December 2005

Pat Robertson: A poor example of a Christian

By Katharhynn Heidelberg

Woe betide Dover, Pa., because to hear Pat Robertson tell it, it’s truly godforsaken.

Last month, Dover became ground zero in the “700 Club” founder’s self-proclaimed holy war, when its residents had the temerity to vote out eight school-board members who’d decided intelligent design theory could be taught in the schools. Pat, in his imminently rational way, said Dover had just “voted God out of its city,” so, it shouldn’t be surprised if disaster struck, in which case the residents should call on Charles Darwin. God, Robertson said later, is loving and patient, but “we can’t keep sticking our finger in His eye forever.” He also said “spiritual actions have consequences,” apparently mistaking the ballot box for the high altar.

It is time — past time — to rein in Pat Robertson, not because he’s a raging nutbag, but because he’s a bad Christian. It’s hard to see that, because he’s always presented as some sort of Uber Christian Extraordinaire, but some fellow believers do see it, and for us, his “outbursts” provoke both shudders and laughter.

For a good old case of the heebie jeebies, we’ve got Pat, Pat the Megalomaniac chattering absurdities — feminists, and witches, and Hugo Chavez, oh my! — as if he really believes them. He speaks with the charm and skill of a slick, snake-oil mountebank peddling his panaceas to the gullible. The difference between a lunatic and a charlatan, though, is important: A lunatic really believes it when he says: “Lo! God shall smite thee, thou feckless Pennsylvanians!” A charlatan, once the wagon is packed and rolling down the road, calmly counts his money. Or takes stock of the influence he has, not just on the faithful, but on the political system that serves those of many faiths.

Then of course, there are the absurdities, which have real giggle potential. What’s Pat’s deal? Does he just sit around waiting for this type of thing to happen? Doing so would give him time to rehearse the looniest possible “outburst.”

Of course, he could also have spent that time actually helping his fellow man, but I guess buying a beggar a cup of coffee; raking an old lady’s leaves, or trying to find a stray animal a home isn’t going to attract as much media attention as: “Don’t call on God, Dover! You rejected him out of your town! We can’t keep sticking our finger in God’s eye forever!”

Well, Pat, seems there’s a beam sticking out of your own eye. Perhaps you ought to look to that before picking at Dover’s motes?

Oops. Hypocrisy’s not a laughing matter. But the underlying idea of Pat’s latest spew of propaganda that masquerades as spontaneity kind of is: That Dover, by not voting as Pat would’ve liked, “rejected” God. Last I checked, God wasn’t on the Pennsylvania ballot, and it isn’t as if His existence could be proven or disproven by a majority vote of any kind, anywhere.

Another ribtickler: The idea that old Pat is somehow “in the know” concerning God’s next move. Does he have a burning bush in his yard, or is God text-messaging him?

It’s laughable, but for many Christians, it’s laughter that rings a dull echo in the pit of a churning stomach. We are, in a word, tired. We’re tired of Pat Robertson making a mockery of our faith and destroying our credibility. Also, he’s scaring the pants off us. So, Pat, listen up: God Almighty is not at your beck and call. Do not presume to know His mind, and stop invoking Him for your own ends, you blasphemous windbag.

Pat Robertson is a good Christian in the same way that a snake-oil salesman is a good doctor. He’s got all the trappings; from the fire and brimstone in the belly to a glittering stage, but his agenda has precious little to do with saving anyone.

A good Christian does not grandstand on his faith to gratify his own ego. A good Christian does not hide his hatred and bigotry and sheer, mind-boggling stupidity behind the word of God. A good Christian does not react hysterically when others challenge his beliefs — he doesn’t need to, because if those beliefs are genuine, it doesn’t matter what the rest of the world thinks. A good Christian does not pretend that God values him above others, or that he has some “special” connection; that, after all, is the domain of cult leaders.

Of course, a good Christian also doesn’t judge, which means I’m a poor one myself. But unlike Pat, I don’t pretend to be perfect.

Katharhynn Heidelberg is a journalist working in Montrose.