Turmoil Deepens for Pat Robertson: More to Come?
More Top Resignations at Christian Coalition; Times of London: Bank of Scotland Deal with "Pentacostal Doom Merchant" is "Unlikely to Succeed"
(WASHINGTON, DC) – The far-right political empire of televangelist Pat Robertson continued to be rocked with turmoil as more senior officials at his financially-strapped Christian Coalition resigned, while a growing tide of anger towards his extremist political views came closer to unraveling a multi-million dollar deal with the Bank of Scotland.
"There's no way to dress it up for the public anymore – Pat Robertson is in serious trouble," said Richard Tafel, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans. "The 1998 elections were a disaster for his candidates, his businesses are under serious legal scrutiny, his political army is deserting him, and his name is box-office poison on the international financial stage. It all comes back to his bizarre and extremist political views, which are proving to be his undoing. It's time for the leaders of the Republican Party to take a giant step backwards from this man whose negatives seem to go off the scale."
Chuck Cunningham, director of national field operations for the Christian Coalition and designer of their famed "voter guides," announced his resignation along with training coordinator Bob Wallace and special projects coordinator Shaun Sutton. This follows the earlier resignation of press secretary Arne Owens. Coalition President Don Hodel left abruptly in February after clashing with Robertson over the televangelist's "repeated blunders" in public, according to the Washington Times. Robertson named himself as Hodel's replacement, while continuing to serve as Chairman of the Board.
The coalition has been plagued with serious financial problems over the past two years, with its budget and staff being sliced in half from 1996 to 1998. Political columnist Stuart Rothenberg hinted at growing internal chaos in a March 8 Roll Call piece, writing that "the Christian Coalition's financial problems have already begun to impact the group's effectiveness" The group "is plagued by such significant internal problems that some social-issue conservatives now wonder whether the organization will follow the Moral Majority into obscurity and extinction," Rothenberg wrote.
Meanwhile, Robertson's intolerant political views continued to plague an increasinly tenuous financial deal with the Bank of Scotland, which had agreed to be a 65% partner in a U.S.-based direct banking venture with Robertson's financial services company. A Sunday Times of London article dealt another blow to the deal by quoting financial analysts as saying the venture was "unlikely to succeed."
"Some investors may wonder what a solid Scottish bank is doing teaming up with a Pentacostal doom merchant," The Sunday Times wrote.
Such sentiment was reinforced when a top leader of the Church of Scotland bitterly denouced Robertson. The Reverend Professor George Newlands, convenor of the Church's panel on doctrine, told the Edinburgh Scotsman said that "modern Scotland has been remarkably free from the institutionalized bigotry of the Christian Right in America," attacking what he called the "lunacies to which Mr. Robertson's followers have traditionally subscribed." Newlands expressed concern "that a bank with a good record has become embroiled with Mr. Robertson," the Scotsman wrote. The paper also reported that the Scottish Trades Union Congress demanded a meeting with the Bank of Scotland, expressing "concern that the deal could backfire and cost jobs."
Meanwhile, the chaplain of Ediburgh University publicly called on the school's principal, Sir Stewart Sutherland, to withdraw the school's £235.5 million account with the Bank of Scotland over the deal with Robertson. The Reverend Iain Whyte described the bank's relationship with Robertson as "incredibly naive or perverse."
The multi-million dollar deal came under immediate fire in Scotland when it was announced early last week, as Robertson's anti-gay and racist views inspired a wave of personal and corporate cancellations of hundreds of millions of pounds in Bank of Scotland business.
"A collapse of the Bank of Scotland deal will mean less money for Robertson to promote his gay-bashing back home," Tafel said. "But Pat Robertson shouldn't despair. He needs to remember that Jesus said it would be easier for a rich man to get into heaven than it would be for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle."