Although TV preacher Pat Robertson continues to demand the defunding of the National Endowment for the Arts, new evidence released today by a church-state watchdog group shows that Robertson has asked for and received NEA grant money.
According to Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Robertson's Regent University applied for a grant from the Virginia Council for the Arts during the Fall 1997 Project Grant round. Robertson's school was awarded $1,000 for "Pavel's Chariot," a film recently completed and shown in the annual Regent University Film Festival in Virginia Beach, Va.
The Virginia state agency distributes $3.4 million in arts grants, of which $523,000 comes from the NEA. The film's credits note funding from both the Virginia Council for the Arts and the NEA.
"Robertson's hypocrisy has been legendary for some time, but this is ridiculous," said Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. "If a multi-millionaire like Robertson is so opposed to public arts funding, one has to wonder why he would go to the government for a handout."
Yesterday, Robertson's political group, the Christian Coalition, issued a press release calling for the end of the NEA. The release, which was distributed in connection with an anticipated House vote on shutting down the NEA, quotes Coalition Executive Director Randy Tate as saying, "Let's fully privatize the arts and end welfare for the artistic left."
"I don't know about Randy, but I'd hardly call Regent University the 'artistic left,'" Lynn said. "Clearly, Robertson and Company have a double standard. Government subsidies for them are fine, but they don't want anyone else to benefit."
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.