus' name. I don't think Jesus would say we can ignore the comments about orphans, wives, and marginalized peoples because the ministry gives food and shelter to people that Pat deems worthy of help.

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    1. Or the prosperity gospel, or the Pallagianism, or the claims of extrabiblical revelation or the history of unfulfilled "prophecies" etc. You hit the nail on the head when you called him a false teacher. His views on divorce, the disabled, the fatherless etc. are the bitter fruit of his spiritual condition.

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    2. Totally tracking with ya, John! :)

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  6. I'm with you 100%. Never watched the show in my life- I hear enough about him in the news to know he is not someone I'd ever want to align myself with. It still shocks me how many people in this world are parading around hurting and spreading hate against people they don't know and/or don't understand all in the name of religion. I don't consider myself religious, but I do have faith. And the conclusion I've drawn is that faith equals love. Love that doesn't discriminate. Love that may not even understand. But love 100% for everyone.

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    1. I wouldn't boil it down to faith equals love... but faith does involve love, because God is love.

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  7. To those who believe it is wrong to call out a fellow Christian, I'd like to point a few things out. First, this is not an issue. This is people. This is my daughter. Allowing misinformation to spread could cost her a job in the future. It could prevent her from being allowed to join different activities and organizations. All of these things would be unjust and God loves justice. By nature He is just and He is love.

    We must speak out about wrongdoing when we see a fellow brother sister in Christ committing it. Anything less than that would be unloving. By calling him out, it gives him the opportunity to come to repentance and change. If not, it gives the organization the ability to understand the impact his comments are having on the perceptions of Christians. I personally want all of my unbelieving friends to understand that I'm not aligned with Pat Robertson. I want them to know that many of his statements are not consistent with the words and actions of Jesus Christ. Remaining silent on the issue for the sake of not disagreeing publicly with a brother in Christ is nothing more than tacit compliance.

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  8. And I'd also add that these types of non-Christian statements have been repeatedly made by Mr. Robertson over the last five + years and the 700 Club (and his other ministries) have failed to put their foot down. THAT is why the public outcry to stop supporting them. NOT because of the wonderful things they have done but because it is time for some Christian, loving, accountability for their #1 spokesperson.
    I can and will forgive Mr. Robertson, because that is what we Christians do. But I will not stop protecting and speaking out for people he victimizes, most specifically, my children.

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    1. Yes. Especially to this: "but because it is time for some Christian, loving, accountability for their #1 spokesperson." and this "I will not stop protecting and speaking out for people he victimizes, most specifically, my children."

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  9. Amen.

    There are PLENTY of other organizations that do wonderful work with those in need. Refusing to give to the 700 Club doesn't mean you are refusing to give at all. We all have a right to determine where our money goes--and I want mine going to help people, not demonize and hurt them.

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    1. Agreed. And if Robertson's words were to bring down an organization he founded that has done good in the past, that would be unfortunate... but the fall of the organization would not be due to me (or other bloggers) sounding the alarm about his hurtful comments but rather due to his saying the words in the first place and his organization's failing to hold him accountable (which tends to happen when more than half of your board of directors is directly related to you or another senior employee).

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  10. Simply put Pat Robertson is now and always has been a false teacher (never forget that the 700 originally stood for $700 of seed faith money that he wanted people to send him, an awful lot of money in the 70's), and like all false teachers he seeks to make people comfortable with their sin. For the past few years it has seemingly been their hate of the disabled he has been affirming. No one can preach the true gospel, having been truly transformed by it, and not have a broken heart for the afflicted and the fatherless.

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    1. Actually, the name came from their early campaign - in the early 60s not the 70s - to get 700 supporters to each donate $10. So, yes, it was money for the station, though not seed money given that the station had been broadcasting for a year when they hit financial trouble and launched the 700 campaign. I'm not in agreement that he has always been a false teacher, but I do have great concern - obviously, given this post - for his comments in recent years.

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    2. You are correct the term 700 club came from the original telethon efforts for CBN in the 60's but the brand 700 Club® referred to those who pledged $700 a year beginning in the early 70's. When I said seed faith, I was referring to the doctrine invented by Oral Roberts that if you give X amount of money then God will return to you 2X - 100X amount of money of which Pat Robertson is an enthusiastic support. I don't mean to be argumentative, but I have never heard Robertson proclaim the biblical gospel, I have heard clear Word of Faith teaching (prosperity gospel), which is a damning heresy, from his mouth. And seed faith is one of the most wicked manifestations of this teaching.

      This might be worth the read:
      http://www.christianpost.com/news/oral-roberts-memorial-a-stage-for-seed-faith-message-42382/

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    3. John, I certainly didn't think you were being argumentative. I haven't ever heard Robertson proclaim the gospel either, but Christian friends of mine who I trust say he did at one time. I fully agree with you about the dangers of the prosperity gospel too.

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  12. bytheriverSeptember 6, 2013 at 2:08 PM

    Enjoy your comments - I have watched PR and found he goes off the rails A LOT. NO I don't believe these things he's saying, don't support him or watch him now that I have seen how he thinks. My stepmother did not leave my stepfather after she found out his difficult behavior was due to alzheimers. She stood by him in illness as in health. I love my adopted NSN child just as much or more now that I have found out she has brain damage from a rare disease Moyamoya. Mr. R has strayed in my opinion from the intent of biblical teaching. Taking care of widows and orphans does not mean taking care only of the beautiful, fully functioning children or famous widows.

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  13. I always wonder what Pats cohost Terry Meeuwsen thought of his remarks considering she and her husband have adopted children and she is an advocate of adopting.

    erika

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