So, here it is: Pat Robertson’s reply to Bill Sizemore. Okay, not Pat Robertson—but Regent University Vice President and General Counsel Louis A. Isakoff, whose self-described job is “to provide a high quality legal product that helps create an atmosphere at Regent that enables students, faculty and staff to achieve all that God has planned for them.” Bill Sizemore reviewed the response and declined to engage in a back and forth.
So for those of you too busy (read: lazy—I’m lookin’ at you, bloggers!) to wade through the whole thing, I personally wanted to offer a couple of highlights to consider and some brief responses (my own, not Sizemore’s—and not composed with any input from him). I would provide a point-by-point analysis, but bloggers aren’t the only ones who are lazy. So…
First, Isakoff writes:
The first myth that must be dispelled is this notion about the “prosperity gospel.” The Bible clearly teaches giving and receiving. It says in Luke 6:38: “give and it shall be given to you, a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.” That is not Pat Robertson speaking. That is the Bible. And Pat does encourage giving, most importantly tithing to one’s local church. Yet to do all the humanitarian and ministry activities that CBN does throughout the world takes money, and CBN, like every charity, solicits funds. It takes a mere $20 per month to become a member of The 700 Club. But Mr. Sizemore neglects to say that Dr. Robertson has not taken a salary from CBN or Regent University for 20 years. In fact, Dr. Robertson is the largest single contributor to CBN. Why doesn’t Mr. Sizemore let his readers know that Dr. Robertson practices what he preaches? And by the way, I don’t know if Dr. Robertson is partial to Corvettes, as Mr. Sizemore writes, but Pat drives a Chevy Tahoe (and his other car is a Chrysler).
I wanted to address this, because it seems so fundamental to understanding Robertson. The suggestion that he doesn’t espouse the prosperity gospel just doesn’t make sense to me. On Robertson’s own website, you can read him explaining: “If you just, number one, have a budget where you don’t overspend. Number two, you begin to give unto the Lord substantially. And number three, you begin a certain saving program where money works for you and just let it grow and do its thing. You will be astounded at what will happen in 10, 15 to 20 years. People will say, ‘How did you get so much money?’ ‘Well, it was easy because I followed the laws of God.’” That’s not me talking; that’s Pat Robertson. I do have to concede, however: staying within your budget and investing wisely sounds like a good way to make money, no matter what else you do.
Oh, and about the Corvette. Multiple news reports describe Robertson behind the wheel of a black Corvette—and one even quotes a CBN employee joking that Robertson drives the car so fast that he takes corners “almost on two wheels.” If he’s driving a Tahoe now, I would recommend taking it easy on the curves. Those things have rollover problems.
Second, while we’re speaking of road hazards, Mr. Isakoff goes on to invoke the name of the company that gave you the largest tire recall in history. Isakoff says:
Mr. Sizemore talks about Freedom Gold’s activities in Liberia. He does not tell the reader that Freedom Gold was represented in Liberia by a Harvard-educated Liberian attorney, an attorney who also represented Firestone Tire and Rubber. He doesn’t tell the readers that a variety of US companies like Firestone operated in Liberia during the same time frame for which he criticizes Dr. Robertson. Why does Mr. Sizemore link Dr. Robertson to the brutal regime of Charles Taylor and why doesn’t he make the same link for companies like Firestone?
This struck me as an especially strange line of defense, because, in point of fact, Firestone has been the subject of lawsuits and ongoing criticism from human rights groups for the use of child labor and “modern-day slavery” on their rubber plantations in Liberia. For a heartbreakingly intimate portrait of this, read Zadie Smith’s two-part report from Liberia (here and here), published in The Observer last year. Our article, of course, was about Robertson, not Firestone—and that’s why we didn’t discuss Firestone—but I sure wouldn’t use Firestone’s track record in Liberia to defend my own.
And, lest I forget, Chris Roslan, Robertson’s spokesman, has asked me to correct my earlier statement that “Dera, Roslan, & Campion also represents Alice Cooper and the Institute for Human Origins, the group that discovered the remains of the early human ‘Lucy.’” He says that “is no longer correct. It has probably been at least a decade since we worked with those folks.” We regret the error and look forward to the launch of DRC’s new website—when, presumably, they will post a new client list.