Unethical Quote of the Month: Rev. Pat Robertson

“I’ve got a dear friend [who has]an adopted son, a little kid from an orphanage down in Columbia. Child had brain damage, grew up weird. And you just never know what’s been done to a child before you get that child. What kind of sexual abuse [there] has been, what kind of cruelty, what kind of food deprivation, etc. etc. You don’t have to take on somebody else’s problems. You really don’t.”

—-Televangelist Pat Robertson weighing in against international adoption on his syndicated TV show, “The 700 Club.” He was responding to a letter from a woman who had adopted three children from other countries, and whose social life had suffered as a result.

Worse than weird

No, of course you don’t “have” to take on anyone’s problems, especially those of helpless orphans in poor countries. You can ignore them completely. You can concentrate on helping people here, and that’s admirable, or you can just help yourself and fulfill your minimal societal obligations without hurting anyone. It is certainly strange, however, to hear a Christian minister discourage the sacrifice and courage of parents who choose to rescue international orphans, and express such callousness in the process.

A fellow minister, Russell Moore, properly put Robertson in his place:

“Let me just say this bluntly. This is not just a statement we ought to disagree with. This is of the devil…The issue here isn’t just that Robertson is, with cruel and callous language, dismissing the Christian mandate to care for the widows and orphans in their distress. The issue is that his disregard is part of a larger worldview. The prosperity and power gospel Robertson has preached fits perfectly well with the kind of counsel he’s giving in recent years. Give China a pass on their murderous policies; we’ve got business interests there. Divorce your weak wife; she can’t do anything for you anymore. Those adopted kids might have brain damage; they’re “weird.” What matters is health and wealth and power. But that’s not the gospel of Jesus Christ….Jesus was, after all, one of those adopted kids. Joseph of Nazareth was faced with a pregnant woman he could easily have abandoned. He knew this child wasn’t his, and all he had to go on was her word and a dream. He could have dismissed either. But he strapped on his cross, provided for his wife, and protected her child. Indeed, he became a father to her child. God called this righteous. The child Jesus seemed to be a colossal risk. His own family and neighbors and villagers thought he’d turned out ‘weird.’ (Mark 3:20-21)”

Robertson has certainly turned out weird, and it’s easy to say that he is just a crackpot whose ridiculous and offensive pronouncements, like attributing various natural disasters to God’s vengeance because the U.S. doesn’t properly ostracize gays, are punchlines and nothing more. The problem is that Robertson still has a huge following. People listen to him, assume his wisdom because he’s on TV, and then go out and vote for vile dummies like Todd Akin.

Robertson quickly apologized after many of his colleagues attacked his comments on adoption, but he didn’t really. What he said was that he meant to say that “adoption wasn’t for everyone,” and he reminded his audience of his charity work on behalf of orphans. He did not address his dismissal of foreign adoptions as too likely to benefit “weird” kids, however, and like so many apologies that include “clarifications,” his explanation was so inconsistent with his original words and tone that it is difficult to regard it as more than public relations repair work.

In his take-down of Robertson, Moore answered those who say he should excuse Robertson’s periodic outrageous statements because he is getting older, means well, and should be held to a lower standard, kind of like Joe Biden:

“Please…That would be true if people were tapping his phone, or going to his house and recording conversations. However, the man is on television, representing to millions of people what Christianity is about.”

Exactly. Having unethical values and being stupid obligates one not to spread these maladies to others.


Pointer: Michael Gerson

Facts, Graphic: Towel Road

Source: Moore To the Point

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at  jamproethics@verizon.net.
Read more: http://www.towleroad.com/2012/08/pat-robertson-on-the-dangers-of-international-adoption.html#ixzz24T2Vj5iF

11 thoughts on “Unethical Quote of the Month: Rev. Pat Robertson

  1. I’m reminded of David and Saul in the old test. Even tho Saul had lost his anointing and the relationship he once had with God, David still would not disrespect God’s once anointed man of God.. Out of respect for his age and his past God has once used him greatly and we all say things thats somehow gets turned around and taken out of content.. There was one woman in the bible that came to Jesus to be healed and He called her a dog because she was a gentile… But because of her faith she received the healing she needed…. I do believe when you adopt a child from another country you do not know what spirits or abuse that child has been subjected to, but i believe nothing is to hard for God and his grace is enough to see us thru… It all goes to being led of the Lord and allowing Him to direct your path… And unless he leads u in that direction then maybe its not for you to do..
    it takes special people to raise and care for someone elses child and God bless those people.. God bless….

  2. The full quote was this.

    “You don’t have to take on somebody else’s problems. You really don’t. You can help people – we administer to orphans all over the world, we love helping people. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m going to take all the orphans around the world into my home.

    Should you not have at least included the full quote? Towleroad supplied the full quote.

    • No, because the rest of the quote is just more of the same. And by the way, you didn’t include the full quote either, which begins by talking about the adopted kid who turned out “weird.” That frames his point. He’s saying that adopting is too much, that “helping”—that is, sending money, is sufficient. Of course, it isn’t. And the false alternative of taking “all the orphans around the world into my home” or just sending them clothes is ridiculous and dishonest. It actually makes the quote worse. The woman adopted three orphans, not “all the orphans,” and Robertson was saying that was excessive and not her “problem.”

      I don’t see how you could read the full quote and think it mitigates the callousness of what Robertson said.

      • I don’t see how you could read the full quote and think it mitigates the callousness of what Robertson said.

        I never claimed it did.

        There are other quotes from him that are actually even more offensive, such as his advising a man to divorce his wife who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.

  3. Somebody needs to put Pat out to pasture. Thank you Mr.Moore for setting him straight. An adopted child is legally your responsibility,faults and all. You wouldn’t and couldn’t send your birth child back because it was “faulty.” Where is the unconditional love? What about the care of widows and orphans that the church is responsible for? And doing a half ass job here in the states from what I can tell.

  4. Okay, I’m guilty of stereotyping, but not being one who can pass up the opportunity for a cheap shot:

    Robertson makes me thankful to the Lord that I’m not a Christian.

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