TV evangelist forced to apologise for Chavez murder call - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
August 25, 2005

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TV evangelist forced to apologise for Chavez murder call

-25/08/05

Following a storm of international protest, Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson, a one-time US presidential candidate, has been forced to apologise for his televised remarks calling for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Mr Robertson made the comments on his widely watched Christian Broadcasting Network. The World Evangelical Alliance and the National Council of Churches USA were among hundreds of individuals and public bodies who objected.

The TV evangelist was also criticised by the US State Department and by the Secretary of State for Defence, Donald Rumsfeld.

At first Mr Robertson tried to deny his offence, saying that he had been ìmisrepresentedî. On the 700 Club programme he declared that he had suggested that US special forces should ìtake him [Chavez] outî - claiming that the phrase could mean ìa number of things, including kidnapping.î

But the video from Monday's telecast, easily available on the web, shows Robertson saying of the Venezuelan president: ìIf he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it.î He went on to propose that ìcovert operativesî could ìdo the job and then get it over with.î

Such remarks are not new. Six years ago Mr Robertson, a leading figure in the religious right, suggested the US agents might kill Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and North Korea's Kim Jong Il.

Yesterday the Rev Dr Bob Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches USA, which brings together denominations and faith groups representing 50 million Christians, described the televangelist's latest remarks ìappalling to the point of disbelief.î

Dr Edgar declared: ìIt defies logic that a clergyman could so casually dismiss thousands of years of Judaeo-Christian law, including the commandment that we are not to kill. It defies logic that this self-proclaimed Christian leader could so blithely abandon the teachings of Jesus to love our enemies and turn our cheeks against violence. It defies logic that a past candidate for the presidency could skirt the brink of international law to call for the assassination of a foreign leader.î

He added: ìAs a former member of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, I am convinced of the immorality of political violence and know its unpredictable and devastating effects on millions of people. One wonders if Robertsonís premise would one day be applied to opposition candidates in this country who might be a threat to an incumbentís re-election.î

The World Evangelical Alliance also issued a statement saying, ìRobertson does not speak for evangelical Christians. We believe in justice and the protection of human rights of all people.î

President Chavez defied a coup attempt in 2002, following a landslide victory in Venezuela's 1998 elections. He has angered the Bush administration by his attempts to wrest back control of the world's fifth-biggest oil industry and redistribute resources among the country's poor.

The Venezulan leader accused the US of ìfighting terror with terrorî by invading Afghanistan and Iraq. He also ired local Catholic leaders by telling them that ìthey do not walk... in the path of Christ.î His policies have produced vigorous support among the impoverished, and mass protest from other sectors of society.

The UK Christian think tank Ekklesia recently called for a debate about the roots of religious terror tactics, and its co-directors have edited Consuming Passion, a new book looking at the link between Christian doctrine and violence.

Find books now:

TV evangelist forced to apologise for Chavez murder call

-25/08/05

Following a storm of international protest, Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson, a one-time US presidential candidate, has been forced to apologise for his televised remarks calling for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Mr Robertson made the comments on his widely watched Christian Broadcasting Network. The World Evangelical Alliance and the National Council of Churches USA were among hundreds of individuals and public bodies who objected.

The TV evangelist was also criticised by the US State Department and by the Secretary of State for Defence, Donald Rumsfeld.

At first Mr Robertson tried to deny his offence, saying that he had been 'misrepresented'. On the 700 Club programme he declared that he had suggested that US special forces should 'take him [Chavez] out' - claiming that the phrase could mean 'a number of things, including kidnapping.'

But the video from Monday's telecast, easily available on the web, shows Robertson saying of the Venezuelan president: 'If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it.' He went on to propose that 'covert operatives' could 'do the job and then get it over with.'

Such remarks are not new. Six years ago Mr Robertson, a leading figure in the religious right, suggested the US agents might kill Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and North Korea's Kim Jong Il.

Yesterday the Rev Dr Bob Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches USA, which brings together denominations and faith groups representing 50 million Christians, described the televangelist's latest remarks 'appalling to the point of disbelief.'

Dr Edgar declared: 'It defies logic that a clergyman could so casually dismiss thousands of years of Judaeo-Christian law, including the commandment that we are not to kill. It defies logic that this self-proclaimed Christian leader could so blithely abandon the teachings of Jesus to love our enemies and turn our cheeks against violence. It defies logic that a past candidate for the presidency could skirt the brink of international law to call for the assassination of a foreign leader.'

He added: 'As a former member of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, I am convinced of the immorality of political violence and know its unpredictable and devastating effects on millions of people. One wonders if Robertson's premise would one day be applied to opposition candidates in this country who might be a threat to an incumbent's re-election.'

The World Evangelical Alliance also issued a statement saying, 'Robertson does not speak for evangelical Christians. We believe in justice and the protection of human rights of all people.'

President Chavez defied a coup attempt in 2002, following a landslide victory in Venezuela's 1998 elections. He has angered the Bush administration by his attempts to wrest back control of the world's fifth-biggest oil industry and redistribute resources among the country's poor.

The Venezulan leader accused the US of 'fighting terror with terror' by invading Afghanistan and Iraq. He also ired local Catholic leaders by telling them that 'they do not walk... in the path of Christ.' His policies have produced vigorous support among the impoverished, and mass protest from other sectors of society.

The UK Christian think tank Ekklesia recently called for a debate about the roots of religious terror tactics, and its co-directors have edited Consuming Passion, a new book looking at the link between Christian doctrine and violence.

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.