Televangelist Pat Robertson made some startling statements on his Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) TV show, The 700 Club. While answering a viewer’s question about acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), he suggested that people in the San Francisco gay community who have AIDS walk around wearing rings with little razors so they can purposefully cut people and cause infection.
Robertson and his co-host Terry Meeuwsen were responding to a viewer’s question, asking if she should have been notified that a man she was driving from a nursing home to church, and back, over the course of a few months, had AIDS. “I found out two weeks ago he was dying of AIDS … I feel deceived — what if we had an accident?"
“Did someone have a moral obligation to tell the drivers the truth? I haven’t been back to church since I found out. I’m going somewhere else until I sort this out," the viewer said.
Pat Robertson's Advice
At first, Robertson said that he used to think AIDS “was transmitted by saliva and other things, now they say it may be sexual contact.” He encouraged the woman to continue driving the man, but advised her not to have sex with him and to avoid exchanging bodily fluids. His advice then began to take a turn for the worse.
“There are laws now. I think the homosexual community has put these draconian laws on the books that prohibit people from discussing this particular affliction,” he said. “You can tell somebody you had a heart attack, you can tell them you’ve got high blood pressure, but you can’t tell anybody you’ve got AIDS.”
Meeuwsen came to the defense of those with AIDS, saying that she’s known “many people with AIDS, and have never felt fearful of a scenario like this, even if you got in a car accident.” Robertson interjected, however, and what followed was shocking.
“You know what they do in San Francisco, some in the gay community there, they want to get people. So if they got the stuff, they’ll have a ring — you shake hands and the rings got a little thing where you cut your finger,” he said.
“Really?” Meeuwsen asked.
“Yeah, really. It’s that kind of vicious stuff, which would be the equivalent of murder.”
The Aftermath of Pat Robertson's Statements
CBN edited the video and attempted to rid the Internet of all videos containing the exchange. Robertson defended his remarks in a statement to The Atlantic, saying, “In my own experience, our organization sponsored a meeting years ago in San Francisco where trained security officers warned me about shaking hands because, in those days, certain AIDS-infected activists were deliberately trying to infect people like me by virtue of rings which would cut fingers and transfer blood.”
He said his remarks were only misunderstood, and were in no way “meant as an indictment of the homosexual community, or, for that fact, to those infected with this dreadful disease.” He said he was misunderstood because “people do no listen to the context of remarks.” But you can judge for yourself in the video below.
The 700 Club is a live program that has been on air since 1966, and is watched daily by about one million people, according to CBN. The show is also broadcast worldwide in 138 countries to an audience of about 360 million people a year.
People who have human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or AIDS can only transmit the diseases by blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, vaginal fluids, and rectal mucus. This can happen during sexual contact, pregnancy, injection drug use, and blood transfusions. For the disease to spread, it must come in contact with mucus membrane or damaged tissue, or be injected directly into the bloodstream. Additionally, AIDS is neither a gay thing nor something associated with “draconian” laws. Partner-notification laws actually require anyone with AIDS or HIV to disclose their condition to their sexual or needle-sharing partners, although it’s up to their discretion to notify anyone else.