Pat Robertson, Televangelist Who Blamed Gay People for 9/11 and Hurricanes, Dies

Pat Robertson - Credit: Steve Helber/AP Images
Pat Robertson - Credit: Steve Helber/AP Images

Pat Robertson, the televangelist who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, died on Thursday at age 93. The Christian Broadcasting Network, which Robertson founded in 1960, announced the news Thursday morning.

Robertson is widely credited with ushering Christian-conservatism into mainstream politics in the 1980s and 1990s, and laying the groundwork for the modern right-wing culture war. He has a history of extreme, bigoted commentary — including that gay people and abortion caused 9/11, that Haitians deserved the 2010 earthquake that ravaged the island nation, and that feminists are evil.

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The 700 Club, Robertson’s long-running program on the CBN, was his most common platform for hate. In the days after 9/11, he brought on pastor Jerry Falwell to discuss the tragedy. “I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen,'” Falwell said, to which Robertson said “I totally concur” and that the “agenda” has been adopted by the “highest levels of our government.”

Robertson’s bigotry toward gay people was boundless. He said on The 700 Club that he wished Facebook had a “vomit button” for when he came across a picture of gay people kissing, equated gay people with Nazis and Satanists, and suggested God unleashed hurricanes and other natural disasters as punishment for homosexuality. “I would warn Orlando that you’re right in the way of some serious hurricanes, and I don’t think I’d be waving those flags in God’s face if I were you,” he said of Disney World’s Gay Days. “It’ll bring about terrorist bombs; it’ll bring earthquakes, tornadoes, and possibly a meteor.”

Robertson was very much an active participant in the modern, far-right Christian conservatism he helped create. He supported Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020, and described those trying to stop him from doing so as “revolting against what God’s plan is for America.” After a gunman killed 60 people in Las Vegas in 2017, Robertson blamed “disrespect” for Trump. Robertson broke from the former president after the 2020 election, however, saying Trump needed to “move on” from the loss and that it would be “a mistake” for him to run again in 2024.

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