Kennedy's 'Postcards from
Pat Robertson's carelessness
Jonal entry 908 | Friday, August 26, 2005
I've been asked to comment on Pat Robertson's remarks that have been reported and commented on widely this week and described as a "Christian fatwa" or call for violence against a perceived enemy of the United States and/or Christian civilization. My dominant take on it is that it was blown up by the media to be much more than it was, as part of the secular media's general jihad against Christianity and Christians in the United States, but at the same time I have to agree with Marvin Olasky of World magazine that "Christians who are careless bring dishonor to God's name by making many believe there is no difference between the pre-eminent religion of peace and the many religions of violence." Robertson was careless.
I think it was blown out of proportion by every headline that referred to the comments as "a call to assassinate" the Venezuelan head of state, Hugo Chavez. And in general I agree with all of what Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, is quoted as saying on the topic in Thursday's Christianity Today weblog. Robertson's remarks were just thatremarks, speculations, thinking out loudabout whether it might make more sense to "take out" one corrupt enemy of free-market democracy than to go to war at a cost of billions of dollars and scores, hundreds, or even thousands of American military lives. As anyone who's watched the 700 Club regularly (as I used to do but haven't for some years now), knows, Robertson often shoots from the hip, metaphorically, in these answers to questions or top-of-the-head consideration of issues, and though he's usually right, no one is right all of the time and this is an instance of his rhetoric getting ahead of his principles. No one's perfect. There are righteous assassinations in the Old Testament and the United States government has tried to assassinate Fidel Castro and take out (by bombing) Moammar Kadafi, so I'm sure that Robertson was playing in this field of thought when he made his outrageous assertion about covert action against Chavez. He certainly wasn't suggesting that anyone who could get close enough should blow Chavez away, as a genuine fatwa would have meant.
But though I'm halfway apologetic on Robertson's behalf, I'm also grateful for the recitation of his past incursions into careless speech like "wishing for a nuke to take out the State Department building in D.C.," and mentioning other heads of state that the U.S. might want to consider "taking out," in Christianity Today's weblog. And though we're not to judge our travel companions on the journey to the Kingdom, there is some value in the blog's repeating some of Robertson's questionable financial behavior including investing in race horses. Blogger Ted Olsen's main point seems to be that Robertson is required to answer to no one because the 700 Club is locked into a contract with ABC's Family Channel that will keep it running there for, presumably, the rest of Robertson's life and probably beyond, without having to pay Disney-ABC for the cable time.
The details on this arrangement that Olsen reports make fascinating reading for a media maven like myself. He doesn't mention the great irony about it, however, that Disney had had covetous eyes on the former Robertson-controlled Family Channel before he announced plans to sell it and, when he did go looking for a buyer refused ABC's overtures because his denomination (Southern Baptist) was boycotting Disney at the time. Instead, he sold the channel to Fox, which quickly resold it to ABC, locking Robertson and Disney into a contract that must have been making life uncomfortable for both parties ever since.
Three final observations. First, my estimation is that "taking out" a corrupt godless dictator would rank, morally, somewhere below the aborting of any innocent unborn baby, so any abortion supporter who pretends moral superiority to Robertson is beyond hypocritical. Second, to those pundits who used headers like "WWJA, Who Would Jesus Assassinate?" Jesus has better ways of changing rulers than assassinating them and, in general, in this covenant age, He leaves the particulars of His work in the world to His followers. Third, one has to find humor in Jon Stewart's observations on Wednesday's Daily Show. In response to a tape clip of Ted Haggard's claim that Robertson's 700 Club "has one section of it that's a Christian exhortation, and then another section where he's a political pundit," Stewart, who constantly ribs himself about his liberal Jewishness, reinterpreted this as "one section that's Christian and the rest, that isn't," and elaborated tongue-in-cheek that following Jesus "fulltime" is well-nigh impossible, as Robertson proved.
Well, all of Jesus' followers "prove" this every day, but despite our failings, His mercies are still not less than fulltime and reliable.
Webmaster Jon Kennedy