cover image The Empire God Built: Inside Pat Robertson's Media Machine

The Empire God Built: Inside Pat Robertson's Media Machine

Alec Foege. John Wiley & Sons, $24.95 (242pp) ISBN 978-0-471-15993-3

Foege describes Robertson as ""the archconservative equivalent of Madonna, the pseudo-outrageous pop icon."" A better description, judging from this book, might be Elmer Gantry with a satellite dish. The son of a Democratic senator from Virginia, Robertson was married only after his first child was conceived, according to Foege. After a stint as a non-combat Marine in the Korean War, he attended Yale Law School, but failed to pass the New York Bar exam. He later attended a charismatic seminary, then had trouble holding down a job in New York as a minister. Returning to Virginia he purchased a TV station with financial help from his father, and established the Christian Broadcasting Network as a nonprofit corporation. He hired Jim and Tammy Bakker to host what soon became The 700 Club. He eventually hosted the show himself and used it as a springboard for his 1988 presidential campaign. He was subsequently fined $25,000 by the Federal Election Commission for breaking a law that prohibits presidential hopefuls from fund-raising before declaring themselves as candidates. Foege, a contributing editor for Rolling Stone, aims to debunk Robertson's faith-healing and his claim that he commanded a hurricane to bypass Virginia. His involvement with the Christian Coalition and his establishment of Regent University are criticized as well, as being primarily cash cows for Robertson. Those who agree with Foege's take on Robertson will find this an eye-opening look at how to be an entrepreneur using tax-free donations as a fiscal base. (Oct.)