Pat Robertson's History of Terrible, Vile Anti-LGBTQ+ Statements
Pat Robertson's Long History of Homophobia
One of the chief things for which televangelist Pat Robertson will be remembered is his long record of anti-LGBTQ+ statements.
Robertson, who died Thursday at age 93, was the founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network and host of its long-running program The 700 Club, which he used to spew homophobia and transphobia. He also founded the Christian Coalition, representing religious conservative viewpoints in politics, and sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1988. He played a large role in turning the Republican Party rightward.
One of his most infamous comments was that LGBTQ+ people and supporters of abortion rights were to blame for the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 — something he had to backtrack on. But he made many other outrageous remarks, such as saying feminism turns women into lesbians and that gay men wear special rings to transmit HIV. Here’s a roundup of Robertson’s worst.
Nazis Were Gay, Feminists Are Witches
In 1990, Robertson claimed that many of the supporters of Adolf Hitler were gay, when in fact Hitler and his Nazi government persecuted LGBTQ+ people, especially gay men, sending many to concentration camps. On The 700 Club, he said homosexuality “is a pathology,” and he continued, “It is a sickness, and it needs to be treated. … Many of those people involved with Adolf Hitler were Satanists, many of them were homosexuals. The two things seem to go together.”
A fundraising letter sent out under his signature in 1992 included this language: “The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” Some observers quickly pointed out that being a lesbian or a witch isn’t a bad thing.
Gays Cause Natural Disasters, Terrorist Attacks, and Nuclear War
In 1998, as Disney World in Florida was hosting Gay Days, Robertson said the city of Orlando was inviting hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorism, “and possibly a meteor” by allowing the display of rainbow flags. “I would warn Orlando that you’re right in the way of some serious hurricanes, and I don’t think I’d be waving those flags in God’s face if I were you,” he said. However, none of those catastrophes happened.
Then in 2001, he and fellow homophobic televangelist Jerry Falwell joined to blame gays, abortion, and liberalism in general for 9/11. “I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen,’” Falwell said as a guest on The 700 Club. Robertson replied, “I totally concur, and the problem is we have adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government.” Within a few days, Falwell apologized for the comment, and Robertson issued a statement saying he did not fully understand Falwell’s remark and calling it “severe and harsh in tone.”
But Robertson obviously hadn’t had a change of heart. In 2016, when 49 people were killed at Pulse, an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Orlando, by a shooter who’d pledged allegiance to a radical form of Islam, he said the nation should just let LGBTQ+ people and Muslims kill each other. “The left is having a dilemma of major proportions, and I think for those of us who disagree with some of their policies, the best thing to do is to sit on the sidelines and let them kill themselves,” he said.
Three years later, he said the Equality Act, a sweeping LGBTQ+ rights bill pending in Congress, could bring nuclear war if passed. “This is a devastating blow to religious freedom and to the sanctity of America,” he said. “If you want to bring the judgment of God on this nation, you just keep this stuff up. ... I think God will say, ‘I’ve had it with America, if you do this kind of stuff, I’m going to get rid of you as a nation.’” He went on to warn of “the potential of atomic war” and the possibility of an attack on the nation’s electric grid.
AIDS Crisis Fueled by Rings and Towels
Robertson made many bizarre and false statements about AIDS and the virus that causes it, HIV. In 2013, he claimed gay men in cities such as San Francisco would deliberately infect others with HIV by wearing rings that cut other people when they shook hands. “Really, it’s vicious stuff, which would be the equivalent of murder,” he said on The 700 Club.
He reiterated the remark in a statement released a few days later. “In my own experience,” he said, “our organization sponsored a meeting years ago in San Francisco where trained security officers warned me about shaking hands because, in those days, certain AIDS-infected activists were deliberately trying to infect people like me by virtue of rings which would cut fingers and transfer blood. I regret that my remarks had been misunderstood, but this often happens because people do not listen to the context of remarks which are being said. In no [way] were my remarks meant as an indictment of the homosexual community or, for that fact, to those infected with this dreadful disease.” Oh, sure.
The following year, he advised a missionary worried about contracting the Ebola virus in Kenya that he should be more concerned about HIV and AIDS — and using towels. “You might get AIDS in Kenya,” Robertson said. “The people have AIDS. You gotta be careful. I mean, the towels could have AIDS. There are things — there are diseases in Africa.”
Marriage Equality, Financial Crisis, and COVID
Robertson railed against marriage equality for eons. After New York State adopted a marriage equality law in 2011, he warned it would be Sodom and Gomorrah all over again. “I think we need to remember the term sodomy came from a town known as Sodom, and Sodom was destroyed by God Almighty, and the thing that they practiced was homosexual activity and even they tried to rape angels who came down there, so that’s the kind of people they were,” he said.
He continued, “There isn’t one single civilization that has survived that had openly embraced homosexuality. So you say, ‘What’s going to happen to America?’ Well, if history is any guide, the same thing’s going to happen to us. We’re on a slippery slope and it’s going to kick over in a hurry. We’re looking at financial problems of huge magnitude.”
In 2015, after the Supreme Court ruled for national marriage equality, he said bestiality and polygamy would be legalized next. “Watch what happens, love affairs between men and animals are going to be absolutely permitted,” he said. “Polygamy, without question, is going to be permitted. And it will be called a right.” He also again predicted a global financial crisis.
And in 2020, he blamed marriage equality for the COVID-19 pandemic. A 700 Club viewer asked him about COVID and how the U.S. could heal when it allows abortion and same-sex marriage. Robertson replied, “We are not turning when we have done terrible things. We have broken the covenant that God made with the mankind. We have violated his covenant. We have taken the life of the innocent, slaughtered them by the tens of millions. Children made in the image of God. And we have abused the poor. I mean, we’ve allowed this terrible plague to spread throughout our society. And it's a small wonder God would hold us guilty. But the answer is, you know, you confess your sins and forsake them. Then he heals the land. It’s not before. You are right.”
Transgender Equality Will Bring Nuclear War Too
In 2016, Robertson said advancing the rights of transgender people is somehow taking the nation’s attention away from the threat of nuclear war. He voiced concerns (likely overstated) about Iran developing nuclear weapons, then said, “We are facing thermonuclear annihilation and what are we debating in America? What are we debating? Where a little kid goes to the potty. I mean, this is nuts, absolutely nuts. It is crazy.”
He added, “For the United States of America to put the power of the federal government and all of its money and resources behind this transgender movement, it is just nothing short of insanity.” In the same episode of The 700 Club, he claimed the acceptance of trans people has come about because women are serving in combat and are no longer considered “the weaker sex.”
In 2013, he had surprisingly said he doesn’t consider being trans a sin. “I think there are men who are in a woman’s body,” he said. “It’s very rare, but it’s true. Or women that are in men’s bodies. And they want a sex change. And that is a very permanent thing, believe me, when you have certain body parts amputated, and you have shot up with various kinds of hormones, it’s a radical procedure. I don’t think there’s any sin associated with that — I don’t condemn somebody for doing that.” However, later the same year, he likened trans women to gelded horses, saying they weren’t really women but just less aggressive men.