Right-wing televangelist and one-time presidential candidate Pat Robertson on Monday linked the Las Vegas massacre to “disrespect” for President Donald Trump and the National Anthem.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I’m trying to make sense of this, I’m sure you are. … Violence in the streets. Why is it happening?” Robertson asked on “The 700 Club” while responding to the massacre. “You know, what I’d like to give you is the fact that we have disrespect for authority. There is profound disrespect of our President all across this nation. They say terrible things about him.”
Robertson has spoken highly of Trump as commander in chief, calling him “God’s man for this job.” In addition to linking violence like the Las Vegas shooting to disrespect for the President, Robertson also cited recent NFL National Anthem protests.
“There’s disrespect now for our National Anthem, disrespect for our veterans, disrespect for the institutions of our government, disrespect for the court system, all the way up and down the line, disrespect,” he continued, making reference to NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem as a form of protest against racism and police brutality. Trump has condemned those protests in a series of remarks and tweets.
Robertson concluded by arguing that this “disrespect” had caused America to lose its “controlling authority,” and this – coupled with the absence of “biblical authority” in the US – has caused “the people (to) run amok.”
Authorities have yet to release a motive behind the attack that left at least 58 dead and more than 500 injured.
The Christian Broadcasting Network, which Robertson founded, said in a statement that his comments have been misconstrued.
“During his commentary on The 700 Club on Monday, Dr. Robertson was making the point that Americans no longer have respect for God, and as a result, no longer have respect for one another or our government.” they wrote, adding that he was making reference to a specific Biblical proverb. “Attempts by some far-left bloggers, and the media that cover them, to put words in his mouth about blame for the Las Vegas shooting are completely wrong.”
Nonetheless, the 87-year-old has a long history of controversial comments, even in the wake of national tragedies.
He has made a number of disparaging remarks about the LGBTQ community, equating homosexuality with murder and thievery and warning that Walt Disney Disney World would face “terrorist bombs … earthquakes, tornadoes, and possibly a meteor” for hosting “Gay Days.”
He said feminism was “a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”
Robertson claimed the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti was caused by the Haitians making “a pact to the devil” and argued that tornadoes across the Midwest in 2012 would not have happened if “enough people were praying.”