It’s hard to believe, but Pat Robertson has been part of the national landscape for 57 years. He founded the Christian Broadcasting Network in 1961, and apart from a one-year break to campaign for president, he has been there ever since.
In those 57 years, Robertson has been wrong–bad wrong–on a lot of things. For instance, he (in)famously agreed with Jerry Falwell’s claim that the September 11 attacks were brought on by abortion and gays. He also claimed that the people of a Pennsylvania town rejected God when they voted out every school board member who supported intelligent design rather than evolution, and that Haiti was destroyed by an earthquake in 2010 because it made a pact with the devil.
In other words, it has been amply established that the Virginia Beach Ayatollah has a history of diarrhea of the mouth. But even considering that history, some “advice” he offered on Wednesday’s edition of “The 700 Club” is particularly appalling. He told a woman who recently learned her daughter had been raped as a child that she needs to suck it up.
For years, Robertson has fielded questions from viewers. On Wednesday, a woman wrote in with a horrifying tale–her now 35-year-old daughter had just told her that a neighbor boy had abused her when she was six years old. Like any parent, she was devastated and thought Robertson could offer some words of comfort. She was in for a surprise. Watch here.
When the mother said she was having a hard time dealing with the “guilt and helplessness” that she was now feeling, Robertson harrumphed that the woman was “making too big a deal of it.” He believed that this was just an innocent game of doctor. Musing that this happened almost 30 years ago, Robertson mused that the mother ought to “get over it!”
While acknowledging that the daughter had “a scar in her life,” Robertson dismissed it as “a couple of little kids trying to experiment.” He suggested that the mother should forgive the neighbor “and get on with life.”
Even allowing for the generation gap, as well as what we know about Robertson and CBN, this came across as particularly cold and callous. You have to wonder if Robertson would be so dismissive if he was saying this to this woman’s face, rather than from the comfort of his studio in Virginia Beach. And what if a victim or a victim’s relative had been thinking of speaking up, only to hear this garbage?
But then again, Robertson’s approach to dealing with sexual assault has been nothing short of shameful. As late as 2012, CBN put out a teaching paper that told sexual assault victims they could somehow “consent” to incest” or “allow yourself to be molested. That paper had been distributed in one form or another since at least 1996–an eternity in Internet terms. It was only pulled down after advocates for sexual assault victims put Robertson on well-deserved blast at Daily Kos.
This mentality is exactly why victims of sexual assault don’t come forward for years, if at all. All too often, their church families, some of the very people who should be comforting them, are instead kicking them in the teeth and in several other places. And far too many pastors are telling victims the same thing Robertson told this mother–that they should just “get over it.”
If not for the Robertsons of the world, we would have gotten a handle on the scourge of domestic violence and sexual assault a lot sooner. Hope you’re proud of yourself, Pat.
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