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Robertson Profiles

Two publications have profiled evangelist Pat Robertson and offer some important lessons about making sure we avoid verbal gaffes that can make Christians—and thus Christ—look bad. Here are some highlights from the WORLD Magazine article that suggests Robertson is finally learning from his recent mistakes:

But with Regent University public-relations executive Baxter Ennis sitting in on the interview and seeming alarmed, Mr. Robertson said he was taking precautions to avoid more eruptions: Before broadcasts "I didn't use to review the news. Now prior to the air we go over the news stories. ... I now have a former news producer from Good Morning America. I'm going to have an earpiece in my ear ... he's going to be whispering in my ear ... he's going to be in the control room, as the news comes up [he'll say], 'why don't you say this, why don't you suggest this, let's discuss this.'"

Mr. Robertson added, "With these people trying to destroy me I can't step into their trap anymore. ... I have seen an intensity of attack against me that is unparalleled in the 40-some years of the broadcast. ... I've just got to be careful. ... I've just got to be more careful."

... Concerning many other controversial statements, Mr. Robertson noted his enormous number of hours on live television and the impact he has had: "They say when a big ship goes through the water it makes waves, and I'm sure I've made waves. I've said stupid things."

... Overall, the chancellor of Regent University seems hardly ready to leave the stage. He's right not to want to retire, but will he be more retiring in his comments? He noted the 16th president's reluctance to make off-the-cuff speeches and concluded, "If Abraham Lincoln wouldn't give impromptu, maybe Pat Robertson shouldn't be impromptu." At the least, he said, "I will study more and be more reserved."

While other parts of the article reflect the old Pat, it is good to see he is beginning to have some understanding of how he needs to be more careful with his mouth. During the interview Robertson attacked some of his critics and even suggested that maybe one of them (Richard Land) does not believe the Bible. An odd remark since Robertson does not seem to have ever read the warnings of James 3. But if the new and more reserved Pat truly stays, then it will prove that he is finally beginning to believe all of the Bible himself.

The other recent article on Robertson comes from the Los Angeles Times. Here are some highlights:

But lately the charismatic broadcaster is better known for something else — a series of controversial and incendiary remarks that have foisted him into the news. And the limelight has not been flattering.

... But at age 75, and freed from the need to marshal political capital, Robertson seems even less restrained than ever. His verbal grenades sound more like bombs, and even those in the evangelical community are noticing.

... But his reputation appears to have suffered within the conservative Christian movement he helped found about 40 years ago, when he turned a puny UHF station in Portsmouth, Va., into one of the world's largest electronic ministries.

In a sign of fading appeal in the Christian establishment, Robertson canceled a Feb. 21 speech to the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Dallas after the group's leaders suggested his appearance could detract from the event.

Some political observers suggest that Robertson has ratcheted up his rhetoric in an attempt to reclaim his lost mantle as the voice and face of the Christian right

... In interviews, students at Regent University law school said they believed Robertson was a man of God but wished he would be more careful with his public statements, because they thought the school's credibility rose and fell with Robertson's.

... His critics do not contest that he is a man of tremendous faith. But several also spoke of his temper and impulsiveness.

... "Pat is not known in the Christian community for mercy and for love," said Herb Titus, a constitutional lawyer in Virginia and a founding dean at Regent, who ultimately sued Robertson for breach of contract. "You can find just numerous people who came to work and really believed it was a call of God and were dismissed summarily, sometimes just before Christmas."

This article reminds us that even if Robertson does change his tone and starts being more careful with his comments, it will take a long time to repair his image. This is a warning that while a slip of the tongue can destroy one's credibility in just a few moments, it takes a long time to build it back up. Hopefully the World account of Robertson is true and he will eventually be able to avoid stories like the LA Times one.

Thanks to the Christianity Today blog for pointing out the World article and the GetReligion blog for pointing out the LA Times article.

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