Not In My God’s Name

Proving conclusively that Islamic mullahs have no corner on the market for incendiary hate speech, America’s own notorious televangelist, Pat Robertson –the one-time Republican candidate for President and long-time confidant of George W. Bush– called this week for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Mr. Robertson touted his foreign policy directive Monday on the ABC Family Network television program, “The 700 Club,” telling his audience of over one million viewers that assassinating the democratically elected leader of the world’s fifth-largest oil exporting nation would be “a whole lot cheaper than starting a war.”

For his part, when informed of the news of Mr. Robertson’s fatwa, Mr. Chavez said, “I haven’t read anything. We haven’t heard anything about him. I don’t even know who that person is.”

CBS News reported that Chavez said he’d rather “talk about life” than death.

Today, Mr. Robertson responded to a firestorm of criticism over his remarks (the least of which, perhaps, came from our own State Department, whose spokesman allowed they were inappropriate), by employing the time-honored tactic of denying he ever made them. “I didn’t say assassination. I said our special forces should take him out. Take him out can be a number of things including kidnapping. There are a number of ways to take out a dictator from power besides killing him. I was misinterpreted.”

Actually, Mr. Robertson wasn’t misinterpreted at all, since he did in fact clearly call for the Venezuelan leader to be assassinated on Monday.

My question is, how do we receive his apology on Wednesday, when he merely downgrades his call from assassination to kidnapping?

Mr. Robertson is the founder of the Christian Coalition of America, a conservative organization claiming nearly 2 million members and 1,500 local chapters in all 50 US states, supporting what he says is a pro-family, non-partisan agenda while educating “people of faith” to influence all levels of government. The group’s issues include ending abortion rights and supporting the nomination of conservative judges –and now, apparently, killing (or at least kidnapping) leaders of countries with whom they disagree.

I may open myself to criticism from the left flank here, but I believe –as long as it appears much of our political and social policy-making in this country is going to come garnished with “faith-based” theological underpinnings and platitudes– it is high time we embraced large-scale religious education.

Every school child ought to read and study the Bible, the Torah, the Koran, the Baghvad-Gita, the Dhammapada (Teachings of Buddah), the Analects of Confucious, and any other tome of moral and ethical comportment that might help each and every one of them recognize a godless charlatan like Pat Robertson when they see one.


  1. Harshmoon - August 25, 2005 @ 12:56 am

    Pat Pat Pat, why didn’t you include Castro to your list?

  2. Don Abel - August 25, 2005 @ 8:37 am

    I personally have never seen the logic in turning to religious leaders for advice in matters political. When my electricity goes out, do I call an exterminator, I think not. Why ask a (so called or otherwise) cleric to counsel you on political issues. If God has a place in one’s political decisions, one should go and quietly ask God what to do on a personal basis. I don’t really think that any human speaks for God, even if they profess to do so.
    This whole concept puzzles me.
    If it helps you, listen to Pat, Jimmy, Jerry and all the rest of the worlds religious(?) leaders and apply their advice to your spiritual life if you think it applies. But in matters of polotics and government, think for yourself America.
    Just my 2 cents worth, for what it is worth.

  3. Lore Cailor - August 25, 2005 @ 1:11 pm

    You are who your friends are. And since Mr. Robertson is a confidante of Mr. Bush that alone should speak volumes.

  4. Harper - August 25, 2005 @ 1:50 pm

    As a very liberal Christian, I am once again dismayed by the fact that the only “Christian” voices that scream out at us from the media are angry and bitter and surely wrong. I go to a church full of people, who BECAUSE of their love for Christ and his teachings, feed the homeless, protect the orphaned and widowed, pray for peace in all lands, respect the rights of others and would never ever call for something as against the very basic and rudimentary “Thou Shalt Not Kill” that we all know to be true and sage advice from our God. While I am also taught not to judge others and try very hard not to, it gets harder and harder to adhere to that when our so called “religious leaders” are calling for the killing of another human being, another of God’s creations whom He loves.

  5. lonbud - August 25, 2005 @ 3:09 pm

    I, too, find it odd the only “Christian” voices we hear in the public square today are those who claim to speak for a vengeful God.

  6. Harper - August 26, 2005 @ 10:23 am

    …while all you have to do is study the Bible to learn that He is not a vengeful God. There was a lot of God-encouraged violence in the Old Testament while He was helping Israel to escape from Egypt and become set up as a free people in a new land. But that was before the “new covenant” of Christ’s body and blood. And That is what the new testament is about, the Christianity of following Jesus and His teachings. The Bible can be interpreted to say whatever you want it to say on a lot of points. Murder is not one of those. It is very clear on Murder. And it is very clear on Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself. The loud Christian voices of today sometimes interpret the Bible so that their God says what they want Him to say. That is the scary thing about ever claiming to know the will of God. How could a human know without a doubt what the will of God is? We can’t. So like one of the other commentors said, you pray to your God and you do what you believe to be right and what you believe to be God’s will for you and you accept with humility your limited understanding of all things holy, and you don’t force your idea of the will of God onto other people as law written in stone. Unless, like Thou Shalt Not Kill, it WAS one of the ten laws that WERE in fact written in stone.

  7. Michael Herdegen - August 26, 2005 @ 9:38 pm

    Thou shalt not murder – a different concept entirely.

    Hugo Chavez was not “democratically elected”, he rigged the election. He has also had several political rivals assassinated, so it would be poetic justice if he got whacked himself.

    Speaking of “whacked” – Robertson isn’t wrapped too tightly, and is also over the hill.
    His foreign policy advice is followed by nobody.

  8. lonbud - August 27, 2005 @ 1:16 am

    a different concept from what, michael?
    hugo chavez is roundly acknowledged to have been democratically elected, re-elected, and today, against all odds, is serving at the expressed will of the people of venezuela. only that they are truly behind him, by the grace of god, and with –as paul mccartney wrote– a little luck, is hugo chavez even alive today.
    you are right about robertson, though.

  9. Michael Herdegen - August 27, 2005 @ 11:54 am

    “Murder” is a specific kind of killing.

    The Ten Commandments don’t prohibit killing, they prohibit killing for personal satisfaction or gain.

    Hugo Chavez is “roundly acknowledged” to have stuffed ballot boxes during the referendum vote on his continued leadership.

    I note that you don’t contest that Chavez had some of his rivals killed, hardly the type of behavior that one expects from a democratically-elected, popular leader.

  10. lonbud - August 27, 2005 @ 1:22 pm

    umm, my copy of the ten commandments says Thou shalt not kill. no relegation of the prohibition to killing done for gain or satisfaction, as far as i can tell.

    i disagree that there is any general acknowledgement of election fraud in the venezuelan recall referendum. can you cite a credible report thereof?

    likewise, i would contest, in the absence of credible evidence to the contrary, that chavez had anyone –rival or not– killed. everything i have read in journals of credible opinion maintain that chavez is in fact an overwhelmingly popular leader in venezuela. not so popular, granted, among the jaguar-driving 3% of the population that owns 90% of the farmland but, still…

  11. Michael Herdegen - August 27, 2005 @ 3:18 pm

    Thou shalt not kill.

    by Pastor Kirk DiVietro
    Grace Baptist Church, Franklin, MA

    This commandment is probably the best known and most often used in our contemporary social discussions. Unfortunately it is also one of the most misunderstood of the commandments.

    In Hebrew there are 9 different words that mean to cause the death of another. But they do not all mean the same thing. The commandment is against murder, not death.

    In Matthew 19:18: Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness.

    The sixth commandment is not a blanket statement ordering men never to take the life of another. Murder is the taking of innocent life.

    Thou Shalt Not Murder

    By Eliezer Segal
    First Publication:
    Jewish Free Press, October 19, 2000, p. 8.

    Blidstein, Gerald J. “Capital Punishment–The Classic Jewish Discussion.” Judaism 14, no. 2 (1965): 159-71.
    Lockshin, Martin I., ed. 1997. Rashbam’s Commentary on Exodus: an Annotated Translation, Brown Judaic. Atlanta: Scholars Press.
    Segal, Ben-Tsiyon. 1990. The Ten Commandments in History and Tradition. Translated by Gershom Levi, Publications of the Perry Foundation for Biblical Research, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Jerusalem: Magnes.

    Those of us who are familiar with the original Hebrew text of the Bible find frequent occasion to whine about inaccuracies and misleading expressions in the translations that are in use among non-Jews. […]
    For me, one of the most irksome cases has always been the rendering of the sixth commandment as “Thou shalt not kill.” […]
    Indeed, “kill” in English is an all-encompassing verb that covers the taking of life in all forms and for all classes of victims. That kind of generalization is expressed in Hebrew through the verb “harag.” However, the verb that appears in the Torah’s prohibition is a completely different one, “ratsah” which, it would seem, should be rendered “murder.” This root refers only to criminal acts of killing. […]

    The good old King James version of the Bible, which introduced this formulation into standard English discourse, is usually much more accurate in its Hebrew scholarship […]
    It turns out that the confusion did not originate with that sixteenth-century English translation. From the writings of Jewish exegetes who lived in medieval France, we learn that the gentiles in their environment were also translating the biblical prohibition incorrectly.
    For example, two of the most eminent commentators of the time, Rabbi Samuel ben Meir (Rashbam) and Rabbi Joseph Bekhor-Shor, felt the need to go on at uncharacteristic length in order to explain that the Hebrew text refers only to unlawful killing. Both these scholars pointed out plainly the differences between the Hebrew roots for killing and murdering (for good measure, Bekhor Shor even provides a French translation of the latter term: meurtre), and brought ample evidence of the Torah’s condoning other types of killing. […]
    Even the Septuagint, the old Greek translation of the Bible, translated the commandment with a word that means “murder” rather than “kill.”

    Jimmy Carter’s Election Fraud

    By Joel Mowbray
    September 29, 2004

    Carter’s love of thugs has not waned over the years. Last month, he certified the widely condemned referendum in which Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez supposedly won by a wide margin of 59-to-41.
    Exit polling conducted by the highly regarded Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, however, found the exact opposite result: 59 percent opposed the communist “President,” with only 41 percent in favor.
    As explained by the Wall Street Journal’s Mary O’Grady, Carter lacked the ability to prove the exit polls wrong (which could not have been 36 points off), because he only had access to a sampling of the easy-to-manipulate software tabulations printed out by voting booths.

    Observers Rush to Judgment

    Saturday, August 21, 2004

    The problem was that the “observers” hadn’t actually observed the election results. Messrs. Carter and Gaviria were only allowed to make a “quick count”–that is, look at the tally sheets spat out by a sample of voting machines. They were not allowed to check this against ballots the machines issued to voters as confirmation that their votes were properly registered.
    If there was fraud, as many Venezuelans now suspect, it could have been discovered if the ballots didn’t match the computer tallies. The tallies alone were meaningless.

    Exit polls in Venezuela

    By Michael Barone

    Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez has been running an authoritarian regime. By various means he has taken control of the legislature, the courts, the armed services and the police. His thugs have been intimidating and even killing the regime’s opponents. The literature on this is voluminous, but consider these reports from the Wall Street Journal: and
    [Chavez] sought to block the referendum by extralegal means and, having failed at that, resorted to intimidation to win it. There is no reason to believe that he would stop at election fraud.
    One weapon against such fraud is the exit poll. As Doug Schoen of Penn Schoen points out, his firm has conducted exit polls in Mexico and, just a few days ago, in the Dominican Republic, which produced results very close to the election results. His partner Mark Penn points out that the firm conducted two previous exit polls in Venezuela, both of which were on the mark. Warren Mitofsky’s firm, Mitofsky International, has produced exit polls with similar results in Mexico and Russia. Mitofsky recalls that in 1994, Mexican President Carlos Salinas, seeking credibility with foreign investors for that year’s Mexican elections, asked him for advice on what to do. Allow independent exit polls, Mitofsky advised, sponsored by the media, and allow the results to be announced soon after the voting. Mitofsky’s exit poll results, announced soon after the polls closed, did in fact come close to the official results, as did another Mitofsky poll in 2000.

  12. Harper - August 29, 2005 @ 4:29 pm

    Again, you can interpret the Bible to say whatever you want it to. Which is why there is such a rift in the church about so many things. Both sides can pull out verses from the Bible supporting their arguments or dispute the meaning of others’ arguments, disputing what God meant to say. Although there is still considerable debate over what the sixth commandment means in both the Jewish and Christian communities (for example, see this story in The Forward:; what is unambiguous is that Christianity commands its practitioners to forgive and to turn the other cheek. Whether you label an act “murder” or “killing,” the Christian bible is quite adament that its practitioners are not to take revenge.

  13. lonbud - August 29, 2005 @ 9:23 pm

    in re: chavez –i do not consider the WSJ to be credible when it comes to reporting on chavez. they can’t decide whether he is a dictator or a communist, so they just parlay their bet and call him a communist dictator –and then foment waves of paranoia about the domino effect if such a leader is allowed to remain in power in south america. to use one of your favorite epithets, michael —rubbish.

    and i wish you could have seen me roll my eyes when i read that one weapon against [election] fraud is the exit poll! if that were the case, dubya would have never been allowed to play president of the united states on tv.

    in re: the sixth commandment –murder is killing by another name. i agree with harper’s assessment that the teachings of jesus christ counsel forgiveness and abhorrance of revenge. even if one fails to agree on such an interpretation and is willing to abide by the prohibition against causing death for personal satisfaction or gain, bush, cheney, rumsfeld, et al, are guilty.

  14. Paul Burke - September 1, 2005 @ 7:23 am

    “…what God meant to say.” I find this the most compelling and the crux of the situation. Does anyone think that God wrote a book – raise your hands. God actually sat down and wrote the words? Language and writing are the tools of man – and religion is the law of the powerful set down to control the masses before man developed a codefied legal system. Which is why our system of laws can be tied to religious doctrine and that’s a completly inconsequential thing because it’s all mans codefied law, whether you call it a psalm or an ordinance whether it’s in a parable or a statute.

    Even inspired encounters with the infinite are left to the interpretation of the witness, and jotted down by the observer. God didn’t write the bible, God didn’t write the koran, God didn’t write any of it – writing is a function of man – through which inspiration can come as delivered by a creative force. It’s the same force that created everything you see around you the Earth and each other. We have learned to call the creative force god and thus personified it so we can understand it and come to terms with the whole of creation that we find ourselves in. People who slavishly pour over the written words of man and take positions and argue the details “what god meant to say” are spinning their wheels and creating havoc looking for excuses to justify their actions that they know are wrong. How do we know it’s wrong well if you want to hear what god has to say listen to that small inner voice we call your conscience – those who have tried to write that down have come the closest to the creative voice. We all know the difference between right and wrong. Carl Jung called it the collective unconscious, but I think it’s very conscious, and the more you tune into it the easier it gets. To seek god to know god to hear god and to see god is a personal a tunement, a quieting of man made distractions, a personal journey that is different for each and everyone of us leading to the universal truths we all just somehow know, and the source of the inspiration is limitless.

    “Then, to be able to remember the sunset, to be able to remember a beautiful conversation, a beautiful deed done where hope and faith were created, to remember the smile of a babe, the blush of a rose, the harmony of a song — a bird’s call; these are creative. For if they are a part of thyself, they bring you closer and closer to God.”

    In my humble opinion (and I mean that) that’s all you need to know – the devils in the details and can be used to justify any course of action. Pat Robertson is an ass, praying for supreme court vacancies – our personified god has to be rolling his eyes on that one, and sending him a busy signal.

  15. Michael Herdegen - September 1, 2005 @ 7:24 pm


    Yes, I thought that someone might compare Bush & Chavez re: Exit polls.

    Find me a national or statewide FL or OH exit poll that put Gore or Kerry up by thirty points over Bush, and you’ll have convinced me that something fishy went on.
    An exit poll putting Kerry up by five won’t cut it.

    Further, regarding 2000, it’s pretty clear that Florida voters wanted to elect Gore.

    However, they were prevented from doing so not by any extra-legal shenanigans by Bush & Co., but rather by the voters’ own confusion, and inability to properly fill out their ballots – ballots, by the way, that were designed and approved of by Democrats.

  16. lonbud - September 1, 2005 @ 9:40 pm

    I’m happy to let the Venezuelan people worry about whether their government is legitimate or not; their ultimate fate rests in their own hands. Suffice it to say that Pat Robertson is an irresponsible lunatic, and that our President’s willingness to solicit his counsel is troubling, at best.

    Florida voters most certainly wished to elect Gore in 2000 and were prevented from doing so not out of confusion or inability to…fill out their ballots, rather, their will was thwarted by organized, premeditated, systematic disfranchisement orchestrated by Kathleen Harris, and abetted by a treasonous majority of the United States Supreme Court.

  17. Michael Herdegen - September 2, 2005 @ 9:44 am

    Pat Robertson is an irresponsible lunatic, and […] our President’s willingness to solicit his counsel is troubling…

    President Bush has NEVER asked Robertson for advice on foreign policy, and CLEARLY this latest bit was unsolicited.
    Would you want anyone judging you by the contents of any of my unprompted postings on your site ?

    Florida voters most certainly wished to elect Gore in 2000 and […] their will was thwarted by organized, premeditated, systematic disfranchisement orchestrated by Kathleen Harris, and abetted by a treasonous majority of the United States Supreme Court.


    EVERY state sweeps their rolls for improperly registered voters.
    Some do it badly, such as Illinois.
    Florida revamped their procedures after the ’00 elections, to prevent any further problems.

    How could the Supreme Court’s actions be treasonous ?
    A person meeting all of the Constitutional tests was made President.

    Unless you mean that only Gore knew what was best for the U.S., and everyone who voted for anyone else is a traitor.

    Perhaps you mean that the Florida Supreme Court was treasonous.
    The Supreme Court of the United States was called upon to make a decision, and they made one, a decision to UPHOLD THE LAWS OF FLORIDA, a decision that the Florida Supreme Court itself should have made, but didn’t.

    That wasn’t the first time that the person with the most popular votes didn’t assume the office of President – more like the fourth.

  18. Michael Herdegen - September 2, 2005 @ 9:47 am

    Also, I note that you fail to provide reference to any exit polls showing that Kerry ought to have been elected President, which I’ll assume means that such do not exist.

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