Addressing the outrage over Pat Robertson's polarizing comments regarding Alzheimer's disease being a "kind of death" that would make divorce permissible, Robertson's show, "The 700 Club," issued a statement to concerned viewers through its Facebook page.
In a comment published on "The 700 Club" Facebook page Thursday, the program moderator wrote:
Thank you for sharing your concern about Pat Robertson's response to a BringIt On Question about a friend's wife in the late stages of Alzheimer's.
Having had many close friends struggle through Alzheimer's, Pat has seen the devastating impact that it has on not only the spouse with the disease, but especially the caregiver whose quality of life also becomes completely debilitated by it.
While the anger over Robertson's comments has failed to subside, many comments on "The 700 Club's" Facebook page reflected a wide range of opinions, ranging from anger over Robertson's alleged Bible misinterpretations to slight agreements with his viewpoint. One commenter also defended Robertson because he is an "anointed man."
Sheryl Lynn believed Robertson grossly misinterpreted Scripture, writing in response to "The 700 Club" Facebook statement, "Sorry Pat, you blew it this time! Your OPINION/teaching is NOT BIBLICAL." Lynn also quoted Malachi 2:16.
Robin Webb said that Robertson was essentially condoning "cheating," insisting the former televangelist was "biblically wrong."
Webb added, "All he has managed to do was appease the guilt someone was feeling for seeing someone else while his wife is dying. A sin is still a sin. Cheating while you are married is still cheated regardless of whether the other spouse is ill and dying or not."
People reacting to the Facebook statement who had experience with Alzheimer's, either from working in health care or having family members who have suffered through the disease, were mostly against Robertson, saying that even though Alzheimer's can be very painful on everyone, it is necessary to stick by that person's side.
Kay Wilson Seiler said, "As a former home health nurse, I've seen the devastation of Alzheimer's, including physical aggression, but I can't advocate a 'use 'em up, throw 'em away' attitude."
Debbie Vogel said, "Alzheimer's is a terminal disease, just as heart disease and cancer are terminal diseases. Both of my parents suffered with this disease. I find it very offensive that someone would claim my parents were ‘kind of dead’ years before they finally died."
However, some were on Robertson's side, saying that even if he made a mistake, he should not be chastised because of his past reputation.
"Who are we to judge for only God can judge, are you without sin?" Tina Sauls wrote. "Cast the first stone. Pat shared his opinion, but he is a mortal man, yet he is an anointed man, and God says do no harm unto my anointed, this includes slurs."
Tim Cawthon, who has had personal experience with Alzheimer's, disagreed with Pat but still defended him.
"My Mother had this disease for over 10 years before it took her life," Cawthon said. "We never had the thought of walking away from it because she needed us and we needed her. I heard the response that Pat made on the news (Nightline). Everyone misspeaks from time to time and I believe that this is what he did...we still love him."
Meanwhile, others believe that Robertson had a point, saying the evangelical's words were taken out of context.
Debi Andrews Rogers said, "I regret everyone took this out of context. The point was that this person was DATING. I have seen it many times as a nurse. I respect those who do stay but I also have seen Alzheimer's people be very cruel and mean and bite and kick. He was very clear to provide safe custodial care of loved one. But if you choose to date you should not be married as that is adultery. It is a hard answer."
Earlier this week, Robertson advised, without citing any Scriptural support, that a married man dating another woman because his wife was suffering from Alzheimer's "should divorce and start all over."
"I hate Alzheimer's. It is one of the most awful things because, here is a loved one, this is the woman or man that you have loved for 20, 30, 40 years, and suddenly, that person is gone. They're gone. They are gone. So, what he says, basically, is correct," the Christian broadcaster said.
Co-host Terry Meeuwsen appeared alarmed by Robertson's comments. She interjected, noting that couples vow to remain together "for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer."
Robertson responded that if people respect those vows they will also keep in mind the part that says "until death do us part." He added that Alzheimer's "is a kind of death."
The controversial "700 Club" host also said he would not put a "guilt trip" on someone who divorced for such a reason.
However, before deserting your spouse with a debilitating disease, make sure they have "custodial care" and someone to look after them, Robertson said.
The former televangelist did advise the viewer who submitted the question to "get some ethicist besides me to give you the answer."