Pat Robertson dead at 93; ‘The 700 Club’ host, Christian Broadcasting Network founder

Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network who for decades hosted his religious media empire’s flagship show, “The 700 Club,” has died at age 93, the network announced Thursday.

A cause of death has not been released for Robertson, the creator of the Christian Coalition of America advocacy group whose influence was long felt throughout Republican politics, including with his own presidential run.

Born in Lexington, Va., in 1930, Marion Gordon “Pat” Robertson was the son of a longtime U.S. senator, Absalom Willis Robertson. He received a law degree from Yale University, where he met wife Adelia “Dede” Elmer, whom he married in 1954.

After failing the New York bar exam, Robertson, a Southern Baptist, switched focus and moved with Dede to Bedford-Stuyvesant in New York City, saying he received a message from God to become a minister. He studied at the New York Theological Seminary, where he received a master’s in divinity in 1959.

He and Dede then went back to Virginia, where Robertson purchased a bankrupt news station that he quickly reformed into the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN).

CBN went live in 1961, and the religious weekday talk show “The 700 Club” debuted five years later. Robertson hosted the program until his retirement in 2021, mixing conservative Christian conversation with appearances by guests such as Jimmy Carter and Donald Trump.

Robertson frequently sparked controversy, including with comments after 9/11. He suggested the terror attacks were the acts of an unhappy God angered by pornography, abortions and other worldly factors. He similarly asserted the COVID-19 pandemic was a punishment for same-sex marriage and abortion.

He ran for president in the 1988 election, losing the Republican nomination to George H. W. Bush, then founded the Christian Coalition of America, which inspired voting among conservative Americans throughout the 1990s.

“Even while promoting a worldview that believes in the inerrancy of the Bible, both his approach to business and his on-air persona were considered unorthodox by some — if not ahead of his time,” read a tribute Thursday on the CBN website. “Today, his influence and legacy crisscross interests and industries that have broken barriers for countless Christian leaders and laypeople.

Robertson and Dede had four kids, including son Gordon Robertson, who became CBN’s chief executive in 2007 and now hosts “The 700 Club.”

Dede died last year at age 94. Following her death, Robertson remembered her as “a woman of great faith, a champion of the gospel, and a remarkable servant of Christ who has left an indelible print on all that she set her hand to during her extraordinary life.”

With News Wire Services