Top leaders of Congress are cosponsoring a birthday celebration for TV preacher Pat Robertson despite the religious broadcaster's record of religious and political extremism.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) are among the "Inner Circle Sponsors" of the Pat Robertson 70th Birthday Celebration, scheduled for March 24 at the Washington Hilton in Washington, D.C.
Other "Inner Circle Sponsors" include U.S. Sen. John Ashcroft (R-Mo.), House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas), U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) and U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.). Top officials from Robertson's home state also are well represented, including Gov. Jim Gilmore, Lieutenant Gov. John Hager and Attorney General Mark Earley.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State condemned the congressional endorsement of the TV preacher. Said AU's Executive Director Barry W. Lynn, "Pat Robertson makes Bob Jones III look tolerant, yet major leaders of Congress still line up to kiss his ring and toss him flowers. What a disgrace!"
Lynn charged that Robertson's power in Congress and Republican political circles has reached new heights even though his Christian Coalition has waned in influence and his rhetoric has remained extreme.
Examples of Robertson's record include:
* According to Robertson, a centuries-old Satanic conspiracy controls world events. In his book, The New World Order, he claimed Presidents George Bush and Jimmy Carter are agents of a "tightly knit cabal whose goal is nothing less than a new order for the human race under the domination of Lucifer and his followers." He claims Jews were admitted to the conspiracy through the Masonic lodge in France in 1782.
* Robertson has expressed open contempt for groups he dislikes. He once said on his television program, "You say you're supposed to be nice to the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians and the Methodists and this, that and the other thing. Nonsense. I don't have to be nice to the spirit of the Antichrist."
* On another occasion, Robertson said, "Many of those people involved with Adolf Hitler were Satanists, many of them were homosexuals. The two things seem to go together."
* In a fund-raising letter issued during a campaign to defeat an equal rights amendment in Iowa, Robertson wrote, "The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."
* Last year, Robertson advocated changing U.S. foreign policy to allow for assassination of foreign leaders. Admitting that the change "sounds somewhat Machiavellian and evil," he nonetheless said, "[I]t's the intelligent thing to do and I don't see anything un-Christian about it."
* In 1998 Robertson warned that the city of Orlando, Fla., might face divine wrath for allowing a gay group to display rainbow flags from city light poles. He said it might bring about terrorist bombs, earthquakes, tornadoes and "possibly a meteor."
Observed AU's Lynn, "Robertson's extremist track record is clear. Top-ranking members of Congress involved with this event ought to cancel their dinner plans."
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization represents 60,000 members and allied houses of worship in all 50 states.
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.