Pat Robertson steps down from The 700 Club

Pat Robertson, who turned a tiny Virginia television station into a global religious broadcasting network, is stepping down after a half century running The 700 Club on daily TV, the Chris­tian Broadcasting Network announced on October 1.

Robertson, 91, said in a statement that he had hosted the network’s flagship program for the last time and that his son Gordon Robertson would immediately take over.

Robertson’s CBN started broadcasting on October 1, 1961, after he bought a bankrupt television station in Ports­mouth, Virginia. The 700 Club began production in 1966.

One of Robertson’s innovations with The 700 Club was to use the secular talk-show format, a break from more traditional broadcasts of revival meetings or church services.

As The 700 Club host, Robertson sometimes found himself in hot water for his on-air pronouncements. In 2005, he called for the assassination of Vene­zuelan president Hugo Chávez 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” rather than evolutionary science.

But Robertson also called 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.

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. He is chief executive of CBN and has served as executive producer of The 700 Club for 20 years. He said viewers should expect little to change about the show.

“Let’s feed the poor,” he said. “Let’s clothe the naked. Let’s give shelter to people in need. When disasters strike, let’s strike back with love and compassion.” —Associated Press 

Ben Finley

Ben Finley is an Associated Press correspondent in Norfolk, Virginia.

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