VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (June 8, 2023) — Marion Gordon “Pat” Robertson—religious broadcasting pioneer, philanthropist, educator, Christian leader, businessman, and author—died on June 8, 2023 in his home, surrounded by his family. He was 93. His death was announced by The Christian Broadcasting Network.
Dr. Robertson served as the founder and chairman of The Christian Broadcasting Network, Inc. (CBN); co-founder, chancellor, and chief executive officer of Regent University; founder of Operation Blessing Relief and Development Corporation (OB); founder and president of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ); founder and co-chairman of International Family Entertainment, Inc.; and a leading force behind several other influential organizations and broadcast entities. His greatest treasure in life was knowing Jesus Christ and having the privilege of proclaiming Him and His power to others. His life was lived to the glory of God.
Early Life, Education, and Military Service
Pat Robertson was born on March 22, 1930, in Lexington, Virginia, to A. Willis Robertson and Gladys Churchill Robertson. His father served for 34 years in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.
After graduating with honors from McCallie School, a military prep school in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Mr. Robertson entered Washington and Lee University in 1946, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. In 1948, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. After graduating magna cum laude from Washington and Lee in 1950, Robertson served as the assistant adjutant of the First Marine Division in Korea. He was promoted to first lieutenant in 1952 upon his return to the United States. Mr. Robertson received a J.D. from Yale Law School in 1955 and his M.Div. from New York Theological Seminary in 1959.
In 1954, he married Adelia “Dede” Elmer Robertson. They were married 67 years before she predeceased him on April 19, 2022, at the age of 94. Together they had four children: Timothy Brian Robertson of Virginia Beach, Virginia; Elizabeth Robertson Robinson of Dallas, Texas; Gordon Perry Robertson of Chesapeake, Virginia; Ann Robertson LeBlanc of Portsmouth, Virginia; plus 14 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren.
In 1959, Mr. Robertson moved his family to Tidewater, Virginia, with just $70 and a vision of establishing the first Christian television network in the United States. Although he didn’t even own a TV, he filed incorporation papers for The Christian Broadcasting Network, Inc., then raised funds to purchase a defunct UHF station. On October 1, 1961, CBN began broadcasting from WYAH-TV in Portsmouth, Virginia. At the time, its signal barely reached the city limits, recalled his son Gordon Robertson, CBN’s president and CEO.
The ministry’s scope grew exponentially over the decades, reaching viewers across America and around the globe through television broadcasts, cable, satellite, the internet, and other media. Today, CBN is one of the world’s largest evangelistic ministries, proclaiming the Good News in over 100 countries and dozens of languages, including Russian, Arabic, Spanish, French, and Chinese.
CBN’s flagship program grew out of a telethon in 1963, when Mr. Robertson asked a “club” of 700 viewers to give $10 a month. In 1966, The 700 Club program was created, airing each weekday with interviews, prayer and ministry. Today, it is one of the longest-running religious television programs in America. He hosted the daily program until October 1, 2021, the sixtieth anniversary of CBN’s first broadcast, when he announced that Gordon Robertson would be the show’s new full-time host. Over the years, Mr. Robertson’s co-hosts included Ben Kinchlow, Sheila Walsh, Gordon Robertson, Terry Meeuwsen, and Wendy Griffith.
Throughout its broadcast history, The 700 Club and CBN News have covered national and international events and issues, including key elections, the COVID-19 pandemic, the war on terror, Israel, and the Middle East. Guests have included former Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and Donald Trump; key congressional leaders from both parties; as well as a “Who’s Who” of world and national figures, journalists, professional athletes, celebrities, and pundits.
In 1977, Mr. Robertson incorporated CBN University, and classes began in 1978. Later renamed Regent University, the school quickly became a leading academic center for Christian thought and action, and now has over 30,000 alumni. Today, thousands of students take classes on its Virginia Beach campus and online around the world.
With the mission of “Christian leadership to change the world,” Regent University offers associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in numerous disciplines and holds accreditations from bodies including the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. U.S. News & World Report has listed Regent among the top national universities four years in a row.
Distinguished faculty and lecturers have included John Ashcroft, former U.S. Attorney General; Vern Clark, former Chief of Naval Operations; Steve Forbes, president and CEO of Forbes, Inc.; Justice Samuel Alito, U.S. Supreme Court; and Michelle Bachmann, former U.S. Congresswoman.
Operation Blessing was established by Mr. Robertson in 1978 as a nonprofit organization with a mission “to demonstrate God’s love by alleviating human need and suffering in the United States and around the world.” Its programs focus on the primary goals of providing hunger relief, clean water, medical aid, and disaster assistance to help break the cycle of suffering for those in need.
Operation Blessing has provided relief aid in the aftermath of numerous disasters across America and around the globe, including the COVID-19 pandemic, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and fires. Since its founding, Operation Blessing has touched the lives of millions of people in America and around the world.
The American Center for Law and Justice
In 1990, Mr. Robertson founded the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a public interest law firm and education group that defends the First Amendment rights of people of faith. Focusing on pro-family, pro-liberty, and pro-life issues, the ACLJ has argued before the Supreme Court and won several high-profile religious freedom cases.
A prolific and New York Times best-selling author, Mr. Robertson wrote 24 books, including The Secret Kingdom, Answers to 100 of Life’s Most Probing Questions, and The New World Order, which were each the number one religious book in America in the year of their respective publication.
His other books include the autobiographical works Shout It From the Housetops and I Have Walked With the Living God; along with My Prayer for You, Maximum Security, Beyond Reason: How Miracles Can Change Your Life, America’s Dates With Destiny, The Plan, The New Millennium, The Turning Tide, The End of the Age, Steps to Revival, Bring It On, The Ten Offenses, Courting Disaster, Miracles Can Be Yours Today, The Greatest Virtue, Right on the Money, Successful Families and Finances in the Secret Kingdom, The Power of the Holy Spirit in You, and The Shepherd King, scheduled to be released in May 2023.
In 1986, Mr. Robertson announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination for president of the United States on a conservative platform. While he enjoyed some success in the early primaries, he eventually placed third. At the 1988 Republican Convention, Mr. Robertson endorsed Vice President George H. W. Bush, who won the nomination and the presidency.
Organizations, Awards and Honors
Mr. Robertson was a past president of the Council on National Policy. In 1982, he served on President Ronald Reagan’s Task Force on Victims of Crime. He previously served on the Board of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and on the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors in the State of Virginia. Mr. Robertson founded and served as a president of the Christian Coalition of America until his resignation in 2001.
Over the years, numerous officials and groups have recognized Mr. Robertson’s achievements, including: Humanitarian of the Year in 1982 by the Food for the Hungry organization; Man of the Year in 1988 by Students for America; Christian Broadcaster of the Year in 1989 by the National Religious Broadcasters; one of America’s 100 Cultural Elite in 1992 by Newsweek magazine; the Cross of Nails award in 2000 for his vision, inspiration and humanitarian work with The Flying Hospital; and the Distinction in Ministry Award in 2009 from New York Theological Seminary.
In 2013, he received the Winston Churchill Lifetime Achievement Award, the first of its kind awarded by the Faith & Freedom Coalition in Washington, DC. And in 2017, he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 25th Silver Anniversary Movieguide Awards in Hollywood, California, having served on the Board of Reference for their Christian Film & Television Commission since 2010.
In honor of his support for Israel, Mr. Robertson received the Defender of Israel Award in 1994 from the Christians’ Israel Public Action Campaign; the State of Israel Friendship Award in 2002 by the Chicago chapter of the Zionist Organization of America; and a Lifetime Achievement Award for Support of Israel in 2008 by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.