In Memoriam: Pat Robertson

NRB | June 8, 2023 | Member News

On Monday, June 19, CBN will honor and remember its founder, Pat Robertson, with a memorial service. Watch via livestream on the CBN Family App beginning at 12:00 p.m. EST. 

Long-time NRB member and veteran Christian broadcaster Marion Gordon “Pat” Robertson went to be with the Lord on June 8, 2023.

“Pat Robertson’s influence on the field of Christian television broadcasting cannot be overstated, and we commend his lifetime of leadership in global media ministry and humanitarian outreach,” said NRB President & CEO Troy A. Miller. “We were blessed to have Robertson and CBN as veteran members of the NRB. We send our heartfelt condolences to the Robertson family, and while we mourn his passing, we know that Pat Robertson is now with our Lord and Savior.”

Robertson was born March 22, 1930, in Lexington, Virginia, to A. Willis Robertson and Gladys Churchill Robertson. Pat’s father served thirty-four years in the U.S. House of Representatives and in the U.S. Senate. Robertson’s ancestry traces to notable figures such as Benjamin Harrison, a signatory of the Declaration of Independence and former governor of Virginia, and two United States presidents, William Henry Harrison and Benjamin Harrison, the latter being the great-grandson of the aforementioned Declaration of Independence signer.

After graduating with honors from McCallie School, a military prep school in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Robertson sought further education at Washington and Lee University in 1946. In 1948, Robertson joined the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. After graduating magna cum laude from Washington and Lee with a Bachelor of Arts in 1950, he served as the assistant adjutant of the First Marine Division during the Korean War. Robertson returned to the United States in 1952 and was promoted to first lieutenant. He later earned a juris doctor degree from Yale University Law School in 1955 and a Master of Divinity from New York Theological Seminary in 1959.

Robertson met his wife, Adelia “Dede” Elmer, at Yale in 1952. They eloped, knowing that neither his Southern Baptist nor her Catholic families would approve of the match, and were married by a justice of the peace eighteen months later. With his wife, Dede, and their three children, Robertson departed from New York in November 1959.

Their destination was Tidewater, Virginia, where Robertson aimed to acquire a financially distressed UHF television station in Portsmouth. Despite arriving with a mere seventy dollars, Robertson raised the necessary funds to complete the purchase. As a result, the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) was established on January 11, 1960, and subsequently made its inaugural broadcast on October 1, 1961. CBN emerged as the trailblazing Christian television network in the United States, marking a significant milestone in religious broadcasting history. Today, it has evolved into one of the world’s foremost television ministries, delivering its diverse programming to 200 nations and captivating audiences in 70 languages, encompassing Russian, Arabic, Spanish, French, and Chinese.

For over fifty years, Pat Robertson became a familiar figure in American households through CBN’s renowned television show, The 700 Club. Today, the flagship program can be seen in 97 percent of television markets nationwide and is among the longest-running religious television shows in history.

In addition to CBN, Robertson founded many other influential Christian organizations and entities, including the International Family Entertainment, Regent University, Operation Blessing International Relief and Development Corporation, The Flying Hospital, and others.

Despite falling short in securing the 1988 Republican nomination, Robertson’s civic engagement did not stop there. Robertson significantly expanded his political influence by galvanizing a multitude of evangelicals by establishing the Christian Coalition. Concurrently, with a clear mission to safeguard and uphold religious freedoms, he 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.

Robertson held the position of president of the Council for National Policy. In 1982, he contributed his expertise as a member of President Ronald Reagan’s Task Force on Victims of Crime. Additionally, Robertson has served on the Board of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and held a seat on the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors in the State of Virginia. He assumed the role of president of the Christian Coalition of America until his resignation in late 2001.

A New York Times best-selling author, Robertson authored numerous books, including “The New World Order,” “Shout it from the Housetops,” “The Power of the Holy Spirit in You: Understanding the Miraculous Power of God,” “Answers to 200 of Life’s Most Probing Questions,” “I Have Walked With the Living God,” and many more.

Robertson delivered an address at the 1993 NRB Convention, which celebrated NRB’s 50th anniversary, discussing America’s moral decline, the Gospel’s opposition, and the cultural patterns that marginalize morality from public affairs. He urged broadcasters to unite their audiences, encouraging them to stand firm and pray for a revival that would restore peace to a distressed nation.

Robertson was the recipient of numerous NRB awards, including the 1974 Award of Merit and the 1989 Christian Broadcaster of the Year. In 1986, Robertson was inducted into the NRB Hall of Fame—NRB’s most prestigious award and is presented to an individual NRB member for invaluable contributions to the field of Christian communications, an exhibition of the highest standards of excellence, and evidence of faithfulness to Christ. Robertson served on the NRB Board of Directors from 2003-2006. CBN has been an NRB member since 1968 and has received twenty NRB awards for achievements in media.

NRB members have issued statements in response to Robertson’s passing.

FRANKLIN GRAHAM: “Pat Robertson, a great friend to my father, to me, and to our ministries, has moved to a new address in Heaven. Heaven is real and awaits everyone who puts their faith and trust in God and His Son, Jesus Christ. I will miss Pat, but I know that I will see him again one day. I’m sure that his family would appreciate our prayers.”

TONY PERKINS:  “I am grateful for the vision and courage of Pat Robertson. My first formal introduction into the world of government and political action was in the wake of his run for president and the creation of the Christian Coalition. It was a shaping experience to serve as chairman of the coalition in Baton Rouge many years ago. Pat’s vision and legacy as a man of God and a man of action will live on and continue to inspire.”

SALEM BOOKS: “Salem Books honors the life of author and communication pioneer Pat Robertson upon his entry into his heavenly home. A faithful Christ-follower, Robertson used multiple media channels—from the Christian Broadcasting Network to Regent University, to the many books he authored—to proclaim and share the gospel to millions. We are honored to have been one of his many publishing partners, having worked with him on The Power of the Holy Spirit in You. While we mourn the earthly loss of our friend, we know his legacy will live on for generations. His influence will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, colleagues, and close friends during this time.”

JAY SEKULOW: “Today, we mourn the passing and celebrate the life of Dr. Pat Robertson, who has gone on to be with the Lord. Pat was prolific in his lifetime of ministry, founding the American Center for Law and Justice, Regent University, the Christian Broadcasting Network, and the 700 Club. His incredible accomplishments and example of Christian living are a legacy that will continue to inspire for years to come. Thank you for everything, Pat.”

DR. MICHAEL YOUSSEF: “Pat fought the good fight, finished the race, and now in heaven with his beloved Savior.”

DAVID BRODY: “Pat Robertson was a living legend, and I was honored to know him. He loved the Lord Jesus Christ and now gets to be with HIM for all of eternity! I’m selfishly saddened but forever grateful that he gave me so many wonderful opportunities at CBN, and it was all because he listened and trusted God. Well done, good and faithful servant! Goodbye Pat, and welcome to Heaven!”

Surrounded by family, Robertson passed in his home and is survived by his four children Tim, Elizabeth, Gordon, and Ann; fourteen grandchildren and twenty-four great-grandchildren. Robertson’s beloved wife, Dede, went to be with the Lord on April 19, 2022, at the age of 94.

NRB celebrates the life and legacy of Christian communicator, evangelist, humanitarian, and faithful servant Pat Robertson.

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