Thursday, August 25, 2005

Pat Robertson's Firestorm

I'm actually a big fan of Christian television, however programs that attempt to promote outrageous and irresponsible political notions rather than offer a gentle moral prodding in a direction that promotes a responsible and moral environment do unsettle me.

This week, the Rev. Pat Robertson gave Christian television a blackeye with his suggestion that the irresponsible leftist president of Venezuela should be "assassinated". Many in the Christian community including some pastors have condemned this as an unChristian viewpoint for Robertson to publicly promote on his 700 Club program. And the Bush Administration's State Department characterized any such attempt on a democratically elected head of state such asVenezuela President Hugo Chavez as being flatly illegal and contrary to U.S. law.

I don't agree with the politics of Pat Robertson, but he's basicly a likable fellow, with an interesting Christian program, the 700 Club, which does have many uplifting stories of faith. And Robertson even joined with politically liberal Hollywood and rock music figures recently in the "One" campaign. But the show does seem to take a bad editorial turn when Pat Robertson is the host, as blantantly far right politics such as the irresponsible call for the U.S. to assassinate Hugo Chavez are promoted. When others host the program, the content revolves more around prayer and uplifting little stories of faith. And even much of the "CBN News", seems to be not that bad of reporting. Certainly the stories are to the right of even Fox News, yet have interesting content.

I sort of like Pat Robertson. He's basically a kind man. But he has political views far from the political mainstream, even for the Republican Party. All during August he has called for prayer to change the Supreme Court. Yet only two of the current court members were appointed by a Democrat, in fact both by Bill Clinton, all the other seven members are registered Republicans who were appointed by Republican presidents. The problem is that even among these Supreme Court Republicans, Pat Robertson's politics are so far to the right, that nearly half of the Republicans on the Supreme Court seem like blazing liberals to Robertson. And calling on prayer or God to change the Supreme Court to the political liking of Pat Robertson seems like an irresponsible abuse of prayer to me.

And Monday, after creating the firestorm over his comments supporting the assassination of Hugo Chavez, Robertson claimed he stood by his comments on Tuesdays, but today, on Wednesday, Robertson confused the problems he created for himself by claiming the AP misquoted him, and attempted to blame the media for his problems. But later today retracted that statement with a sincere apology that he was wrong and that calling for the assassination a democratically elected foreign leader was also wrong.

There are so many good Christian programs on television, that avoid politics and instead promote faith or responsible values. Joel Osteen of the Lakewood Church in Houston, is nicknamed the "smiling preacher" because he never has a bad word about anyone, an no politics to promote either. Pastor Mark Findley of the Seven Day Adventist faith has the wonderful, It Is Wrtten program. Charles Stanlley, the former elected head of the Southern Baptist Convention has an excellent uplifting program. Robert Schuller has The Hour Of Power, with a wonderful uplifting Christian message quite similar to the works of Rev. Vincent Pealle. Pat Robertson could learn much from these moderate religious programs who never promote political assassination or radical right politics like Robertson has, and instead promote a responsible Christian conduct.

My Website does involve both politics and what I believe to be responsible Christian values such as to question untruths promoted by government, opposition to the serious sin of war which does not respect the standards of God, that all human life is sacred, and a temple of the Spirit of God, and economic justice for the poor and oppressed. Pat Robertson has a right to his political opinions, but also the responsibilty to be sure that these opinions have some basis in Biblical values. If any lesson for Mr. Robertson should be taken from the current controversy he created, it is to more carefully script and think about his opinions before expressing them. If an opinion doesn't seem to be proper, it should then not be aired to the one million viewers of the 700 Club program.