US evangelical calls on 'theocrat' Robertson to resign
A leading US evangelical leader has described Pat Robertson as "a theocrat", "an embarrassment to the church", "a danger to American politics", and has asked "Christian leaders of all stripes to call on Robertson not just to apologize, but to retire."
The comments on the controversial televangelist, who was forced grudgingly to back down after calling for the assassination of the President of Venezuela, have come from Sojourners editor Jim Wallis. Wallis is author of the best-seller God's Politics and a long-term critic of the religious right. He has recently called on Democrats to develop progressive policies and a positive attitude to religion.
In the latest SojoNet column, Wallis writes: " [Pat] Robertson is known for his completely irresponsible statements - that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were due to American feminists and liberals, that true Christians could vote only for George W. Bush, that the federal judiciary is a greater threat to America than those who flew the planes into the World Trade Center Towers, and the list goes on. Robertson even took credit once for diverting a hurricane. But his latest outburst may take the cake."
He continues: "It's clear [he] must not have first asked himself 'What would Jesus do?' But the teachings of Jesus have never been very popular with Robertson. He gets his religion elsewhere, from the twisted ideologies of an American brand of right-wing fundamentalism that has always been more nationalist than Christian."
Along with other church leaders and theologians, Wallis is appalled that Pat Robertson tried to justify himself with reference to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was killed by the Nazis for his Christian opposition to their regime and policies.
Declared the Sojourners leader: "Robertson's political and theological reasoning is simply unbelievable. Chavez, a democratically elected leader in no less than three internationally certified votes, has been an irritant to the Bush administration, but ... his human rights record [does not] even approach that of the Latin American dictators who have been responsible for massive violations of human rights and the deaths of tens of thousands of people (think of the military regimes of Chile, Argentina, El Salvador, and Guatemala). Robertson never criticized them, perhaps because many of them were supported by US military aid and training."
He concluded: "This incident reveals that Robertson does not believe in democracy; he believes in theocracy. And he would like governments, including our own, to implement his theological agenda, perhaps legislate Leviticus, and 'take out' those who disagree."
Meanwhile, in Britain, a government minister has fuelled debate over proposed anti-terror laws by calling for the controversial American preacher to be banned from the UK.
President Chavez has also been making hay out of the Robertson incident. Criticising President Bush for not publicly rebuking one of his high-profile supporters who has called for the murder of a foreign head of state, the Venezuelan leader demanded the televangelist's extradition on anti-terror grounds.
Chavez has also offered a specially subsidised oil deal for poor communities in the US, and has said he will get the United Nations and the International Criminal Court involved if the Bush administration takes no action.