NORFOLK, Va. — Pat Robertson, who turned a small Virginia television station into a global religious broadcast network, is quitting after half a century of running the “700 Club” on daily TV, the Christian Broadcasting Network announced Friday.
Robertson, 91, said in a statement that he hosted the network’s flagship program for the last time on Friday and that his son Gordon Robertson will take over the weekday show from Monday.
“I will no longer host the ‘700 Club,'” Robertson said on Friday during the show, though he promised to return from time to time, if he has a “revelation” to share. “I thank God for everyone who has been involved. And I want to thank you all.”
Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network aired on October 1, 1961 after he bought a bankrupt UHF television station in Portsmouth, Virginia. Production of the “700 Club” began in 1966.
Now based in Virginia Beach, CBN says its reach extends to more than 100 countries and territories in dozens of languages through TV and video evangelism, online ministry and prayer centers. The talk show ‘700 Club’ can be seen in the vast majority of US television markets.
“Pat Robertson was a huge influence on both American religion and American politics,” said John C. Green, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Akron.
One of Robertson’s innovations with the “700 Club” was the use of the secular talk show format, which broke away from the more traditional broadcasting of revival or church services.
“Here’s a well-educated person who conducts sophisticated conversations with a wide variety of guests on a wide variety of topics,” Green said. “It was definitely with a religious slant. But it was an approach that took on the day-to-day worries.”
Robertson was the son of a US senator and received a law degree from Yale. He ran for president in 1988 and also founded the Christian Coalition, which turned American evangelicals into a conservative political force.
“He opened up a path that many people have followed,” Green said. “Surveys show that a lot of people today watch – in one form or another – religious broadcasts. But in politics, I think he helped strengthen the alliance between conservative Christians and the Republican Party.”
As the host of “700 Club,” Robertson sometimes found himself in hot water for his airborne statements. In 2005, he called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and warned residents of a rural Pennsylvania town not to be surprised if disaster should befall them because they voted out school board members who preferred teaching ‘intelligent design’.
But Robertson also called for mandatory prison sentences for marijuana possession convictions to be ended. He later said in “The 700 Club” that marijuana should be legalized and treated as alcohol because the government’s war on drugs had failed.
After President Trump lost to Joe Biden in 2020, Robertson said Trump lived in an “alternative realty” and “must keep going,” news outlets reported.
Robertson will still appear on a monthly interactive episode of The 700 Club and will appear on the program “occasionally as news warrants,” according to the network.
Gordon Robertson, 63, is a Yale-trained former real estate attorney who is less known than his father, if not controversial at all. He is chief executive of CBN and has served as an executive producer of the “700 Club” for 20 years, and even longer as a co-host. He also hosts a show called ‘700 Club Interactive’.
He told The Associated Press on Friday that viewers should expect little from the show, which airs live on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
The younger Robertson said he hopes to host politicians from both sides of the aisle as he focuses on news and other topics from a Christian perspective.
He said he always wanted the show to be “a beacon of light of what can happen when people come together and say, ‘Let’s do some good in the world today.'”
“Let’s feed the poor,” he continued. ‘Let’s clothe the naked. Let’s give shelter to those in need. When disaster strikes, let us strike back with love and compassion.”
This story has been corrected. Gordon’s last name is Robertson, not Peterson.