The New World Order
Reverend Marion Gordon “Pat” Robertson is the founder and leader of the most powerful grass-roots movement in American politics today. The Christian Coalition, a tax-exempt and supposedly nonpartisan institution founded after Robertson’s run for the Republican nomination in 1988, claims over a million members and 1.8 million households on its mailing list. It is, moreover, the central organization of the television evangelist’s empire, which includes the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) and the Family Channel, various radio and television conglomerates, Regent University (formerly CBN University), and the American Center for Law and Justice, a far-right public interest law firm. Robertson’s political and media empire, in turn, is part of an extensive network of US and global television and radio evangelism, seminaries, publishers, and magazines directed largely by Robertson’s political and theological allies—not to mention the largest and most powerful Protestant denomination in the United States, the Southern Baptist church, to which many Christian Coalition members belong.
The Christian Coalition and its allies have achieved more power within the Republican Party than the now moribund trade unions ever had at the height of their influence in the Democratic Party—a fact shown by the nearly complete absence of criticism of Robertson and his followers by moderate as well as conservative Republicans (practically the only exception is Senator Arlen Specter, who is Jewish). The religious right now dominates the Republican Party in more than a dozen states, including the key states of Texas and Florida.
Among the conservative politicians and polemicists who have addressed the Christian Coalition’s “Road to Victory” conferences are Bob Dole, Newt Gingrich, Jack Kemp, Oliver North, William Bennett, William Kristol, Jesse Helms, David Brock, and Dinesh D’Souza. Not only do mainstream conservatives avoid criticizing Robertson and his movement, they rush to their defense in print. When the Anti-Defamation League, in 1994, issued a report critical of the religious right, conservatives like William Bennett, Irving Kristol and his son, William, and Midge Decter denounced the supposed “anti-Christian” and “anti-religious” bias of the ADL and of the media in general. Bennett, for example, has written that “Christians active in politics are now on the receiving end of an extraordinary campaign of bias and prejudice.”1
Ms. Decter, in particular, has come to Robertson’s defense in her article “The ADL vs. the ‘Religious Right”‘ in the September 1994 issue of Commentary. The ADL quoted Robertson as saying at a Christian Broadcasting Network prayer meeting that “Jews were ‘spiritually deaf’ and ‘spiritually blind’ but that in the climactic end times many would be converted.” Defending Robertson, Decter wrote:
Even assuming that these quotes are accurate, they are left hanging without any indication of the specific context in which they were spoken or the larger theological context from which Robertson’s attitude toward Jews derives (a context, incidentally, that helps explain why he is so vehemently pro-Israel).
As we shall see, however, the larger theological “context”…
This is exclusive content for subscribers only.
Get unlimited access to The New York Review for just $1 an issue!
Continue reading this article, and thousands more from our archive, for the low introductory rate of just $1 an issue. Choose a Print, Digital, or All Access subscription.