Pat Robertson Passes CBN Mantle to Son

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson publicly announced Monday that he has passed on his duty as chief executive officer of the Christian Broadcasting Network to his son, Gordon.

"It was time for me to pass on some of the duties that I have held for almost 50 years," Robertson said on "The 700 Club," the network's flagship show.

CBN's Board of Directors unanimously voted this past weekend to name Gordon Robertson, 49, the CEO immediately. Pat Robertson, 77, will remain chairman of the Virginia-based network.

Gordon's succession is the latest shift from older evangelical leaders to younger generation leaders within major conservative Christian media groups. In recent years, several influential organizations have named their second CEO ever to succeed the founders of the ministries who have either passed away or are nearing the end of their journey.

"It was important to pass down the line especially to somebody a little bit more adept at figuring out the new technologies coming at such a bewildering speed to all of us," Pat Robertson said.

As CEO, Gordon will lead an expanded effort to enlarge the scope of CBN's penetration into all phases of digital communications

Most recently, 34-year-old Brian E. Fisher was promoted to president and CEO of Coral Ridge Ministries – a multi-media ministry reaching 3 million people worldwide – after the passing of Dr. D. James Kennedy who died in September at 76. Kennedy founded the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based ministry in 1974, broadcasting sermons on radio, television and the Internet.

"Our goal is to follow the lead of Dr. Kennedy by using media – in new and innovative ways," said Fisher, who's leading the ministry toward reaching an audience of 30 million by 2012 through media.

Several years ago, the Rev. Franklin Graham succeeded his 89-year-old father, evangelist Billy Graham, to head the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Jerry Falwell Jr. and Jonathan Falwell have taken up the reigns of their late father the Rev. Jerry Falwell and are now leading Liberty University and Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., respectively. And it's been nearly two years since the Rev. Robert A. Schuller was named to lead the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, Calif., and the television program the "Hour of Power," succeeding his father the Rev. Robert H. Schuller.

Dr. James Dobson of major conservative evangelical group Focus on the Family bequeathed his president and CEO duties in 2003 and currently remains founder and chairman.

Although succeeding well-known influential figures, some of the younger evangelical leaders are more below the radar and have indicated that they are not pursuing visibility in the public. However, they also said they will not shy away from their Christian duty.

Gordon Robertson told The Associated Press that he has walked away from the time he was active in the Republican Party but does plan to speak out on "issues of the day."

"I think that's something ... that Christians have an obligation to do," he said. "I don't see myself shying away from that."

After leaving the practice of law to serve the ministry of CBN, Gordon Robertson spent five years in Manila in the Philippines and ran CBN's Asian operations in China, India, Indonesia, and Southeast Asia. Upon returning to the United States, Robertson assumed responsibilities in the production of "The 700 Club," CBN's national and international news, and its digital media division.