Pat Robertson, host of “The 700 Club” talk show and founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), believes he may be hearing a new call from God: a possible run for the office of President of the United States. With that in mind, Robertson has switched his affiliation from the Democratic to the Republican party; reorganized aspects of his Virginia Beach, Virginia, enterprise; and met with Christian leaders and political organizers nationwide. In an interview with CHRISTIANITY TODAY, Robertson explained why he is considering a political campaign and outlined where he stands on key issues.

In the past, God has directed you to do various things, such as startCBN.Has he given you specific guidance regarding a presidential bid?

I have received a leading similar to what I had when I came to Virginia Beach to start CBN. But running for President is so monumental that I want to check it out with religious leaders and others whose opinions I respect. I’m holding meetings around the country to ask people their opinion, in a sense to confirm what seemingly has been shown to me over the last several years.

One of those meetings was held in Washington, D.C. Who was there?

The participants included Southern Baptist Convention president Charles Stanley; Jimmy Draper, a past-president of the Southern Baptist Convention; Ed Young, pastor of Second Baptist Church in Houston; Campus Crusade for Christ president Bill Bright; D. James Kennedy, senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; E. V. Hill, pastor of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles; Jerry Falwell, president of Moral Majority; and Tim LaHaye, head of the American Coalition for Traditional Values. We also had a couple of representatives from Hispanic churches.

Did they encourage you to run?

The emotion was mixed. The only negative feeling expressed was that going from the job I now hold into any secular, political job would be a demotion.

The consensus was that evangelicals urgently need a voice to represent their point of view. They felt it was a “win-win” situation. If something happened to bring about a presidential campaign, it would be good for evangelicals and for the nation. If it did not result in receiving a nomination or winning the general election, then it would still bring unity in the body of Christ and give Christians a focus of discussion in the councils of leadership in our nation.

Would you anticipate broad support from evangelicals if you were to run for President?

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I’m amazed at the unanimity. I am being encouraged from every sector, from very conservative fundamentalists to centrist evangelicals to charismatic Pentecostals. I’m being encouraged both in white and in black church groups. It seems there is a hunger in the hearts of millions of religious people for a voice to represent conservative, traditional, moral family values in our country. However, that doesn’t imply a decision on my part.

Some say you might wind up playing a “Jesse Jackson” role—one who raises issues and gains a power-broker position. How do you respond to that?

I don’t want to be a power broker. I have a wonderful job now, and I’m able to influence millions of people for good and to help millions of people through our outreach ministries. I wouldn’t jeopardize that just to be a power broker. I’m a team player. I have strong, conservative points of view, but I try to bring harmony to those who disagree with me.

You have a significant ministry at CBN. Would a presidential candidacy impair the work of that ministry?

We have capable executives, and “The 700 Club” has a cohost and cohostess who are extremely capable, CBN could go on with or without me. According to Gallup, 69 percent of Americans have heard of “The 700 Club,” and only 33 percent have heard of me. The thrust has been the ministry as opposed to Pat Robertson. If I were off the scene, I don’t think it would be the blow that some people think.

Would you have to be replaced as host of “The 700 Club”?

Not until I was a declared candidate, and that could be held off at least two years. I would not have to remove myself from management of the organization. But once a person is a declared candidate, he either has to go off the air or give equal time to every other candidate every time he appears.

In 1984, there was a thorough investigation of the finances of Geraldine Ferraro and her husband. Would you personally, and CBN corporately, be willing to disclose your finances?

We already disclose them. Our 990T Internal Revenue Service tax return is on file in every public library. An independent auditor issues quarterly statements and yearly or semiannual audits on our operations. We’re also under the scrutiny of the Federal Communications Commission.

As far as my personal finances are concerned, I would not mind releasing my income tax statements.

Your board structure and corporate financial statements don’t qualify CBN for membership in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. Do you anticipate any changes?

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Our board has been essentially a prayer board. We haven’t had a lot of outside businessmen. We’ve had CBN executives and people who were intimately associated with the ministry. The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability requires a majority of the board members to be outside directors. In the event that I get into politics, we would probably expand our board by at least two members.

You have said you would not impose your beliefs on others since we live in a pluralistic society. And yet you advocate specific moral values. How do you reconcile these two positions?

The fear is that an evangelical Christian would use the power of government to force people to accept certain religious values. I have no intention of doing that. I’m a great believer in personal freedom and the nonintervention of government in people’s private lives.

However, all law represents somebody’s value structure. The moral values of our schools will either be based on Judeo-Christian values, humanism, or communism. It will either be the values that made this country great, or the values of those who supplanted them over the last several decades.

You often speak about a supernatural insight from God called a “word of knowledge.” How much do you rely on such insights in your own decision making, and how would that influence public policy making if you were to hold office?

In 1 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul said the word of knowledge is for the church. The apostle Peter said that as each has received a gift, let him use it to benefit others (1 Peter 4:10).

When someone is hurting, the Lord sometimes shows another person what the problem is. I have had this experience when I’m trying to help people with psychological or physical problems. It helps me know what’s going on in their lives so I can help them. But God doesn’t give me words of knowledge in my own life.

Let’s discuss some issues. If you had the opportunity to appoint justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, what criteria would you use?

I studied constitutional law at Yale Law School. I respect the tradition that brought our Constitution into being and the interpretation of it through the early decades of our government. I would look for judges who have a similar respect for the historical basis of this document.

The Constitution is a living document because we can amend it through political processes that take a long time. Five unelected officials (a majority of the Supreme Court justices) should not have the power to amend the Constitution.

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Would you push for a constitutional amendment to allow spoken prayer in public schools?

Yes. But I would prefer to see the mortality tables do their work in relation to 80-year-old Supreme Court justices. If two new justices were appointed, we wouldn’t need constitutional amendments regarding abortion or school prayer.

As President, how would you encourage Israel to deal with Arab Palestinians in its occupied territory?

Israel has to live within secure borders. The United States can’t force Israel to give up what Prime Minister Begin called Judea and Samaria. The only intelligent solution would be a confederation of an Arab entity on the West Bank within Israeli perimeters. That entity would not be an independent Palestinian state. It would be allied with Israel.

Should the United States pursue nuclear superiority over the Soviet Union?

We should go ahead with technical superiority. Some believe the Soviets are so paranoid that if they feel the United States is gaining superiority it could trigger nuclear war. Some kind of parity might accomplish our end without trying to go for major superiority.

If the United States continues such things as the strategic defense initiative, we can overcome any mass advantage the Soviets may have—even in missile warhead capabilities. The strategic defense initiative is forcing the Soviets to scrap $200 billion or $300 billion of spending and go into a whole new level of technology. Their economy is not prepared for that. We should continue to force them into an unequal race where we stress our technological advantage and reestablish some kind of equilibrium.

We must get out from under mutually assured destruction, where we hold our civilians captive to their assaults and they hold theirs captive to our assaults. A defensive shield in space against nuclear aggression that could be shared by both parties is appealing. However, the best solution would be to eliminate all nuclear arms on both sides.



A Printing Press for Bibles

A printing plant is scheduled to be built this year in Nanjing, China, to produce at least 250,000 Bibles and 500,000 New Testaments annually. The press also will print hymnbooks, Christian literature, and other educational literature.

The printing plant is a joint project of Nanjing Normal University and the Amity Foundation, a social service organization initiated by Chinese Christians. With financial assistance from the United Bible Societies, the foundation will supply new printing and binding machinery. Nanjing Normal University will extend its existing printing facility to provide room for the new equipment. Construction work, shipment of equipment, and hiring of staff will continue through this year.

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In a separate development, 100,000 Bibles and more than 60,000 New Testaments have been printed in China on paper supplied by the United Bible Societies. One hundred tons of paper was donated to the Amity Foundation last year. The foundation’s general secretary said nearly all the Bibles have been sold.

The United Bible Societies is a fellowship of 102 national Bible societies with work in more than 180 countries and territories.


A Letter-writing Campaign

A Baptist congregation in Jerusalem is organizing an international letter-writing campaign to try to persuade the Israeli government to allow it to rebuild its church with expanded facilities. The Narkis Street Baptist Church was destroyed by fire in 1982.

Last fall, the Jerusalem district planning commission rejected the church’s plans for a new facility encompassing a 400-seat auditorium, several Sunday school rooms, and office space. The commission invited the congregation to submit a new plan to build facilities about half as large as those proposed earlier.

Robert Lindsey, the Southern Baptist representative who pastors the church, said it is “almost certain” that pressure from extremist Orthodox Jewish groups prompted six of the nine commission members to reject the rebuilding plan. “A kind of subtle permission is being granted to those who would violently attack Christian institutions by the refusal of authorities to speedily grant permits to rebuild and enlarge,” he said.

The 300-member congregation is organizing a letter-writing campaign to urge Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres to intervene. The church is also preparing a legal appeal to the High Court, Israel’s highest judicial body.


Most Favored Nation?

Two bills introduced in Congress would suspend Romania’s Most Favored Nation (MFN) trade status in hopes of pressuring the country to cut down on its repression of Christians.

“Churches are being bulldozed, Bibles have been recycled into toilet paper, and Christian leaders from various churches have been harassed, arrested, and tortured,” said Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.). Smith, along with Representatives Tony Hall (D-Ohio) and Frank Wolf (R-Va.), are challenging Romania’s MFN status in the House of Representatives. In the Senate, a similar bill is being sponsored by Sens. William Armstrong (R-Colo.), Paul Trible (R-Va.), and Paul Simon (D-Ill.).

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The bills would suspend MFN status for six months or until President Reagan feels the country’s human rights situation has improved. However, the Reagan administration supports MFN status to encourage Romania’s relative independence from the Soviet Union in its foreign policy. Because Romania relies heavily on trade with the Smith, left, in Romania. United States, supporters of the bill say suspension of MFN status might pressure the government to lessen its persecution of the church.


Denominations Plan to Unite

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Kingdom of the Netherlands plans to unite with two large Reformed bodies in the next few years. The merger plan comes after several years of shrinking membership in the Lutheran denomination.

In the last two years, the 30,000-member denomination lost some 2,000 members. Attendance at worship services is declining, and youth activities have decreased. Fifteen of the church’s 60 congregations are too small to support a pastor.

Sam Dahlgren, of the Lutheran World Federation’s department of church cooperation, said the planned merger might be a “mirror for the future of churches in a secularizing Europe.”


Christian School Controversy

Government school inspectors have served a “notice of complaint” on four church-run schools in England. If the complaints are upheld, the schools will be forced to close. A fifth school already has been closed.

The complaints involve schools operated primarily by Pentecostal churches. The schools use a curriculum called Accelerated Christian Education (ACE). Some 30 church-related schools in England use the ACE program, created in the 1970s by a Texas pastor.

Inspectors from England’s Ministry of Education say the schools place too much emphasis on religion and not enough on English, math, science, and social studies. They say the schools are failing to educate students to a minimum standard in basic secular subjects.

“I have a wider concern than government minimum school standards,” said Arthur Roderick, an ACE representative. “As a Christian, I am here to serve God in encouraging a school’s curriculum to be biblically based.”

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