Pat Robertson: A Life, A Legacy, Part 1
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CBN.com Lee Webb interviews Pat Robertson and author David Harrell about Pat's new biography, Pat Robertson: A Life and Legacy. In part one, Pat talks about his campaign for president, forming the Christian Coalition, and his relationship with the media. To purchase the new book, go to ShopCBN. Also, read more books by Pat Robertson.
LEE WEBB: What’s the one thing you think someone who may not know Pat very well would be surprised to learn?
ED HARRELL: The difficult thing about writing this book is that he’s been in so many things.
PAT ROBERTSON: You did exhaustive research into all sorts of letters and records, and you had unprecedented access to all the archives here at CBN. I don’t think we’ve ever given that to anybody before.
ED HARRELL: “It was a tremendous journey, a lot of work.
PAT ROBERTSON: I just said, "Have at it. We don’t have anything to hide." So there it is, warts and all.
ED HARRELL: Nobody knew what was in those files.
PAT ROBERTSON: Including me!
ED HARRELL: Absolutely, including you.
PAT ROBERTSON:I’ve been at it for 50 years or so, and I guess over the years I’ve been privileged to build up some rather extraordinary institutions that are still very effective.
ED HARRELL: His father did have some frustrations with him along the way. They had such great aspirations for this talented, handsome, young son, whose father would try to fix up with girls, from time to time.
PAT ROBERTSON: Girls and jobs, correct.
LEE WEBB: It was during that time that the call of the Lord came. Tell us about that.
PAT ROBERTSON: I was never happy. Augustine said, ‘Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.’ I had that divine restlessness. I tried pleasure, I ran around in Europe when I went through college, went to school at the University of London for a little while. I partied all over the place, did all kinds of things. Then I was in the Marine Corps during the Korean War. And I was going to make money. I was going into business. So I had a law career, and I thought that would lead to business. And it was there that this real hunger for God, I wanted more of God. And as they say the rest is history. It’s in the book.
ED HARRELL: It is in the book. You have spent many, many hours talking on The 700 Club. You have said a few things that have particularly focused on. Let’s talk about those for a minute, too because they’re part of the story.
PAT ROBERTSON: The truth is, the secular world isn’t too enamored with Jesus. And they’re not too enamored with someone who is leading people to Jesus. So if you’re out there talking about people’s sins, and you’re talking about righteousness, you will get pushback. Jesus Himself did. The apostles did. I mean, there’s persecution all up and down the line.
LEE WEBB: Has that brought you some level, to know that, as you’ve gone through some rough times as it deals with public perception of you, that it has to be expected?
PAT ROBERTSON: More than anything, I look at Jesus. Look at Jesus. His words were distorted. I’m not in the league with Jesus, would that I were, but still, those of His servants get the same treatment. But it’s the same kind of thing. I take comfort in that.
LEE WEBB: And His word says, "If they persecuted Me, they’ll persecute you."
PAT ROBERTSON: They’ll persecute you, too. You expect it.
ED HARRELL: You’ve taken stands quite a few times against some things that you considered extremist.
PAT ROBERTSON:I’m parodied as being some right-wing fundamentalist extremist, it just isn’t true. The parody doesn’t reflect reality.
ED HARRELL: Maybe I’d like to talk about the parody for a few minutes, and talk with you about the popular perception of Pat Robertson.
PAT ROBERTSON: Well, it used to hurt me. The local newspaper took delight in mischaracterizing me. First of all, I cancelled my subscription to the newspaper. I don’t read it. I really don’t. The rest of it, I just ignore. You have to ignore. My son would come to me and say, "Have you seen what they say on the internet?" I don’t care what they say on the internet. I don’t listen to that stuff. I don’t read it. I don’t want to hear it.
LEE WEBB: It’s been my experience that you’ve taken the valid criticism to heart.
PAT ROBERTSON: Oh, sure. If there’s anything valid, I’ll try to change. If I’ve done something wrong, I’ll apologize, I’ll try to correct.
ED HARRELL: Partly, every now and then you say something you shouldn’t say.
PAT ROBERTSON: No question. No question.
ED HARRELL: As all the rest of us do. Your major criticisms come only after your political incarnation.
PAT ROBERTSON: Right now, they’re letting up on me. Because at this point, they don’t think I’m too significant about politics. I guess when you cross 80 they leave you alone. As long as I was somehow associated with George Bush, or associated with the Christian Coalition, or having some influence in politics, they really were trying to hurt me if they could.
ED HARRELL: If you’re in their political ballpark, then they’re going to go after you.
PAT ROBERTSON: They don’t hesitate to destroy somebody. They will destroy anything they can. They will destroy somebody’s character, their reputation, their family, anything they can get their hands on in order to win an election. It’s extraordinary. When my father was in office, they were gentlemen. They were Southern gentlemen. They were Democrats and they get along with Republicans. They’d pray together, there was a sense of comity. You don’t find that today. There’s polarization of extreme measures in today’s world.
LEE WEBB: Did he want you to go into politics?
PAT ROBERTSON: No. He wouldn’t have had anything to do with it. If he had a chance, he would have told me not to!
ED HARRELL: The big thing you learned out of running for President, was that there were a lot of people out there who agreed with you.
PAT ROBERTSON: I had just short of two million people that voted for me in the Republican primaries, about one-point-eight million. I came in third, and beat some of the well-known people, including Donald Rumsfeld, who because Secretary of Defense later on. I beat him, I beat Jack Kemp, I beat a number in that primary. There were a number of people who thought I was their champion.
ED HARRELL: That leads me to the next chapter, the Christian Coalition chapter, because of what you’d left that election with.
PAT ROBERTSON: I formed the Christian Coalition, which was been wildly successful, and I use that term advisably, wildly successful. It took off like a prairie fire, and became possibly the most effective grassroots lobbying organization in America. And it happened just like overnight, because it was there.
ED HARRELL: Someone here said to me at one point, "Those were just years that didn’t amount to much." Actually, they amounted to quite a bit.
PAT ROBERTSON: When I look back at my campaign platform when I ran for President, George Bush picked up a whole lot of them in his successful run for the Presidency. So it wasn’t all for naught. But I’m sure the people at CBN think it was wasted, they think "Daddy, left us children to fend for ourselves.”
LEE WEBB: That was a tough time in the ministry, when you realized, you needed to come back. Explain what the Lord was telling you during that time.
PAT ROBERTSON: It was awful what happened financially. The income was cut from $135 million to $68 (million). It was almost a 50 percent cut. There were 500 or 600 people who got laid off, and it wasn’t a pleasant time. It was in the middle of all these scandals that took place, these televangelist scandals, Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker. The press played that to the hilt because of me. They wanted to embarrass me because I was in politics. And so they used these things to beat me up with. It was tough for CBN. But whenI came back, we rebuilt, and we’re stronger than ever.
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