Legendary evangelist the Rev. Pat Robertson, who built a small Virginia radio station into a vast religious broadcasting network and even ran for president over a career that spanned more than six decades, has died at age 93.
Robertson’s death was announced early Thursday by his Christian Broadcasting Network. No cause was given.
Born Marion Gordon Robertson, he was the son of Absalom Willis Robertson, who for 36 years served Virginia in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. After graduating from Washington and Lee University, he served as assistant adjutant of the 1st Marine Division in Korea before graduating from Yale Law School.
Robertson became a powerful force among conservative Christians, hosting the popular “700 Club” television show and the Christian Coalition that he founded. His backing was routinely courted by Republican politicians, and in 1988, he ran for president himself.
Although he lost the White House bid to George H.W. Bush, he placed second in the Iowa caucuses, propelled by support from the state’s evangelicals and a savvy strategy of turning petitions to get him to run into a formidable ground game..
″He asked people to pledge that they’d work for him, pray for him and give him money,” Hadden, a University of Virginia sociologist, told The Associated Press in 1988. ″Political historians may view it as one of the most ingenious things a candidate ever did.″
In addition to the Christian Coalition, which he founded in 1989, Robertson also established Regent University, an evangelical Christian school in Virginia Beach; the American Center for Law and Justice, which defends the First Amendment rights of religious people; and Operation Blessing, an international humanitarian organization.