Pat Robertson, the iconic and influential voice of conservative Christianity, is stepping down as the host of the 700 Club following a career spanning six decades.
Robertson, 91, announced on Friday’s show that it would be his last as host of the flagship program on Christian Broadcast Network, which he launched 60 years ago to the day.
‘Today’s show will be my final as host of the 700 Club,’ Robertson said, although he vowed to return from time to time, if he has a ‘revelation’ he needs to share.
‘I thank God for everyone that’s been involved. And I want to thank all of you,’ he said.
Robertson’s son Gordon will take over as the program’s full-time host, and Robertson will turn his attention to teaching students at Regent University, which he founded in 1977.
Pat Robertson, 91, announced on Friday’s broadcast of the 700 Club that it would be his last as host of the flagship program on Christian Broadcast Network
Robertson has long been a powerful figure in conservative Christianity, and even ran unsuccessfully president in 1988 (seen above)
Robertson has long been a powerful figure in conservative Christianity, and even ran unsuccessfully president in 1988, seeking the Republican nomination in a longshot bid against incumbent George H.W. Bush.
Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network started airing on October 1, 1961 after he bought a bankrupt UHF television station in Portsmouth, Virginia. The 700 Club began production in 1966.
Now based in Virginia Beach, CBN says its outreach extends to more than 100 countries and territories in dozens of languages through TV and video evangelism, online ministry and prayer centers.
The 700 Club talk show can be seen in the vast majority of U.S. television markets.
‘Pat Robertson had an enormous impact on both American religion and American politics,’ said John C. Green, an emeritus political science professor at The University of Akron.
One of Robertson´s innovations with the 700 Club was to use the secular talk-show format, which was a break from more traditional broadcasts of revival meetings or church services.
Television evangelist and conservative political activist Pat Robertson poses in the control room for his 700 Club TV show in 1985, Robertson’s CBN started airing on October 1, 1961
Pat Robertson campaigns for president in 1988 at poster adorned podium, amid flurry of snowflakes, in front of his campaign bus
He ran for president in 1988, seeking to ban pornography and amend the Constitution to require a balanced federal budget
‘Here’s a well educated person having sophisticated conversations with a wide variety of guests on a wide variety of topics,’ Green said. ‘It was with a religious inflection to be sure. But it was an approach that took up everyday concerns.’
Robertson attracted a large audience and went on to have several U.S. presidents as guests, including Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump, the network said.
Robertson was the son of a U.S. senator and received a law degree from Yale. He ran for president in 1988, seeking to ban pornography and amend the Constitution to require a balanced federal budget.
He also founded the Christian Coalition, galvanizing American evangelicals into a conservative political force.
‘He opened up a path that many people have followed,’ Green said.
‘Surveys show that lots and lots of people view – in one format or another – religious broadcasting these days. But in politics, I think what he did was help cement the alliance between conservative Christians and the Republican Party.’
As 700 Club host, Robertson sometimes found himself in hot water for his on-air pronouncements.
American religious broadcaster Pat Robertson (left) stands with American senator Bob Dole as they appear together on Capitol Hill in a bid to push for Republican Party unity in 1988
Pat Robertson speaks at the Christian Coalition’s annual meeting on September 9, 1995 in Washington D.C.
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 struck them because they voted out school board members who favored teaching ‘intelligent design.’
Less than two weeks after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005, killing 1,836, Robertson suggested that the storm was God’s punishment for America’s policies on abortion.
But Robertson also struck a compassionate tone by calling for ending mandatory prison sentences for marijuana possession convictions. He later said on ‘The 700 Club’ that marijuana should be legalized and treated like alcohol because the government´s war on drugs had failed.
After President Trump lost to Joe Biden in 2020, Robertson said Trump was living in an ‘alternate realty’ and should ‘move on,’ news outlets reported.
Robertson will still appear on a monthly, interactive episode of The 700 Club and will come on the program ‘occasionally as news warrants,’ the network said.
Gordon Robertson, 63, is a Yale-educated former real estate lawyer who is less well-known than his father, and less controversial, if at all.
Evangelical Christian leader Pat Robertson takes his seat onstage ahead of a campaign rally with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Virginia Beach in 2012
Donald Trump acknowledges the audience after speaking with Pat Robertson at a presidential campaign event at Regents University in Virginia Beach, Virginia February 24, 2016
Robertson is seen in 2020. He vowed to return to the 700 Club from time to time, if he has a ‘revelation’ he needs to share
Gordon is chief executive of CBN and has served as executive producer of the ‘700 Club’ for 20 years, and even longer as a co-host. He’s also been hosting a show called ‘700 Club Interactive.’
He told The Associated Press on Friday that viewers should expect little to change about the show, which airs live from 9am to 10am on weekdays.
The younger Robertson said he hopes to host politicians from both sides of the aisle, while focusing 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 get 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 people in need. When disasters strike, let´s strike back with love and compassion.’