U.S. Evangelical Leaders Criticize Pat Robertson's Remarks on Sharon

Evangelical leaders on Friday asserted that televangelist Pat Robertson did not speak for them when he suggested that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was stricken by God.

Evangelical leaders on Friday asserted that televangelist Pat Robertson did not speak for them when he suggested that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who had suffered a massive stroke, was stricken by God as a punishment for ceding land to Palestinians last summer.

“I am both stunned and appalled that Pat Robertson would claim to know the mind of God concerning whether particular tragic events, such as former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination in 1995 or Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s stroke, were the judgments of God,” Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said in a statement. “Pat Robertson should know better.”

Others, such as the Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, explained that Robertson did not speak for all Evangelicals and that Sharon’s illness could be medically explained.

"Ariel Sharon is 77 years old. He's grossly overweight. He's been under pressure his whole life. So I think any doctor could have predicted he was going to have health problems," Haggard told the Los Angeles Times. "I doubt that God sovereignly is punishing him."

Both Land and Haggard were also among those Evangelicals who distanced themselves from Robertson last August, when he asserted that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez should be assassinated. The televangelist was also scorned in November when he warned the town of Dover, Pa., that it risked God’s wrath because its voters had recalled conservative school board members who favored teaching the Intelligent Design theory in science rooms.

Robertson’s latest remarks targeted Sharon, who is still in critical condition after suffering from a massive stroke last week. While calling Sharon a “delightful person” with whom he had prayed, Robertson said the Israeli authority is paying a price for “dividing God’s land.”

"God has enmity against those who divide my land,” Robertson told his 700 Club television audience. “He was dividing God's land, and I would say woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the European Union, the United Nations, or the United States of America. God says: 'This land belongs to me. You'd better leave it alone.'"

Angell Watts, spokeswoman for Robertson, said on the televangelist’s Christian Broadcasting Network website on Friday that he was simply reminding viewers of what he believed the Bible said.

However, Land, who sat next to Robertson last year at an event in Washington to honor Sharon, had other ideas on what the Bible taught.

“A far greater expert on God’s will than Pat Robertson will ever be, the Apostle Paul, declared, ‘O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!’” Land said, quoting Romans 11.

“The Bible clearly reveals God to be a God of justice and righteousness as well as a God of forgiveness and mercy. Does God judge? Yes. However, whether or not a particular event is God’s judgment is something that the Apostle Paul has told us is ‘past finding out.’ No one ‘hath known the mind of the Lord,’” he said.