Pat Robertson evolves to show some sense

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It seems a lifetime ago that televangelist Pat Robertson told viewers of "The 700 Club," his long-running telethon for false prophecy, that God had already revealed to him who the winner of the 2012 presidential election would be.

Giggling mischievously last January and reading notes jotted down during his off-the-record chats with the Lord, the televangelist refused to name the winner, but he did lambaste President Barack Obama with a catalog of God's complaints about how he was running things.

Fast forward to a few days before the election and the facade of coyness had been dropped. Pat Robertson, like his cohorts in the right-wing media entertainment complex, was predicting not just a Romney win, but a landslide.

The religious broadcaster's confidence that Mr. Obama would be defeated was based upon inside dope God personally whispered in his ear earlier this year, not the criminally wishful thinking of hacks at Fox News and the Drudge Report.

When things didn't quite turn out the way the Lord promised, Mr. Robertson was gracious enough to shift the blame from God and back to himself. "So many of us missed [God's message]," he said during a recent broadcast of the show.

"I won't get into great detail about the election, but I sure did miss it," he confessed. "I thought I heard clearly from God. ... You ask God, 'How did I miss it?' Well, we all [miss it] and I have a lot of practice."

Pat Robertson, like a lot of Republicans, has begun taking the GOP's trouncing at the polls as an opportunity to shake up long-dead orthodoxies. Though known for going off the rails occasionally (like calling for the decriminalization of marijuana), Mr. Robertson rarely abandons a core principle of right-wing American Christendom.

While answering a question posed by a viewer about the Bible's silence on the existence of dinosaurs, Mr. Robertson shocked many of his more gullible viewers recently by mocking the idea that the Earth is 6,000 years old and that humans and dinosaurs coexisted.

"Look, I know that people will probably try to lynch me when I say this, but Bishop [James] Ussher wasn't inspired by the Lord when he said that it all took 6,000 years," Mr. Robertson said, throwing the controversial 17th-century Archbishop of Ireland under the bus for calculating the age of the Earth based on the genealogies recorded in Genesis and Matthew's gospel.

"You go back in time, you've got radiocarbon dating," he said. "You got all these things and you've got the [fossils] of dinosaurs frozen in time out in the Dakotas. They're out there. So, there was a time when these giant reptiles were on the Earth and it was before the time of the Bible. So, don't try and go cover it up and make like everything was 6,000 years. That's not the Bible."

It may not have been visible, but jaws dropped all across the Bible Belt when Pat Robertson made that unexpected concession to reality. For decades, "The 700 Club" has been an evolution-free zone, so there was no precedent for Mr. Robertson kicking "young Earth" creationists to the curb.

Even though Mr. Robertson thinks creationism is nonsense, the movement's literature is promoted and sold by his broadcast network because there's no way legitimate science is going to trump godly profit if that's what the rubes want.

"If you fight science," he said, grinning like the illegitimate spawn of Charles Darwin he turns out to be, "you're going to lose your children, and I believe in telling it the way it was."

The electoral humbling of the GOP is beginning to have unexpected seismic effects across the board. The growing apostasy among Republican officeholders about the idiocy of adhering to Grover Norquist's tax pledge is opening the political process to compromise for the first time in years.

Consequently, truth-telling is becoming a Republican tactic of late. Promise Keepers founder Bill McCartney acknowledged the existence of white privilege and urged American society and the church to repent. Jim Greer, the former Florida Republican Party chairman, confessed this week that his party passed a law in Florida to curtail early voting in an attempt to suppress Democratic votes.

If Pat Robertson or someone like Fox's Sean Hannity finally endorses the science behind global warming, that will be the sign that the Apocalypse has arrived, with bells on.

tonynorman

Tony Norman: tnorman@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1631. Twitter: @TonyNormanPG.


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