I am very rarely as suprised by the excesses of the radical political right as I am saddened by their decisions or actions. Today is an exception to that rule.
According to this FOX News article Pat Robertson, of 700 club fame, has called on U.S. operatives to assasinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
And for what reason? Human rights violations? Nope. According to the article it’s in order to prevent him from turning Venezuela into “a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism.”
Does this rattle anyone else’s cage as badly as it does mine?
Remember that Robertson is a professing believer, the founder of numerous nationwide “ministries” (I’m not familiar enough with the individual institutions to give an accurate assesment of whether or not they do any ministry) and -for better or worse- one of the faces of the evangelical political movement.
Yet here we have him calling for the death of another human being over what amounts to a difference of politcal opinion. Read these quotes , reportedly from a broadcast of Robertson’s 700 club:
(Note: these quotes were pulled from the articles linked to above and below. I cite them in the order they appear in the respective articles and cannot know if they were spoken in the order I quote them. I was unable to find a transcript of the show and look forward to seeing one published for review. Also, the bolded emphasis is entirely mine. I use it to draw attention to the part of the comments I have the greatest problem with)
“We don’t need another $200 billion war to get rid of one strong-arm dictator,” he said. “It’s a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with….You know, I don’t know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it…It’s a whole lot cheaper than starting a war … and I don’t think any oil shipments will stop.”
Honestly, I might be behind Robertson if he had called for Chavez’s ouster. I wouldn’t have wanted it spoken from the pulpits of our churches but I could probably have gotten on board with the position ideologically. But to call for the man’s assasination? How entirely contradictory to the teachings of Scripture.
I don’t think Robertson has left himself any room to play the “my words have been taken out of context” card. I suppose he can say that he made the comments in jest. Then he should know better, especially considering his years of experience treading the waters of political activism. We’re forced to take Robertson’s words at face value, considering his clear statement in favor of Chavez’s assasination.
I suppose the most charitable motivation we could assume for Robertson’s comments is the idea that removing Chavez now would prevent unnecessary deaths if Venezuela did indeed become “a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism.” However, when the possibility of removal exists (as was executed in regards to Saddam Hussein), wouldn’t forceful removal be a superior strategy for accomplishing the desired ends?
Purely from a politically conservative position I can legitimately denounce these comments. First, Robertson’s reference to a “$200 Billion dollar war to get rid of one strong-arm dictator” only serves to perpetuate the mistaken notion that those of us who support the war in Iraq should support the immediate, forcible removal of all dictators. Secondly, Robertson’s reference to “oil shipments” conjures up the old ghost that the war with Iraq was more about the control of crude oil than anything else. In saying what he did, Robertson has armed the enemies of his political stance.
Now, as a Christian, his comments turn my stomach because someone who is publically identified with the name of Christ would call for an action so blatently unGodly (said as one under the conviction that God’s moral law reflects His character and thus any violation of that law is an attack on God.)
I can say this as one who is firmly entrenched in a pro-capital punishment position without any contradiction. I won’t go into that position but I will simply note that Robertson called for the death of Chavez not because the Venezuelan had commited any attrocities against common society but merely because he might do so in the future (or create a situation coducive to such attrocities.)
Noting that Robertson’s words do not speak for all within the evangelical political right I do cite those words of the clearest example of why I have a problem with that particular branch of religious/politcal life in our country. Secondary issues (political ideas/agendas) are displacing the Gospel of Jesus Christ and, in this case, those same political ideas & agendas are removing the moral restraints God placed on His people, regardless of their political affiliations.
A further problem is that actions such as this one, given that they occur on such a public scale, hurt the cause of legitimate evangelization and (more importantly I might add) the name of Christ & His church. Is there any way Robertson’s comments don’t contribute to the “Christians are hypocrites” mantra of many in our society? Especially, considering they come from the same ones who denounce Islamic Jihad as unnaturally brutal and barbaric.
I find it hard to close this post well. All I know to say to Robertson (as if he’ll ever read this blog) is please repent. And make the confession of your repentance as broad (as you have power) as your transgression. I doubt any recantation of these comments will get as much airtime as the comments themselves did. Still, it’s a start.
And to those involved in the political process as a believer – please be on guard against allowing yourselves to fall into such contradictions. Your life in Christ must dominate & inform every other area of your being, not vice-versa. By all means speak to culture as “ambassadors for Christ” but do so in line with what he has revealed in His word.