Pat Robertson, the trailblazing television minister who founded the Christian Broadcasting Network and hosted the channel’s flagship show, The 700 Club, died June 8. He was 93.
CBN, with headquarters in Virginia, was the first Christian television network in the United States when it launched in 1960 when Robertson said he had only $70 to his name. Today, it is seen in 200 nations and heard in 70 languages, including Spanish, Chinese, French, Russian and Arabic. He began hosting The 700 Club in 1966 and last hosted it in 2021.
“He had no money to speak of, and he decided the Lord wanted him to have that station,” Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship, told CBN.
“Pat always had this vision to go where a lot of people don't go. When you do that, sometimes you're criticized by people,” Laurie said. “He's been a risk taker in the best sense of the word. A visionary. A dreamer. But someone whose message was the Gospel.”
Robertson founded Operation Blessing, a nonprofit humanitarian organization that works around the world to provide hunger relief, clean water, medical care and disaster relief.
He launched Regent University (initially CBN University), a Christian school.
Robertson also founded International Family Entertainment and The Flying Hospital.
Robertson died at his home in Virginia Beach, CBN said. Jennifer Wishon, a correspondent for CBN, said Robertson “dedicated his life to spreading the gospel.”
Pat Robertson, a broadcasting legend who dedicated his life to spreading the gospel and love of Jesus around the world, died this morning at age 93. I have the pleasure of contributing a small part to the global Christian Broadcasting Network he founded. #CBNNEWS pic.twitter.com/TDkTTi0JIk— Jennifer Wishon (@JenniferWishon) June 8, 2023
Robertson also was outspoken for social conservative causes. He was a key to Ronald Reagan’s rise to become a two-term president and helped him gain evangelical support. (Robertson interviewed Reagan on The 700 Club.) In 1988, Robertson himself ran for the Republican presidential nomination, finishing a shocking second in the Iowa caucuses behind eventual nominee George H.W. Bush and winning four states before withdrawing. He was third in the GOP popular vote that year behind Bush and Bob Dole.
He founded the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) and The Christian Coalition.
“He shattered the stain glass window,” Bishop T.D. Jakes, pastor of the Potter's House in Dallas, told CBN. “People of faith were taken seriously beyond the church house and into the White House.”
Jakes added, “When you think of Pat Robertson, I think one of the major lessons you learn is that if you have a dream, go after it. Even if you fall short of it.”
Evangelist Franklin Graham said Robertson displayed courage in his ministry.
“I was always impressed with his boldness,” Graham told CBN. “He did it in a nice way. He wasn't offensive, but he spoke truth. And that offended people – when you speak truth. But that's ok.”
He is survived by his children Tim, Elizabeth and Gordon and Ann; 14 grandchildren; and 24 great-grandchildren. His wife, Dede, preceded him in death in 2022. They were married for nearly 70 years.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Win McNamee/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.