“Armchair warriors often fail
And they’ve been poisoned by these fairy tales
The lawyers clean up all details
Since daddy had to lie.” — Don Henley
We see these events occur on the regular. Someone important in some line of work calls it a career. We saw it a couple of years ago in the talk media game when Rush Limbaugh got the congressional medal of freedom from the bottom of a Cracker Jacks container and then rode off into the sunset. Star athletes also get their last day in the sun as well.
Pat Robertson ended his run as the head of the 700 club after 55 long years. For those that don’t want to go through the pay wall you can also view the news here. I couldn’t imagine lasting 55 years doing anything and there are moments where I’m not sure if I will last 55 years period. For most teachers, that age seems to be right time to call it quits.
There are some religious scholars that classify heresy as the worst of the sins. Others would simply say that everyone is allowed to believe what they want. While that is true, there can be nothing worse than wrapping up your heresy and selling it as religious doctrine. So, those religious scholars are really talking about blasphemy. It’s hard to disrespect a God one does not believe exists. It’s only those that know and then choose to pervert it anyway that get into the real trouble.
It’s often been said that no one leaves Washington poorer than they came. The same could be said of televangelists. Some reports have Robertson privately worth between 200 million and a billion dollars. I’ll settle for 100 million. Of course, people will often argue as to whether the money was a byproduct of the hate being spewed or if it was the end game. It could just as easily be said that no one got poorer preaching hate.
I could go through a litany of things Robertson has said over the course of 50 plus years and I’ll attach a few here for those that want to go down the rabbit hole. That article obviously doesn’t exhaust them all. Volumes of books would be necessary to tackle his sordid legacy on this front.
Suffice it to say, when we have a platform we have a certain responsibility to use it to make the world a better place. We can do that through truth telling. We can do that by urging people to do the right thing in each moment they can. We can do that by welcoming disparate people into the flock. We can do that by showing compassion to the least of those among us.
Goodness knows that none of us will get it right 100 percent of the time. We are human. Goodness also knows that most of us will get nowhere near that kind of platform. It takes a certain kind of cowardice to know the truth and speak the opposite. It takes a scoundrel to pick the message that will get them the most money and not the message that will make people better than they were before. Robertson is obviously both.
Robertson reduced faith and Christian belief down to a math equation. If you get only ten percent of the population on your side you are still talking about 35 million Americans. If each gives just ten dollars to the cause you are now worth 350 million dollars. Obviously, they have more than ten percent to bank on and their followers certainly donated more than ten dollars a piece to the cause over the years.
And what exactly is that cause? Like Jerry Falwell and others, he somehow married Christianity to the Republican party. He simultaneously managed to soil both at the same time. A small government and low taxes party has somehow melded into one focused on petty slights, xenophobia, homophobia, sexism, and racism. Sadly, we’ve watched countless friends become radicalized one by one over the intervening decades.
The pews are also more sparse these days. Sure, a lot of it is pandemic oriented, but even that is a loaded statement. It’s hard to square a benevolent God, peace loving Christ, and what we see people of faith do and say on a regular basis. So, millions still believe but don’t participate. Others simply don’t believe anymore. This kind of erosion took decades to manifest itself and those are decades we can never get back. Robertson is at the life stage where he can exist on the fruits of his labor. He doesn’t have to worry about lack of faith or lack of attendance.
Like Limbaugh and others, Robertson has definitely left his mark. I guess that’s something by itself. Most of us could never dream of having such an impact on people. Most of us are glad about that. When my work here is done I can only hope that people think I made a positive difference. I’m sure Robertson tells himself that. It’s the last lie told by a blasphemer and opportunist.