Pat Robertson Unites Evangelical Christians and Drives Them to Conservatism 2023

Television and Pat Robertson’s folksy preaching approach conservatively guided tens of millions of evangelical Christians.

His biggest impact was uniting evangelicalism and the GOP.

“The culture wars being waged today by just about all the national Republican candidates—that is partly a product of Robertson,” said University of Virginia Center for Politics director Larry Sabato, a seasoned political analyst.

Cable’s late 1970s rise broadened Robertson’s reach. He galvanized viewers in 1988.

93-year-old Robertson died Thursday.

Next year, he created the influential Christian Coalition. Ralph Reed, who headed the coalition in the 1990s and heads the Faith & Freedom Coalition, intended to “influence and impact the trajectory of the Republican Party and turn it into a pro-life, pro-family party.”

After President Bill Clinton’s 1992 triumph, the Christian Coalition fueled the 1994 “Republican Revolution” that delivered the GOP control of the U.S. House and Senate.

Robertson, the son of a senator and Yale Law School graduate, blamed liberals for 9/11. From Virginia, he prayed against hurricanes.

“Even Pentecostals, and I’ve known a lot, they’re not usually going that far,” said Grant Wacker, Duke Divinity School professor emeritus of Christian history.

Robertson was the first presidential contender to visit Iowa’s evangelical congregations. He finished second in the Iowa caucuses, ahead of Vice President George H.W. Bush.

Robertson helped Bush win. Republican presidential hopefuls, including 2024 aspirants, aggressively pursue Iowa evangelicals.

Reed named Christian Republicans Mike Pence and Tim Scott.

“It’s easy to forget when you’re living it every day, but there wouldn’t have been a single, explicit evangelical at any of those levels 40 years ago in the Republican Party,” Reed said.

Robertson founded the Christian Broadcasting Network in 1961 after buying a bankrupt Portsmouth, Virginia UHF television station. The 700 Club started in 1966.

Robertson mixed preaching with family-friendly repetitions to promote “The 700 Club,” a news and conversation program about everyday people meeting Jesus Christ.

He didn’t only fundraise. David John Marley, author of “Pat Robertson: An American Life,” argues Robertson marketed and broadcasted secular programs.

Televangelism became Marley’s business.

Reed stated late 1970s cable TV had 10 channels and Pat was one.

Pastor Robertson addressed the camera.

Wacker of Duke Divinity School compared his appeal to Billy Graham, who died in 2018 after influencing American religion and politics.

“He really showed a lot of pastors and other Christians across this country how impactful media can be—to reach beyond the four walls of their churches,” said Troy A. Miller, president and CEO of the National Religious Broadcasters.

Robertson’s biographer, Jeffrey K. Hadden, told The AP that Robertson’s masterstroke was asking 3 million followers to sign petitions before running for president in 1988. Robertson benefited.

In 1988, Hadden told the AP he wanted people to work, pray, and donate.

In the late 1990s, George Washington University doctoral student Marley got full access to Robertson’s presidential campaign documents.

Marley said Robertson prepared for his presidential race for two years.

Robertson liked playing “kingmaker” between evangelical Christians and Republican leaders like Ronald Reagan.

Marley said George W. Bush could talk alone.

Marley told Robertson in 1998 that the pastor was pleased with his setbacks and triumphs.

Marley saw peace.

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