Pat Robertson Assassinates Jesus

August 23, 2005 by

Pat Robertson on the 700 ClubAs you can expect, the news channels are swarmed with chatter over the latest stupid thing Pat Robertson has said: The U.S. should assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (watch the 700 Club video). Stupid comments like this and thousands of others do real damage to the cause of Christianity.

Why does anybody even listen to this guy?

The headlines today are amazing—it’s actually hard to tell the satire stories from the real ones:

Real or Fake?

[For the record, it’s fake, real, fake, real, real.]

Stupid Things Christians Say
OK, we’ve been here before: prominent Christians saying stupid things. It’s not exactly a great public relations move, and it certainly doesn’t help the image of the church.

Now let’s be clear about what we’re saying. We’re not saying that Christians should be silent in the face of injustice. We’re not saying Christians should keep quiet about sin to help our marketing. That’s a crock. We’re saying Christians need to be careful what they say. There’s a big difference between “assassinate that guy” and “that guy’s doing something wrong.”

Think before you speak.

In the Aftermath of Stupid Statements
Now that Robertson has opened his mouth and inserted both feet, what if potential visitors associate your church with Robertson’s comments? Sadly, it happens all too often that Christians are characterized by the unguarded comments of people like Robertson.

But there are a few things you can do:

  • Keep your distance. It’s the classic political move: distance yourself from the one in trouble. In this case it might be as simple as reiterating that your church doesn’t have the same stance as Robertson. It could be a simple side comment in a sermon or a newsletter article. It’s also worth noting that you want to distance your church from his comments, but not necessarily him as a person. Christians should still support one another, even when we say stupid things.
  • Humor helps. Laugher can often defuse a situation, and in this case poking fun at Robertson’s comments seems like a good way to go. Spoof ads or skits making light of the situation would show the difference between your views and Robertson’s and also reassure potential visitors that you’re not a bunch of wackos. Again, it’s important to have some balance: laughing at his comments is OK, laughing at him seems a little harsh.
  • Stick to your strengths. Make sure people don’t associate your church with something stupid a Christian said by making it clear what your church stands for. Grace, mercy, love, justice, etc. should be so blatant in your church’s sermons, newsletters, banners, posters, web sites, etc. that it’s obvious that comments about assassinating a world leader wouldn’t jive in your sanctuary.
  • Offer your perspective. When people discuss the issue, offer your perspective. Take the opportunity to explain that not all Christians would agree with something like what Robertson said. It would be ideal if a member of your church staff could offer that perspective to a local newspaper covering the story.
  • Apologize. This is something we’re often not good at, especially when it doesn’t seem like we’re the ones who should apologize. But offering an apology can be a gentle and graceful way to show where you stand.
  • Pray. I hate to bring up prayer in a public relations post because it just seems too easy to co-opt prayer. But it’s still important, even if nobody knows about it. Pray for Pat Robertson and Hugo Chavez. Who knows—mysterious ways, right? Maybe one day Pat and Hugo will laugh about this mess over drinks.

Dealing with something like this doesn’t need to be a huge ordeal for local churches. It could be as simple as a joking reference and a more serious comment at the beginning of Sunday’s sermon. But these kind of statements do have a long-term effect on our ability to communicate, especially with non-Christians. That may mean a college ministry or an outreach group will be dealing with stupid things Christians say six months down the road. Being aware of these issues and defusing them is the key.

And so is keeping them from happening. Think before you speak, even if you don’t have a nationally televised cable show.

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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12 Responses to “Pat Robertson Assassinates Jesus”

  • Anne Jackson
    August 23, 2005

    State Department spokesman Sean McCormack called Robertson’s remarks “inappropriate.”
    “This is not the policy of the United States government. We do not share his views,” McCormack said.
    Who would have thought the government would actually get it right this time? ;>P oy vey.

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  • Chris
    August 23, 2005

    The good thing is that there is a new generation of leadership arising that will far removed from any thinking or statements like this.
    If we can just hang on till then…

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  • Michael Rew
    August 23, 2005

    In 1998, Pat Robertson was ridiculed for saying Disney World was inviting hurricanes to hit Florida because of Gay Days. He was ridiculed all the more because Hurricane Bonnie threatened Virginia Beach, where the 700 Club is located, after he made those claims. But the storm turned at the end and ventured out into the Atlantic. This should not surprise us: “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (1 Peter 4:16-17). Pat Robertson may have judged Disney World and Florida, but judgment must begin with the house of God, and Virginia Beach was scarcely saved from that hurricane. So…
    At the beginning of the current war in Iraq, a strike was diverted to another target because military intelligence thought they had discovered Saddam Hussein’s location. It was not reported whether Hussein was there, but someone reportedly was injured. Someone mentioned that taking out Hussein at the outset could have made all the difference. Well, perhaps if our government did not have a ban against political assassinations, Hussein could have been killed years ago. Perhaps we could have spared ourselves this whole bloody affair. But, no, that might be stupid of me to say.

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  • Rob Childs
    August 24, 2005

    The story even made the evening news here in the UK, and that on the day my daily reading was from 1 John 3:32 “This is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another.”

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  • Peter Hamm
    August 24, 2005

    Another lesson in why we as believers, especially leaders, should keep our mouths shut about politics. But the greater lesson is this. Where is grace and mercy here? Obviously, Pat wasn’t wearing his WWJD bracelet that day!

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  • Herb Ely
    August 24, 2005

    Has Pat Robertsion ever read John 11:49-50. If so, I have a few two questions for him.

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  • Scott
    August 24, 2005

    I guess there are some that God can not save? WOW….. Pat thanks for nothing!

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  • Crystal Renaud
    August 25, 2005

    just another crazy Christian running his mouth off – making all of us other Christians appear radical and we’re out to “get” everyone.
    thanks, pat!

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  • Brian Burchell
    August 25, 2005

    Is it always wrong to take the life of another human being? Was Dietrich Bonhoffer wrong in his attempt to assassinate Hitler? Why get so stirred up about Pat Robertson?

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  • kevin
    August 25, 2005

    Brian, I think killing another human is always a difficult line to walk, but it is justifiable in certain circumstances. In a time of war with a brutal dictator like Hitler seems like a justifiable circumstance.
    But for an evangelical leader to publicly suggest assassination against a world leader when we’re not at war, nor is there a threat of war, well, that’s hard to justify.

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  • Don
    August 27, 2005

    Robetson is the old guard– He’s 75 and loopy, never the less– the whole thing reminds me of the day when the moral majority was nothing but a laugh to the world–once again, years later, we have somebody in the wrong place of power– the t.v. medium, talking jive to the people watching– more jive talking christians on the far right that actually like that stuff… why watch TBN? Why does anybody watch that channel?– it is nothing but propagand from the conservative right wing christians… It’s nutty, out of touch and biased…totally! I came to Christ years ago, have been in ministry for almost 20 years and I am tired of having to apologize for screwy ideals that are perpetrated on the people that the need the clear message of the Gospel– not some biased right wing political view!

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  • thoughts
    August 30, 2005

    2005 Summer Blogging Review

    With the summer winding down and me blogging like a mad man all over the place (except maybe here), I thought it’d be a good idea to take a page from the Jason Kottke book and do a summer blog…

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