Love thy neighbour?

Latest outburst by evangelical preacher Pat Robertson vis a vis Venezuela President Hugo Chavez seems a little ‘unchristian’ or is it just the new othordoxy?

Assassinate Chavez, Pat Robertson tells a stunned America
By Andrew Buncombe in Washington
Published: 24 August 2005

Pat Robertson, one of the most influential Christian evangelists in the United States, has sparked controversy by calling for the assassination of the left-wing leader of Venezuela.
Mr Robertson, who heads the Christian Coalition and has close links to the White House, said the US should kill President Hugo Chavez because he wanted to turn his Catholic country into “the launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism”.
“We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability,” Mr Robertson said on the Monday night broadcast of his religious programme The 700 Club. “We don’t need another $200bn war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It’s a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.”
Venezuela, whose relationship with the US has become increasingly difficult in recent years, described Mr Robertson’s comments as a form of terrorism and called on the White House to condemn them.
Speaking in Caracas, Vice-President Jose Vicente Rangel said: “This is a huge hypocrisy to maintain an anti-terrorist line and at the same time have such terrorist statements as these made by Christian preacher Pat Robertson coming from the same country. The ball is in the US court now, after this criminal statement by a citizen of that country.”
Mr Chavez, a failed revolutionary who later won power at the ballot boxes, has long been at odds with the US. In 2002 the Bush administration offered support to Mr Chavez’s opponents who briefly overthrew him in a coup. The US also provided money to groups which last year organised a recall vote in a failed effort to dislodge the President.
Mr Chavez, who beat the recall vote as the result of his support among Venezuela’s poor, has often accused the US of trying to assassinate him – echoing the claims of one of his closest allies, Fidel Castro, who he was yesterday visiting in Cuba. The US has admitted that during the Sixties it initiated several operations to kill the Cuban leader.
The relationship between the US and Venezuela is made more complicated by the Latin American country’s role as the world’s fifth largest exporter of oil. It is wealth from these sales that has enabled Mr Chavez to invest heavily in social programmes and in establishing schools and clinics in the poorer barrios.
The organisation headed by Mr Robertson, a former presidential candidate, claims to have more than two millions members. During the 2000 presidential primaries the support of the Christian Coalition was vital in helping Mr Bush win the Republican nomination in South Carolina, where he was strongly challenged by Senator John McCain.
A State Department spokesman described Mr Robertson’s comments as “inappropriate” and said they were from a private citizen and did not represent the government’s position.
A spokeswoman for Mr Robertson said that the evangelist had no further comment at this point.
Robertson on…
FEMINISM
“It encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”
9/11
“If they look over the course of 100 years, I think the gradual erosion of the consensus that’s held our country together is probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings.”
ISLAM
“It’s clear from the teachings of the Koran and also from the history of Islam that it’s anything but peaceful.”
Pat Robertson, one of the most influential Christian evangelists in the United States, has sparked controversy by calling for the assassination of the left-wing leader of Venezuela.
Mr Robertson, who heads the Christian Coalition and has close links to the White House, said the US should kill President Hugo Chavez because he wanted to turn his Catholic country into “the launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism”.
“We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability,” Mr Robertson said on the Monday night broadcast of his religious programme The 700 Club. “We don’t need another $200bn war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It’s a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.”
Venezuela, whose relationship with the US has become increasingly difficult in recent years, described Mr Robertson’s comments as a form of terrorism and called on the White House to condemn them.
Speaking in Caracas, Vice-President Jose Vicente Rangel said: “This is a huge hypocrisy to maintain an anti-terrorist line and at the same time have such terrorist statements as these made by Christian preacher Pat Robertson coming from the same country. The ball is in the US court now, after this criminal statement by a citizen of that country.”
Mr Chavez, a failed revolutionary who later won power at the ballot boxes, has long been at odds with the US. In 2002 the Bush administration offered support to Mr Chavez’s opponents who briefly overthrew him in a coup. The US also provided money to groups which last year organised a recall vote in a failed effort to dislodge the President.
Mr Chavez, who beat the recall vote as the result of his support among Venezuela’s poor, has often accused the US of trying to assassinate him – echoing the claims of one of his closest allies, Fidel Castro, who he was yesterday visiting in Cuba. The US has admitted that during the Sixties it initiated several operations to kill the Cuban leader.
The relationship between the US and Venezuela is made more complicated by the Latin American country’s role as the world’s fifth largest exporter of oil. It is wealth from these sales that has enabled Mr Chavez to invest heavily in social programmes and in establishing schools and clinics in the poorer barrios.
The organisation headed by Mr Robertson, a former presidential candidate, claims to have more than two millions members. During the 2000 presidential primaries the support of the Christian Coalition was vital in helping Mr Bush win the Republican nomination in South Carolina, where he was strongly challenged by Senator John McCain.
A State Department spokesman described Mr Robertson’s comments as “inappropriate” and said they were from a private citizen and did not represent the government’s position.
A spokeswoman for Mr Robertson said that the evangelist had no further comment at this point.
Robertson on…
FEMINISM
“It encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”
9/11
“If they look over the course of 100 years, I think the gradual erosion of the consensus that’s held our country together is probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings.”
ISLAM
“It’s clear from the teachings of the Koran and also from the history of Islam that it’s anything but peaceful.”

  • Fraggle

    By what definition is Mr Chavez a ‘failed revolutionary’. He seems to be a fairly successful revolutionary so far.

  • lamh_dearg

    A Christian man!

    And so the extreme Christians ape the extreme Islamists. “My religion justifies the killing of people who disagree with me”

    Obviously not just NI that has a surfeit of religion.

  • circles

    I wonder who Jesus would have on his assassination list?

  • Kelvin Doherty

    Although he is without doubt as mad as a box of frogs, he is also very dangerous.

    This smells like Chile 74

  • steve48

    One wonders what the response of the US administration would be if an Islamic preacher called for the assasination of George W.
    I doubt if it would be as restrained.

  • bollix

    One slogan of the Christian right in the USA is WWJD, what would Jesus do?
    Perhaps in the present climate it would be better put as WWJB – where would Jesus bomb?
    or WWJA – who would Jesus assassinate?

  • lamh_dearg

    I presume that the Home Secretary will now ban Robertson from traveling to this country and we will hear loud calls for his co-religionists to distance themselves from his teachings?

    Maybe the Mail will lead a campaign to deport all Christians?

  • groucho

    The Yanks were up to their necks in the attempt to overthrow the Chavez regime. Robertson is only being a little less subtle than Dubya’s clan.

  • Jo

    “You know, I don’t know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It’s a whole lot cheaper than starting a war. “

    ..quite an interesting alliance of free market thinking and 21st century (USA) Christianity – murder isn’t murder as long as it is the cheapest alternative.

    What a sad sick old man he is. Let’s hope it isnt too long before he is called to account for thoughts like that one.

  • DCB

    He’s an elected leader so assasination shouldn’t really be an option.

    However Chavez is as mad as a hatter and will bankrupt his country. He’s in danger of becoming a Latin American Robert Mugabee – only he’s helped at the moment by exorbent oil prices.

    But oil is still a cyclical commidity and when global GDP slows it will fall. And when it falls Venezuila is f;ked, not to mention Saudi Arabia.

  • circles

    DCB: “However Chavez is as mad as a hatter and will bankrupt his country.”

    An interesting interpretation DCB. I have read very mixed things about Chavez, although I have to say recently, after going through a period of thinking he was a mad dictator, his redistribution of wealth, and health and education programmes for the disadvantaged are certainly impressive.
    The economy is in good form too I think (even if his opponents don’t get a big enough slice of the cake for their liking)
    Comparisons with Muagbe are certainly not realistic. So apart from the crazy personality cult he has going their, why is Chavez mad? And if the only thing thats gonny brak the economy their is when the price of oil collapses then old Hugo has a few good years yet I’d say.

  • EWI

    “However Chavez is as mad as a hatter and will bankrupt his country.”

    Who’s the current US President? What’s the current US deficit?

  • DCB

    Mad may not be the right term, as in he’s not clinically mad. But still a nutcase.

    He’s eroding the freedom of the press, the independence of the judiciary, and turning the state into a crony run corrupt mess. The gains from oil could be all the greater if PDVSA was run my proper managers rather than Chavez loyalists.

    He’s created paper gains by holding his debt in Bolivars, having his main assets in dollars, and then devaluing the currency. Those gains have then been taken from the central bank and used to spend on his pet projects.

    Redistributing wealth or another “Great Leap Forward”? History would make me very sceptical of the eventual success of such programmes.

    Your right the wheels aren’t going to come off oil any time in the near future (though if China catches a cold you would want to be short oil), but rampant inflation, unemployment and government programmes to re-educate the poor could well do the trick.

    Then of course there’s his notion that import substitution programmes will do anything other than ramp up inflation while producing inferior goods.

    Perhaps comparing him to Mugabee is a little unfair at this stage, but there are signs that he could go that way.

  • antonio

    Will America now join the war on terror by having Mr Robertson arrested.I am sure Mr Allister and Mr Robinson will be raising this in Europe.
    Also I will be very intrested to see Mr Mcdowells reaction to this one.
    There has been so much talk about the Columbia 3
    and Ireland’s international obligation’s,let’s see America’s obligations.

  • circles

    OK – quite a list I suppose, but surely any leader could have a similar list drawn up against him?
    Bush’s record isn’t any better with regard to a free press and indenpendent judiciary.
    Chavez is no great revolutionary leader IMO, but he’s not the devil either – he’s just not playing the US game 100% which bugs people.

  • DCB

    EWI

    Much improved from last year as a result of growth stimulating tax cuts, and as a percentage of GDP not too bad at all.

    Still it could be better, Bush in many ways a big government, heavy spender. He’s tight morals, lose money.

  • circles

    Just got this by mail:

    (NAIROBI) August 24: All Africa Conference of Churches General Secretary Rev. Dr. H. Mvume Dandala has called American Televangelist and One Time Presidential Candidate Pat Robertson’s recent televised call for the Assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez an “inexcusable call for brutality by a man who claims to be a disciple of Christ.”

    Speaking from the AACC Office in Nairobi, Kenya, Rev. Dr. Dandala lamented the fact that anyone who claims to speak for the Church would call for violence as the means to any political end, particularly violence that involves the assassination of a democratically elected head of state such as Chavez.

    “Robertson cannot reconcile his call for the assassination of President Chavez with Christ’s call for us to be peacemakers in a world filled with violence. No matter how he tries to justify it, Robertson’s public demand that the United States kill Chavez is simply a tragic betrayal of the Gospel.”

    According to Dandala, Robertson’s comments brought his integrity into question.

    “We who work in the church can never mistake our commitment to the values of the Gospel with any particular political agenda. Yes, the Church is called to engage political systems on behalf of the poor and suffering; however, Robertson has made the mistake of believing that a brand of right-wing extremism is equivalent to the Gospel.”

    Though Robertson’s public denouncement of Chavez centered around an accusation that the Venezualan President is turning his nation a “launching pad for communist influence and Muslim extremism” that will contribute to global terror, Rev. Dr. Dandala noted that many of Robertson’s business dealings in Africa have led him to develop relationships with leaders whose regimes have been nondemocratic and often brutal, such as former Liberian leader Charles Taylor and Mobutu Sese Seko, former president of Zaire.

    Founded in 1963, The All Africa Conference of Churches is an ecumenical fellowship representing more than 120 million Christians in 39 African countries working to make a difference in the lives of the people of Africa through ministries of advocacy and presence on the continental, regional, and local levels.

  • James Orr

    Robertson is a nut. However most people regard Deitrich Bonhoeffer as a saint-like Christian (he was directly involved in a plot to murder Hitler).

    So does “thou shalt not kill” apply to both Bonhoeffer and Robertson, or do we reinterpret that specific commandment depending on the target?

    Hmmm….

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dietrich_Bonhoeffer

  • Alan McDonald

    James Orr,
    I was not aware of Bonhoeffer’s connection with the failed attempt to assassinate Hitler. I followed your link to

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer
    From Wikipedia

    It says is that:
    He was arrested in April 1943 after money that was used to help Jews escape to Switzerland was traced to him, and he was charged with conspiracy. He was imprisoned in Berlin for a year and a half. After the unsuccessful July 20 Plot [to kill Hitler] in 1944, connections of Bonhoeffer to the conspirators were discovered, he was moved to a series of prisons and concentration camps ending at Flossenbürg. Here, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed by hanging at dawn on 9th April 1945, just three weeks before the liberation of the city.

    I have not been able to find anything that connests him to the planning of the assassination other than being executed for it. Do you have another site that substantiates his involvement?

    Anyway, my view is that Christians shouldn’t be doing anything but turning the other cheek. Of course, I am not a Christian.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”FEMINISM
    “It encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”

    ORGANISED RELIGION
    ‘Encourages men to become smug, sexist, babbling, delusional anti-human rights campaigners.’

  • manu

    thank god i am not xritian..and i pray daily to christ “dear jesus save me from your followers”

  • Alan McDonald

    Still looking for the Bonhoefer/Hitler link. Found this (It Is Time for A Romero Amendment) while searching. It refers to the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero, among others, and includes the line:

    I have friends who knew Bonhoeffer. Pat Robertson is no Dietrich Bonhoeffer.