Several news sites have accused televangelist Pat Robertson, host of CBN's "The 700 Club," of pushing a prosperity gospel after he encouraged viewers to join the Club for $20 a month following a story about a Christian family that came out bankruptcy.
Opposing Views and Raw Story both claimed that Robertson was asking "poor families who could not pay their bills" to "send him $20 a month," but the actual CBN video where the televangelist explains his comments does not quite tie in with those alleged statements.
"They were faithful," Robertson concluded following a CBN report on the story of D.L. and Deborah Hobby, a Christian husband and wife who kept on tithing despite going bankrupt. Eventually, their business started to rebound, and two years later they were back on their feet – thanking God for giving them hope that things can get better.
"Our finances have been restored because of Him," Deborah Hobby said. "And I believe it was because of us continuing to tithe, and us putting God first in our lives."
Robertson added: "Listen, there is no way you can outgive God. You can't do it. And that which is given to him will come back 30, 60 and 100 fold."
"We encourage you to join the 700 Club," the televangelist continued. "It's just $20 a month. And if all of us do it together, it gets to be millions and millions and millions of dollars." In the segment, Robertson also promoted a CBN DVD about people's experiences with the afterlife – but did not suggest that families should neglect their bills in order to "give him money."
The prosperity gospel is a controversial subject among Christians, with some interpreting passages in the Bible to mean that devotion to God and financial contributions to churches can result in material blessings – though many reject those beliefs and stress that the Bible does not promise financial awards.
Earlier this month, Robertson claimed that a prayer he made on the air was answered for one of his viewers. He had prayed that a given member of his viewing audience would receive a much needed million dollars. A couple weeks later, he said someone identified only as "a businessman" apparently got a check for that amount.
Robertson has often faced criticism both from conservatives and liberals for his remarks on "The 700 Club." Late last year he said that science has shown the Young Earth Creation theory that the Earth is only 6,000 years old to be false – and was harshly criticized by Ken Ham, CEO and founder of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum.
"You go back in time, you have carbon dating, all these things, and you have the carcasses of dinosaurs frozen in time." Robertson said on his show. "They are out there. And so there was a time when these giant raptors were on the earth and it was before the time of the Bible. So don't try to cover it up and make like everything was 6,000 years, that's not the Bible."