Pat Robertson Dies: Televangelist Was 93

Pat Robertson in Til Kingdom Come
Abramorama / Courtesy Everett Collection

Televangelist Pat Robertson, the longtime host of the Christian Broadcast Network’s (CBN) The 700 Club and former presidential candidate, has died. He was 93.

Robertson’s passing was confirmed by CBN, the network he founded in 1960. A cause of death has not yet been revealed.

Serving as the host of The 700 Club from 1966 to 2021, Robertson was known for advocating a conservative Christian ideology, often providing controversial opinions on politics and daily news topics. He stepped down from the show on October 1, 2021, and was replaced as full-time host by his son, Gordon Robertson.

Robertson ran for the Republican nomination for president in 1986, though he did not receive the nomination. However, his impressive showing, particularly in the first contest in Iowa, led to him becoming a force within GOP politics for years to come. He would also go on to form the Christian advocacy group the Christian Coalition in 1987.

In addition, Robertson’s work and enterprises included Regent University, the private Christian institution he founded in 1977; the American Center for Law and Justice, which defends the First Amendment rights of religious people; and the international humanitarian organization Operation Blessing.

Robertson earned a law degree from Yale University Law School, but after failing the bar exam, he chose not to pursue a law career. Instead, he found religion, receiving a Master’s in divinity from New York Theological Seminary in 1959 and then moving his family to Portsmouth, Virginia, where he purchased a bankrupt UHF television station.

After landing investors, Roberston launched CBN on October 1, 1961, the same year he was ordained as a minister of the Southern Baptist Convention. He established CBN as a tax-exempt religious non-profit, though the network eventually became so lucrative it couldn’t keep its tax-exempt charity status.

In 1977, CBN launched the CBN Satellite Service, which later became The Family Channel, which was spun off into a separate commercial entity and sold to News Corp. for $1.9 billion in 1997.

Robertson’s preaching often drew controversy as he promoted the healing power of God, leading prayers to ward off natural disasters and denouncing other religions, such as Hinduism and Islam, as “demonic” and “Satanic.”

In 2005, he implied that Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment for America’s abortion policy and suggested the September 11 attacks and the New Orleans disaster “could be connected in some way.” He made similar offensive comments regarding the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

He also regularly denounced homosexuality, feminism, and liberalism.

Robertson is survived by his four children, Tim, Elizabeth, Gordon, and Ann, his 14 grandchildren, and 24 great-grandchildren. His wife of almost 70 years, Dede Robertson, passed away in 2022.