The SBC Gets Serious About Political Violence (and Gets Political Violence on Sirius)
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Fri Jan 13, 2006 at 01:09:22 PM EST

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has castigated Sirius Satellite Radio's outrageous new shock jock for his arrogance and ungodly speech. They've called him an "embarrassment" who "bears responsibility to retract, rethink, repent, and restate his position" after his on-air endorsement of political assassination. But the SBC -- America's largest Protestant denomination, with more than 16.3 million members nationwide -- has stopped short of calling for this noxious but powerful broadcaster to be yanked off the air. In fact, the SBC now has a partnership with Sirius to beam his show to the whole planet. (Because in space radio, everyone can hear you scream.)

Howard Stern? Don't be ridiculous -- Stern doesn't advocate political assassinations. The SBC's new shock jock is a real worldwide media king -- one with a daily television broadcast audience that, according to the New York Times, has "more viewers than CNBC or MSNBC in prime time." We're talking about Pat Robertson, who should be taken seriously, not dismissed as a blowhard buffoon.
In December 2005, Sirius Satellite Radio teamed up with the SBC's national broadcasting arm, FamilyNet, to bring Christian Talk exclusively on Sirius channel 159, which will carry  the 700 Club with Pat Robertson six days a week. So the SBC takes Robertson seriously enough to call him down for advocating political violence, but not seriously enough to yank his Sirius leash. No, they're letting his daily broadcast roam free across the planet, as uncensored as Howard Stern. But which shock jock's message is truly dangerous?

While Stern styles himself "King of All Media" and tells fart jokes, Robertson styles himself as a prophet and repeatedly calls for God to strike his political enemies. Apparently, Robertson's list of enemies includes the good citizens of Dover, Delware, and Orlando, Florida, upon whom Robertson has invited God's wrath for, respectively, insisting that science be taught in public school science classes, and celebrating Gay Pride.

And who's the real media king? Robertson founded a broadcast media empire, an international network of nonprofits and business ventures (Liberian gold or blood diamonds, anyone?), a university, a law school, and a national law firm devoted to overturning the separation of church and state.

Robertson cedes nothing to Stern when it comes to on-air controversy. Robertson called in a 700 Club broadcast in August 2005 for American special forces to kill Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. But that's nothing new -- Robertson has long advocated political violence. For example, he previously used his 700 Club broadcast in August 1999 to call for lifting the executive order which bans the use of assassination as an instrument of US government policy. At the same time, he called for the assassinations of North Korea's Kim Jong-il, Iraq's Saddam Hussein, and Serbia's Slobodan Miloševic. What's new is that the SBC excoriated Robertson for such bloodthirsty remarks -- and then handed him an even bigger megaphone.

Listen to SBC leaders condemning Robertson's call for the assassination of Chávez. Here's SBC President Bobby Welch:

"The Southern Baptist Convention does not support or endorse public statements concerning assassinations of persons, even if they are despicable despots of foreign countries, and neither do I," stated Welch in a Baptist Press story. "Everyone is aware that the United Stares has a military and government agencies to deal with our foreign threats in a forceful combative way. The Christian's responsibility is to pray for our leaders as well as the extremists around the world. Jesus Christ can save these people and change their lives."
Here's Southern Baptist Seminary Dean Al Mohler:
"With unmistakable clarity and an apparent lack of self-consciousness, Robertson simply called for an assassination, presumably to be undertaken by U.S. military forces in violation of U.S. law.

"In so doing he gave the Venezuelan leader a propaganda gold mine, embarrassed the Bush administration, and left millions of viewers perplexed and troubled. More importantly, he brought shame to the cause of Christ. This is the kind of outrageous statement that makes evangelism all the more difficult. Missing from the entire context is the Christian understanding that violence can never be blessed as a good, but may only be employed under circumstances that would justify the limited use of lethal force in order to prevent even greater violence. Our witness to the Gospel is inevitably and deeply harmed when a recognized Christian leader casually recommends the assassination of a world leader...

"He has brought embarrassment upon us all.

...Pat Robertson bears responsibility to retract, rethink, repent, and restate his position on this issue..."

Right on, brothers! But does the SBC really mean it, or is it just praying one thing and doing another? To find the answer, look no further than the daily program guide for Sirius's Christian Talk, which carries the 700 Club on SBC's channel 159 on Monday through Saturday. And if you're still looking for answers, then try this quiz.

1. On Thursday, January 5, 2006, which theocratic leader told a national television audience that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke was a punishment from God?

(A) Pat Robertson
(B) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
(C) Both of the above

2. After claiming that Sharon's stroke was divine retribution, Robertson did which of the following?

(A) Explained that he was quoting from the Old Testament Book of Joel
(B) Suggested that the 1995 assassination of Yitzhak Rabin was also divine retribution
(C) He wrote, 'I ask your forgiveness and the forgiveness of the people of Israel for remarks I made."
(D) All of the above

3. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, has chastised Robertson, a fellow Southern Baptist, by making which of the following statements?

(A) Robertson is "way out on his own, in a leaking life raft."
(B) "I am almost as shocked by Pat Robertson's arrogance as I am by his insensitivity."
(C) He said that Southern Baptist Theological Seminary students were "embarrassed and incensed" at Robertson's suggestion that Sharon's stroke was divine retribution.
(D) He said, "Even if one agreed with Pat Robertson's position that the Israelis do not have the right to grant part of the Holy Land to the Palestinians, it would be well beyond Rev. Robertson's competence to discern that these tragic events were in any way, shape or form the result of God's judgment on any individuals."
(E) All of the above

4. Which of the following Protestant denominations has Robertson compared with "the spirit of the Antichrist"?

(A) Episcopalians
(B) Presbyterians
(C) Methodists
(D) All of the above

5. During the 700 Club broadcast on Thursday, September 13, 2001, Jerry Falwell blamed the terrorist attacks two days before on which of the following?

(A) The ACLU
(B) People for the American Way
(C) Federal courts that enforce the separation of church and state
(D) Feminists, gays, and lesbians
(E) All of the above

6. In response to Falwell's finger-pointing about September 11, Robertson did which of the following?

(A) He immediately replied, "I totally concur."
(B) He immediately blamed "the court system."
(C) He later chastised Falwell for making "a political statement of blame... that was severe and harsh in tone" and "totally inappropriate."
(D) He later said that he had not understood Falwell.
(E) He later blamed critics for taking Falwell's statements out of context.
(F) All of the above

7. In August 2005, Robertson stated on the 700 Club that  Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez should be "assassinated" for what reason?

(A) Because Chávez already "thinks we're trying to assassinate him."
(B) "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war."
(C) Because Chávez is "controlling a huge pool of oil."
(D) All of the above.

8. Following an international media frenzy over Robertson's nationally broadcast call for "American special forces" to "take out" Chávez, Robertson did which of the following?

(A) Falsely claimed that he never used the word "assassinate."
(B) He wrote, "Is it right to call for assassination? No, and I apologize for that statement."
(C) He went on CNN and compared Chávez with Hitler.
(D) All of the above

9. Heritage Foundation Fellow Joe Loconte has written in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that evangelical leaders should do what to Robertson?

(A) They should "marginalize Robertson and his media empire -- publicly and decisively."
(B) They should "editorialize against his excesses."
(C) They should "refuse to appear on his television program and deny him advertising space in their magazines."
(D) They should "threaten to resign" from boards "unless he steps down from his public platform."
(E) All of the above

Gentle Reader, you undoubtedly do not need to be told that for each of the above questions, the ANSWER is "Both or all of the above."

BONUS: On Thursday, January 12, 2006, Robertson sent a public apology to Sharon's son. For 50 extra points, and a chance to do a Church Lady Superior Dance, come up with a sensible theory -- other than mental illness -- on why Robertson issues so many calls for divine retribution (or denials, clarifications, or belated apologies for same) on Thursdays.

Jay Leno, January 9, 2006: "Last week, Pat Robertson said that Ariel Sharon had a stroke because God was punishing him for dividing Israel. Now, remember a couple of years ago when Pat Robertson announced he had prostate cancer? Do you think maybe God was punishing him for being a pain in the ass? Do you think that's possible?"

Jay Leno, January 12, 2006: "I don't think Pat Robertson gets it. He sent an apology to Sharon's son. We have the actual card here. On the outside, it says, 'Sorry you're sick.' And on the inside: 'God must hate you.' I don't think Pat Robertson gets it."

by jhutson on Fri Jan 13, 2006 at 01:34:10 PM EST
  I will say this about the radical right and I honestly don't know why Mr. Bush supports them...or why the republican party takes them seriously ,but they are a force to be contended with. Pat Robertson in the past, said that 911  was caused by the "sins" of our nation and was God's punnishment.. Okay think about that for a moment... let's see what Mr. Robertson is actually saying. A)  he is condoning and even excusing acts of terrorism against our democracy..and actually justifying them in the name of God's in essence he is agreeing with their behavior.b) he is saying that God indiscriminately punnishes people even though they are innocent for the so-called sins of our nation... Justifying revenge and acts of violence....His statements are as un-american as they come... and how senseless and irrational can you be? I would not as a spiritual person or even a decent human being or a Christian would say such things about senseless atrocities... We as Americans wouldn't even support those acts by our own people, remember Timothy Mcvey?... Would you say his actions by blowing up a federal building in Oklahoma were justfied? Of course not... To me ,actually what Pat Robertson is saying is he supports terrorism and  is anti-american,and anti democracy.. and it is why I call him extreme and fanatical... he's basically agreeing with the fanatical  attempts of islamic zealots... so to me he is no different from them.  I know Mr. Bush does not support terrorism, in that I believe he is sincere...and he probably doesn't even agree with Pat Robertson.... but he does let the religious right  have too much influence and control over him.... and he needs to wise up. The responsibility for actions must rest on the perpetrators of those actions.... not innocent people in any way. Killing and harming the innocent is never justified and it is not due to God's vengence or wrath... they are senseless atrocities perpetrated by senseless people who are deluded and out of touch with reality and  don't know right from wrong.. Criminal acts and anti-social acts are never justified not even in the name of  a religion. Pat Robertson's statements are absurd, unthinking and senseless... why would anyone want to take this man seriously... He does not represent mainstream America,or their churches... He is totally out of touch with Christian teachings and general.The man is deluded...... the sins of a nation indeed... why not justify murder and rape then,or the bombing of abortion clinics.... of course in his views they would probably be God's intentions in retaliation for   our  presumable sins.

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Last night, there was a segment on "All Things Considered" that talked about Robertson being chastised.

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by Lorie Johnson on Fri Jan 13, 2006 at 03:07:31 PM EST

That's a good NPR report, Lorie. Thanks for the link. The thesis seems to be that Robertson's former allies (notably, SBC's Richard Land) are distancing themselves from him. True, SBC leaders and others have chastised Robertson. But if they really wanted to distance themselves from Robertson, then why are they partnering with Sirius to spread his "bad theology" and his "appalling spiritual ignorance and an appalling spiritual arrogance" (Land's words on NPR) all over the planet? How credible is this condemnation if the SBC lets him roam on a loose leash, and feeds him Scooby snacks in terms of a sweet satellite radio content distribution deal?

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