Christian Broadcasting Network founder Pat Robertson dies at 93. The ‘700 Club’ host helped cement Republican Party’s enduring alliance with evangelical voters.
Legendary Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson, who spun a local Virginia TV station into the global Christian Broadcasting Network, has died at age 93, the network announced Thursday.
Robertson’s cause of death was not given in the announcement.
Robertson, known for his “700 Club” television show, had helped make religion central to Republican Party politics.
In 1988, Robertson ran for president, seeking the GOP nomination. He finished in second place in the Iowa caucuses, ahead of Vice President George H.W. Bush, with the help of his pioneering strategy of courting Iowa’s evangelical churches.
Robertson’s tactic of insisting that three million followers across the U.S. sign petitions before he would decide to run had also brought him a massive base, Jeffrey K. Hadden, a University of Virginia sociologist and a Robertson biographer told The Associated Press at the time.
Robertson later endorsed Bush, who won the presidency.
Through the experience of running for president, Robertson created the Christian Coalition, which helped cement the Republican Party’s enduring alliance with evangelical voters. Pursuit of Iowa’s evangelicals is now a common practice for Republican hopefuls, including those currently seeking the White House in 2024.
Robertson’s enterprises also included Regent University, an evangelical Christian school in Virginia Beach; the American Center for Law and Justice, which defends the First Amendment rights of religious people; and Operation Blessing, an international humanitarian organization.
Robertson was born Marion Gordon “Pat” Robertson on March 22, 1930, in Lexington, Virginia, to Absalom Willis Robertson and Gladys Churchill Robertson. His father served for 36 years as a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from Virginia.
After graduating from Washington and Lee University, he served as assistant adjutant of the 1st Marine Division in Korea.
He received a law degree from Yale University Law School, where he met his wife, Adelia “Dede” Elmer but failed the bar exam and chose not to pursue a law career.
Dede, a founding member of the Christian Broadcasting Network, died last year at age 94.
Robertson resigned as president of his Christian Coalition in 2001, citing a focus on ministerial work.