Christians criticise Robertson for assassination call
Christians in both the US and UK have criticised religious broadcaster Pat Robertson following his call for the US to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Mr Robertson caused controversy with the comments on his TV programme, describing Mr Chavez as "a terrific danger".
President Chavez is a regular critic of the US, which regards Venezuela as a possible source of instability in the region.
He has accused Washington of conspiring to topple his government and possibly backing plots to assassinate him.
Mr Robertson, 75, said on Monday's edition of the 700 Club: "You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it.
"It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don't think any oil shipments will stop."
Mr Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition of America and a former presidential candidate, accused the United States of failing to act when Mr Chavez was briefly overthrown in 2002.
Venezuela is the fifth-largest oil exporter and a major supplier of oil to the United States.
But Mr Robertson's comments have brought criticism even from those associated with the religious broadcaster.
Rev. Rob Schenck, president of the National Clergy Council in Washington, DC, said; "I have always held Pat Robertson in the highest esteem, but his remarks today about Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez were at best indiscreet and probably crossed a serious moral and ethical line. Reverend Robertson must immediately apologize, retract his statement and clarify what the Bible and Christianity teaches about the permissibility of taking human life outside of law."
Reverend Schenck, a minister in the Evangelical Church Alliance, has in the past worked closely with Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network, including hosting Mr. Robertson for major events and appearing on his 700 Club Broadcast. He was also a paid consultant to the American Center for Law and Justice, Robertson's legal arm.
Christians in the UK also warned of the links between certain Christian ideas and violence.
Jonathan Bartley and Simon Barrow of the thinktank Ekklesia have co-edited a book published this month which raises questions about how some church teachings about the death of Jesus could be linked to the approval of violence.
"Mr Robertson's comments should be a wake-up call to Christians on both sides of the Atlantic, that all faith traditions have texts, traditions and historical realities which point to a deep and uncomfortable connection between conventional religious faith and the unacceptable use of violence."
Following the London Bombings, Ekklesia urged a more "honest, open and rigorous conversation" about the religious roots of violence.
Mr Robertson's remarks come amid tense diplomatic relations between Venezuela and Washington.
Visiting Cuba, Mr Chavez would not be drawn but his deputy said Mr Robertson had made "terrorist" remarks and the US response would put its anti-terror policy to the test. He said the country was studying its legal options.
"The ball is in the US court, after this criminal statement by a citizen of that country.
"It's huge hypocrisy to maintain this discourse against terrorism and at the same time, in the heart of that country there are entirely terrorist statements like those."
State Department spokesman San McCormack said Mr Robertson was speaking as a private citizen and that the US administration did not share his views.
The US State Department said the comments were "inappropriate" and did not reflect the policy of the US.
A spokeswoman for the Christian Broadcasting Network told the BBC: "We are at a time of war and Pat had war on his mind when he made the comments."