Robertson: God's Wrath Hit Sharon?

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson talks during an interview at the Christian Broadcasting Network Oct. 14, 2003, in Virgina Beach, Va. Robertson's "age-defying" diet shake is causing quite a stir. At least one evangelical watchdog group has claimed that Robertson is abusing his nonprofit status and Phil Busch, 41, a bodybuilder, fitness trainer and motivational speaker from Dallas, is exploring legal action. (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot, Mort Fryman) AP

Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson suggested Thursday that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke was divine punishment for "dividing God's land."

"God considers this land to be his," Robertson said on his TV program "The 700 Club." "You read the Bible and he says 'This is my land,' and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says, 'No, this is mine."'

Sharon, who ordered Israel's withdrawal from Gaza last year, suffered a severe stroke on Wednesday.

In Robertson's broadcast from his Christian Broadcasting Network in Virginia Beach, the evangelist said he had personally prayed about a year ago with Sharon, whom he called "a very tender-hearted man and a good friend." He said he was sad to see Sharon in this condition.

He also said, however, that in the Bible, the prophet Joel "makes it very clear that God has enmity against those who 'divide my land.'"

Robertson added, "I would say woe to any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the EU, the United Nations, or the United States of America."

He noted that former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated.

Robertson said God's message is, "This land belongs to me. You'd better leave it alone."

The comments came on "The 700 Club," broadcast from Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network in Virginia Beach.

Robertson spokeswoman Angell Watts did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.

People For the American Way Foundation, which monitors "The 700 Club," criticized Robertson's remarks. The group's president, Ralph Neas, said in a statement that Robertson "leaves us speechless with his insensitivity and arrogance."

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said a religious leader "should not be making callous political points while a man is struggling for his life."

"Pat Robertson has a political agenda for the entire world, and he seems to think God is ready to take out any world leader who stands in the way of that agenda," Lynn said in a statement.

Robertson spokeswoman Angell Watts said of critics who challenged his remarks, "What they're basically saying is, 'How dare Pat Robertson quote the Bible?'"

"This is what the word of God says," Watts said. "This is nothing new to the Christian community."

In August, Robertson suggested on "The 700 Club" that American agents should assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Robertson later apologized for his remarks.
  • Christine Lagorio

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