Robertson Riles Missionaries

While most evangelical missionaries have been resisting the present dictatorship of President Mobutu Sese Seko, Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson recently spent seven days in Zaire at Mobutu’s invitation. Robertson’s trip upset some missionaries and the U.S. State Department alike, who say his visit boosted Mobutu’s administration.

“I frankly do not understand a man of Robertson’s character continuing to be wined and dined by Mobutu,” Presbyterian Church (USA) missionary Nancy Warlick told Religious News Service. Warlick, like most foreign missionaries, was forced to leave Zaire in late September during an outbreak of violence.

A spokesperson for Robertson said the broadcaster was Mobutu’s guest, but also met with members of the opposition party. Spokesperson Susan Norman said Robertson’s visit was “not to support President Mobutu in any way, but to get the gospel out to the people.”

Robertson said he was providing just under $1 million in medicine in conjunction with his trip.

Robertson’s visit came less than a month after Mobutu’s troops fired on a peaceful demonstration of Protestants and Catholics, killing at least 17.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson, Makila James, said U.S. officials had discouraged Robertson from making the visit.

“We had concerns about the public-relations impression,” James said.

Robertson appeared on television with Mobutu, which further riled missionaries, according to Cal Williams, West Africa coordinator for MAP International.

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