Pat Robertson, controversial foe of evolution and climate change, dies at 93

Marian Gordon "Pat" Robertson, a Southern Baptist minister, a one-time candidate for President, the founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network and the host of its program The 700 Club, and the cofounder of the advocacy group called the Christian Coalition, died on June 8, 2023, at the age of 93, according to the obituary in The New York Times (June 8, 2023). The obituary quoted a 2001 column in the Times describing Robertson, who had recently resigned as the president of the Christian Coalition, as "the most influential figure in American politics in the last decade."

Robertson was no friend of evolution. After voters in Dover, Pennsylvania, rejected the school board that adopted the antievolution policy that sparked Kitzmiller v. Dover at the polls in November 2005, he warned them, "if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God." Yet, interestingly, Robertson was consistently opposed to young-earth creationism. In the wake of the 2014 debate between Bill Nye "The Science Guy" and Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis, for example, he told viewers of The 700 Club, "There ain't no way that's possible ... To say it all dates back to 6,000 years is just nonsense." With regard to climate change, however, Robertson’s views seemed to have oscillated. In 2006, he appeared with Al Sharpton in a climate change awareness campaign sponsored by the Alliance for Climate Protection, for example, but by 2012 he was describing anthropogenic climate change as not "scientifically proven"; in the following year, he provided a sympathetic platform for a representative of the climate-change-denying Heartland Institute on The 700 Club.

Robertson was born in Lexington, Virginia, on March 22, 1930. After earning a B.A. in history from Washington and Lee University, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps, serving in Korea. He then earned a law degree from Yale Law School in 1955 and a Master of Divinity degree from The Biblical Seminary in New York in 1959; he was ordained as a minister of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1961. In addition to the Christian Broadcasting Network, he founded Regent (formerly CBN) University and the American Center for Law and Justice. His many books included the conspiracist The New World Order (1991).

Glenn Branch
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Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.