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Pat Robertson, the conservative evangelist and media mogul who galvanized the modern Christian right, cultivated a massive national following, and regularly drew criticism for his incendiary political statements, passed away on Thursday, according to his official broadcasting network. He was 93.

The Christian Broadcasting Network, the organization he founded, did not immediately announce Robertson’s cause of death. “Pat Robertson dedicated his life to preaching the Gospel, helping those in need, and educating the next generation,” the company said.

He was one of the most prominent and influential Christian broadcasters and entrepreneurs in the United States, serving as both a religious leader and a culture warrior.

In addition to his religious endeavors, Robertson was a visionary businessman. He transformed a small Virginia television station into a religious broadcasting powerhouse, blending fiery ideology with 20th-century entertainment technology. His success inspired other conservative Christians to take to the airwaves as well.

Robertson created the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), which became home to the talk show “The 700 Club.” He also founded the Christian Coalition, a group that played a crucial role in mobilizing American evangelicals into a conservative political bloc and became one of the cornerstones of the modern Republican Party.

During the 1980s, when social conservatism was on the rise, Robertson reached the peak of his national celebrity. He ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, ultimately losing to George H.W. Bush. Nevertheless, he remained influential within the GOP, rallying conservative Christians behind George W. Bush and Donald Trump.

Throughout his career, Robertson frequently faced intense scrutiny for his political views and inflammatory public comments, earning a reputation as a right-wing provocateur.

In his 1988 presidential bid, he faced criticism for potentially embellishing his military service record. Marine veterans claimed that Robertson, the son of a politician, used political influence to avoid combat duty, but Robertson denied the allegations.

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Robertson and fellow televangelist Jerry Falwell faced harsh condemnation for appearing to blame abortion doctors, feminists, gay people, and the American Civil Liberties Union.

In 2010, Robertson came under fire for falsely claiming that the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti that year was caused by enslaved Black people who made a “pact with the Devil” in the 18th century during their fight for liberation from French colonizers.

Marion Gordon Robertson was born on March 22, 1930, in Lexington, Virginia. His father, Absalom Willis Robertson, served in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate.

After graduating from Washington and Lee University in 1950, Robertson became a reservist in the U.S. Marine Corps and later served in active duty for approximately two years during the Korean War. He earned a law degree from Yale University in 1955.

In the years that followed, Robertson experienced a transformative religious awakening. He studied at New York Theological Seminary and graduated in 1959, becoming an ordained Southern Baptist minister in 1961.

That same year, Robertson purchased a bankrupt UHF television station in Portsmouth, Virginia, which he renamed the Christian Broadcasting Network. The channel went live on the air on October 1, 1961, when Robertson was 31 years old.

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Five years later, CBN began production on “The 700 Club,” a show that became synonymous with the channel and one of the signature Christian-themed shows on American television. (Originally hosted by popular televangelist Jim Bakker, who left CBN in 1972.)

Robertson expanded CBN into a powerful entity and a go-to destination for politicians seeking support from religious conservatives. According to the network, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and Donald Trump were among the guests who appeared on the channel.

CBN’s influence grew with the establishment of CBN University, a private Christian institution that opened its doors to students in 1978. The school’s name was changed to Regent University twelve years later.

In the 1980s, Robertson became more deeply involved in politics. He sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, running against establishment figures George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole, the party’s presidential nominee in 1996.

During his campaign, Robertson focused on social issues at the core of the modern conservative movement. He vocally opposed abortion rights, supported school prayer, and stood against progressive culture.

Robertson’s campaign started off strongly with a second-place finish in the Iowa caucuses, but it eventually fizzled out. He won only four statewide nominating contests before withdrawing from the race. George H.W. Bush secured the nomination and went on to win the presidency. Robertson had endorsed Bush’s candidacy and spoke at the party convention in August.

Robertson continued to leave his mark on Republican politics and the American political landscape. The year after his failed presidential bid, he launched the Christian Coalition, a political advocacy group that advanced his goals and played a role in the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994.

In 2002, Robertson left the Christian Coalition, and five years later, he stepped down as the chief executive of CBN, passing the position to his son, Gordon Robertson. Pat Robertson continued to host “The 700 Club” until 2021.

In recent years, Robertson remained a prominent figure within the Christian right, enjoying support from conservative audiences. He prayed for Trump’s victory in the 2016 election and characterized those who opposed his candidacy as “revolting against what God’s plan is for America.”

At times, Robertson deviated from the conservative party line on specific issues. For example, he called for an end to mandatory prison sentences for marijuana possession convictions, stating that “we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol.”

After Joe Biden defeated Trump in the 2020 presidential election, Robertson appeared to diverge from much of the conservative movement. Reportedly, he criticized the former president for residing in an “alternate reality” and urged him to “move on.”

Robertson’s wife, Dede Robertson, passed away in April of the previous year at the age of 94.

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