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"Minister Calls for Assassination"… Whaaat?

08/25/2005

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez with Cuba's Communist leader Fidel Castro.

Freedom affords us many privileges. We are free to speak, express our views and voice our convictions. Yet we must speak responsibly, or unnecessary damage and pain will occur. Shouting "Fire!" in a crowd or "Bomb!" on an airplane can create panic, cause injury and even result in death.

Now we have a well-known Christian minister calling for the assassination of a sovereign country's president. "If [Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez] thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it," Pat Robertson said on his show, The 700 Club. "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war."

Pat is a friend of mine. I believe he has been a positive influence in our country for spiritual and family values. Our organizations have worked together to deliver emergency supplies to suffering people around the world. He has personally lived the "American Dream," rising from a humble childhood to a position of influence and success. Because of my relationship and respect for him, I feel compelled to respond to his statement.

Suggesting that the United States adopt a policy of assassination is, to put it bluntly, foolish. It is damaging to our relationship with Venezuela, America's worldwide perception and Pat's reputation as both a Christian and a leader. 

I have personally communicated my thoughts with my fellow minister, but as a Christian leader I believe that it is important to publicly take a stand on this issue.

Pat once told me that Christian leaders "should be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves," if we want to win in areas of influence. He pointed out that Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King and other great leaders of peace had great impact because they wisely adopted a position of harmlessness to disarm their critics and win the hearts of the masses.

Pat said, "What makes snakes effective and wise is that they remain hidden and unseen and, therefore, accomplish their purpose. When a snake exposes itself to its enemies, it can be killed with a stick." He told us that as conservatives, we tend to expose ourselves to criticism by speaking recklessly and foolishly.

Pat should remember his own wise counsel. 

At a time when hard-line Muslim leaders call for the assassination of George W. Bush and Tony Blair, the last thing we need is Christian leaders doing the same. Needless killing must always be avoided, as demonstrated through the capture of Saddam in Iraq, Milosovic in Serbia and Noriega in Panama. All of those dictators needed to be removed for the good of the entire world, but none of them was assassinated.

Robertson's statement only backfired, prompting him to quickly apologize. Terrorists need no reason to spread destruction and death, but this isolated comment will be immediately inserted into their playbook as proof of America's role as the "Great Satan." They will ignore his apology, disregard every other pronouncement of peace, and endlessly repeat Robertson's miscue.

Certainly, dictators and terrorists must be stopped. Politically, we want the likes of Osama bin Laden, Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez brought to justice or at least rendered ineffective. Spiritually, we pray for these leaders to have a "Damascus Road experience," not a bullet in the head. (The Bible tells of Saul of Tarsus, who persecuted and killed Christians until a supernatural vision on a journey to the city of Damascus altered him so profoundly that his name was changed to Paul, and he became the most influential Christian of all time.)

In the course of American history, we have counted England, Mexico, Japan, Germany and Vietnam as enemies; yet today, they are all friends. Surely we can hope and pray for reconciliation with Venezuela. War must be avoided if possible; however, sometimes it takes the right fight, or the right war for the right reasons. There are times to fight and defend the innocent, the suffering and the blessings of freedom. Yes, it is noble to fight to the death when necessary—but we should advocate peace above all.

Just as David faced and killed Goliath, the giant who mocked God's people and freedom, we must also boldly face evil—first in our own lives and then courageously and compassionately in the lives of others. In the end, only wisdom and love will prevail. Until then, we "pray without ceasing," "fight the good fight," and "let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God."

Pat Robertson's words were wrong. Even so, he is still my friend. Most of President Chávez' actions and words are wrong. I pray for the day when America will again call Venezuela her friend. 

I will continue to love Pat Robertson and my other brothers in Christ -- even when I think they misspeak or find themselves on the wrong side of an issue -- just as I desire to be treated when I fail or miss the mark. I will handle them with care and intercession. After personally speaking with Pat, I know that he truly regrets his comment and I am confident that he will be even more careful with future statements, as I know he only wants the best for others.

I will also continue to pray that Hugo Chávez experience the very life and love of God. May all who wish to bring pain and suffering on the innocent be brought to justice or experience the transforming mercy that can make "all things new."



Author: James Robison

Word Count: 925

About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, an international humanitarian aid ministry; host of the television program, Life Today; and author of The Absolutes.

Media Contact: Randy Robison, randy.robison at loi.org

Photo available upon request. Reprint rights granted with attribution for complete, unedited article. Revisions allowed only with approval.

 

 



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