Televangelist condemned by White House and Evangelicals for Sharon comments
Calls for controversial US televangelist Pat Robertson to retire are likely to intensify after the White House and Evangelicals sharply criticized the Christian broadcaster for suggesting that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke was divine punishment for "dividing God's land."
Robertson made his comments about Israel and Sharon on his television program, "The 700 Club."
"God considers this land to be his. You read the Bible and he says 'This is my land,' and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says, 'No, this is mine'" he said.
White House spokesman Trent Duffy however said that the comments were "wholly inappropriate and offensive and really don't have a place in this or any other debate,"
Evangelical leaders also joined the chorus of condemnation saying that they were embarrassed and incensed by the televangelists assertions.
Officials of conservative Christian churches and organizations suggested that Robertson is losing religious and political influence as a result of that statement and other recent controversial opinions.
"I'm appalled that Pat Robertson would make such statements. He ought to know better," said Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
"The arrogance of the statement shocks me almost as much as the insensitivity of it."
Christians in both the US and UK have previously criticised the religious broadcaster following his call for the US to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
A leading US evangelical leader described Robertson as "a theocrat", "an embarrassment to the church", "a danger to American politics", and urged "Christian leaders of all stripes to call on Robertson not just to apologize, but to retire."
In the UK a government minister has already called for Robertson to be banned from entering the country.