Donald Trump has had a rough week. A New York Times report (and several self-incriminating tweeted screenshots) revealed that the slightly greasier of his two large adult sons, Don Jr. got a little too involved with the Russians last summer. The same went for Jared Kushner and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort. The president has not made a public appearance in days.
It’s natural that a person who feels under siege would seek the comfort of a sympathetic audience, and Trump has always been an avoidant baby when it comes to facing adversarial members of the press. So on Tuesday, he sat down with famed evangelical Pat Robertson for an interview. It’s an interesting choice.
For those who don’t know Robertson, he is the living incarnation of Donald Trump Jr.’s conspiracy and impotent spittle-sprayed Twitter feed, with a healthy dash of hellfire to boot. If there were a hall of fame for American wingnuttery, Pat Robertson would be inducted into its inaugural class, and every time he gets another go as a go-to Christian voice, some publication or another gives readers a refresher course on his greatest hits.
And there are many. Since 1966, he’s co-hosted The 700 Club, his Christian Broadcasting Network’s flagship show. He’s also a prolific writer, pundit, and occasional political candidate who has used these mediums to push the envelope of what’s socially acceptable or, really, sane. If you didn’t know any better, you might think the guy was doing it for the attention.
Robertson has classified Hinduism and Islam, religions practiced by 2.7 billion people globally, as demonic. In his 1991 book The New World Order, he claimed that the world is controlled by the Illuminati, Masons, and a massive Jewish conspiracy. He’s referred to non-Christians as “viruses” and “termites,” characterizations that I’m not sure Donald Trump’s daughter and son-in-law, who are Jewish, likely appreciate.
Robertson engaged in business dealings with Liberian despot Charles Taylor, a war criminal and alleged blood diamond kingpin who used child soldiers and was known to engage in rape. One of Robertson’s hustles, the African Development Company, worked with Zaire dictator (and war criminal) Mobutu Sese Seku to develop a diamond mine. Robertson insisted it was all above board, but a 2013 film on his charity Operation Blessing sure makes it sound like the man of God was using his charity for scammy purposes. Jesus is his savior, but diamonds are his best friend.
Robertson’s views on feminism are a lot of fun. In an anti-Equal Rights Amendment letter he sent to Iowa voters in 1992, he wrote that the belief that women and men should be given equal rights and opportunities is “a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”
In 2012, he jokingly told a caller to The 700 Club that said caller should force his unruly wife to respect him by moving to Saudi Arabia and then beating her.
It might shock you, but Robertson’s views on homosexuality are a bit rough too. In 1999, a deal he was working on with a Scottish bank fell through after he claimed that Scotland is a “dark land” overrun by homosexuals. Robertson said earlier this year that gays are “dominating” society. To remedy this, he pledged to work with actor Kevin Sorbo. Why? Guess we’ll find out next award season.
Robertson is fond of blaming disasters and tragedies on unrelated sins like satan-worship, abortion, and sodomy. Shortly after 9/11, he appeared to support Jerry Falwell’s proclamation that the terrorist attack was caused by abortion, gays, and the ACLU. After the Pulse nightclub attack in Orlando that killed dozens, Robertson said that conservatives should just “watch” Muslims and LGBT people “kill each other.” In 2013, Robertson responded to a caller to The 700 Club with the following AIDS diatribe:
“There are laws now... I think the homosexual community has put these draconian laws on the books that prohibit people from discussing this particular affliction. You can tell somebody you had a heart attack, you can tell them they’ve got high blood pressure, but you can’t tell anybody you’ve got AIDS.”
Robertson continued from there. “You know what they do in San Francisco? Some in the gay community there, they want to get people. So if they got the stuff they’ll have a ring, you shake hands and the ring’s got a little thing where you cut your finger,” he said. “Really. It’s that kind of vicious stuff, which would be the equivalent of murder.”
The same year, Robertson warned the legions of Williamsburg hipsters that watch his show that their secondhand thrift store sweaters may be inhabited by demonic spirits. “But I don’t think every sweater you get from Goodwill has demons in it,” he added, sensibly.
In 2002, he bought a racehorse and named it Mr. Pat.
In 2006, he claimed that he leg pressed 2,000 lbs with the aid of a protein shake.
Robertson has predicted future homosexuality-caused disasters. After Disney World hosted a Gay Day in 1998, he warned that God would exact his revenge for the gayness through “hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, terrorist bombs and possibly a meteor.” That year, no hurricanes hit Disney World, but, as a cheeky Wikipedia editor pointed out, one did hit Virginia Beach, which is where Robertson’s The 700 Club started.
Robertson believes that the American God is keen on doling out punishment in the form of hurricanes and other things. He said former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s stroke was divine punishment for ordering his country’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. The 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti, Robertson claims, was caused by a Haitian pact with the devil.
He has predicted that the world would end in 1982… andin 2014... and in 2015. He said he knew for sure that then Senator Jay Rockefeller would be elected president in 1996, that then President Barack Obama would not win reelection in 2012, that God would start knocking off liberal Supreme Court justices in 2005, and that “mass killings” on American soil would take place in 2007.
And now he’s interviewing the President.
Maybe there’s a method to the madness of President Trump inviting one of America’s most illustrious spiritual charlatans into the White House for a serious sit-down.
Maybe Pat Robertson is the only person whose past statements can make the shoutings of Trump’s inner circle seem downright sane.