Pat Robertson Marks 80th Birthday

Evangelical leaders, prosperity preachers, televangelists, and the Virginia Legislature were among those who wished Pat Robertson a happy 80th birthday Monday, touting the charismatic figure as "a compelling and compassionate spiritual leader."

Robertson's character "has always been constant, faithful, and true," commented Jack Hayford, president of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel.

"One thing I can say about Dr. Pat is that he is a man of vision, a man of faith, and … he's someone that we (young ministers like myself) can look up to. Really one of the heroes of faith," added Joel Osteen, pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston.

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As an expression of its "gratitude for his steadfast service to his fellow citizens," the Virginia Legislature presented Robertson with a copy of the resolution that it had passed to commemorate the conservative televangelist's birthday, recognizing his many contributions to the Commonwealth and his commitment to helping people in need, both spiritually and by improving their quality of life.

Robertson, whose ministry spans some five decades, founded a number of prominent organizations, including the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), Regent University, The American Center for Law and Justice, and Operation Blessing International.

His humanitarian organization, OBI, is currently the 7th largest international charity and has reportedly touched the lives of more than 215 million people in more than 105 countries and 50 states.

CBN, meanwhile, produces television programming in 80 languages to over 200 countries.

Despite his accomplishments, Robertson more often makes headlines for the controversial remarks he makes from time to time, including his call for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and comments concerning former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, whose stroke in 2006 Robertson suggested was "divine retribution."

Most recently, Robertson was chided for his remarks regarding the earthquake in Haiti, in which he brought up a pact that rebel slaves in the country had allegedly made with the devil in exchange for victory over the French in the late 18th century.

Despite the controversies, leaders including evangelist Franklin Graham expressed their appreciation Monday for Roberton's example.

"I want to thank you for the integrity that you have brought to ministry, the standards that you have set of excellence," Graham stated in a recorded message to Robertson.

"But more importantly, I thank you for being the friend to my father, friend to myself, and the encouragement that you've been in our ministries over the years," he added.

Presently, Robertson hosts The 700 Club program, which airs weekdays and is touted by CBN as one of the longest-running programs in broadcast television history.

In December 2007, Robertson passed on his duty as chief executive officer of CBN to his son, Gordon. And about one year ago, Robertson informed Regent University's Board of Trustees that he plans to retire effective July 1, 2010.

Though active as an ordained minister with the Southern Baptist Convention for many years, Robertson holds to a charismatic theology not traditionally common among Southern Baptists.

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