It’s a Pride Month miracle! Pat Robertson is dead.
Oh, I’m sorry. Is that in poor taste?
Just kidding. I’m not sorry.
Look, I know that people believe you’re not supposed to speak ill of the dead, and you’re certainly not to celebrate someone’s death. But I’m not one of those people. Especially when it comes to people who dedicated their careers and lives to speaking ill of me and my family, not to mention LGBTQ+ people worldwide, and who founded the Christian Coalition which helped to shift Republicans hard toward the right in order to transform right-wing Christian beliefs into public policy.
As People For the American Way President Svante Myrick put it, “Pat Robertson was a key figure in the rise of the authoritarian religious-right political movement. He helped build the movement’s massive media, legal, and political infrastructure, which today is pushing harmful attacks on the freedom to learn, LGBTQ+ equality, reproductive choice, church-state separation and more.”
In other words, he was not exactly a person who made the world better. He used his religion to perpetuate him. So fuck that guy.
The list of heinous things Robertson has said about LGBTQ+ people is very, very long. But the length of this column is not. The Advocate has a good roundup of his comments, as does Right Wing Watch. Here are my highlights:
There’s this gem from a 1992 fundraising letter, which has become a meme: “The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”
In the 1990s, he said, “Many of those people involved with Adolf Hitler were Satanists, many of them were homosexuals. The two things seem to go together.”
In 1998, Robertson freaked out about Gay Days at Disney World and said, “I would warn Orlando that you’re right in the way of some serious hurricanes, and I don’t think I’d be waving those flags in God’s face if I were you.”
In 2001, he and fellow right-wing bigot Jerry Falwell blamed gays and lesbians for 9/11. On “The 700 Club,” Falwell said, “I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen.’” In response, Robertson said, “I totally concur, and the problem is we have adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government.”
After the Pulse shooting in 2016, Robertson said that leftists were really to blame for the massacre because they didn’t hate Muslims enough. “The fact that this Islamic gentleman opens fire in a gay nightclub and kills almost 50 homosexuals, that says something and tells the fact that Islam is against homosexuality, so the liberals are going to be scrambling to find some rationale. I think they’re going to have a hard time doing it.” Robertson’s solution? “I think for those of us who disagree with some of their policies, the best thing to do is to sit on the sidelines and let them kill themselves.”
In 2019, Robertson called the Equality Act “a devastating blow to religious freedom and to the sanctity of America.” He continued, “I think God will say, ‘I’ve had it with America, if you do this kind of stuff, I’m going to get rid of you as a nation.’”
In 2020, Robertson agreed with a “700 Club” guest that marriage equality and abortion rights caused God to hit us with the COVID pandemic. “We’ve allowed this terrible plague to spread throughout our society. And it’s a small wonder God would hold us guilty. But the answer is, you know, you confess your sins and forsake them. Then he heals the land. It’s not before. You are right.”
And yet, here we are, still existing as a nation. Granted, we’re not in great shape. Folks like Robertson have been sewing hatred and division for decades. For longer than I have been alive. And that hatred is thriving in the Republican Party, which has decided that the greatest threat to the United States is that trans kids exist and have dedicated themselves to punishing them and anyone who loves them.
So, yeah, I’m not crying over Pat Robertson. He was the impetus for so much suffering. I can only hope that at the end, he suffered, too. I say, with as much authority as he had, that God would have wanted it that way. OK, I don’t believe in God. But if Robertson taught me anything, it’s that God is a hell of a weapon.
D’Anne Witkowski is a writer living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBTQ+ politics for nearly two decades. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.