Pat Robertson's Pathetic Predictions

At the beginning of last year, I mentioned a prediction made by Pat Robertson:

As reported by Americans United, Pat Robertson has joined in the fun, predicting “mass killings” to occur on American soil due to a terrorist attack sometime this year. (Robertson said he expected this to come in the form of a nuclear attack, but emphasized that this was only his educated guess – as opposed to the rest of this prophecy, which was clearly straight from God’s mouth and not at all just made up.)

The video of this prediction can be viewed here. The prophecy in question comes around the two-minute mark, where Robertson forecasts “very serious terrorist attacks” against America, resulting in “mass killings… possibly [of] millions of people”, and “major cities injured”.

By now, I think we can safely assume that this is another prophetic failure. The only question is, was Pat Robertson making up prophecies on his own initiative and attributing them to God, or was it God himself who blew it?

In either case, Robertson does not have a good track record as a fortuneteller. This latest embarrassment joins a long string of failures chronicled by AU (see also):

  • In 1980, Robertson predicted the start of World War III, telling his audience that God said the year would be full of “sorrow and bloodshed that will have no end soon, for the world is being torn apart, and my kingdom shall rise from the ruins of it.” He also prophecied in the same year that the Soviet Union would invade the Middle East to seize its oil reserves.
  • In 1988, Robertson claimed that God told him to run for president. He did not win the Republican primary.
  • In his 1991 book The New World Order, Robertson forecast that U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller would be elected president in 1996.
  • In 1998, Robertson threatened that, as punishment for flying rainbow flags during Disney World’s annual Gay Days event, the city of Orlando would be struck by “earthquakes, tornadoes and possibly a meteor”.
  • In 2004, Robertson predicted that George W. Bush would win reelection in “a blowout”. Although Bush was reelected, it was by 50.7% to 48.3% – the closest ever margin for a sitting president.
  • In January 2006, Robertson forecast that the U.S. midterm elections would leave the Republican party in control of Congress. He also predicted that the Iraq war would “come to a successful conclusion” that year and U.S. troops would begin withdrawing.
  • Robertson also predicted in 2006 that devastating storms and hurricanes would lash the U.S. coast. He must have thought this a particularly safe guess, but in fact no hurricanes made landfall in the U.S. in that year.

Of course, Robertson has suffered no fallout from these repeated failures. Like most religious phonies, he can count on his followers never doing any follow-up work. He can make whatever absurd guesses he likes, and his devoted true believers will oblige him by forgetting about all the ones that fail to pan out. (Or, like many other failed apocalyptic prophets, he can claim that the disaster was going to occur but was averted just in time by the prayers of his followers – a time-tested excuse hinted at in the video.) The usual pattern is, if any prophecies do come true, for the prophet to endlessly remind his followers of that fact and counting on their being awed and amazed. However, I’m not aware of any major predictions made by Robertson that turned out successful.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Alex, FCD

    In 1998, Robertson threatened that, as punishment for flying rainbow flags during Disney World’s annual Gay Days event, the city of Orlando would be struck by “earthquakes, tornadoes and possibly a meteor”.

    Possibly a meteor”? What kind of divine revelation is that?

    “Well, Pat, the tornadoes and earthquakes are a lock, but I’m just not sure if I can book a meteor for that weekend.”

  • Eric

    If by “blowout” he meant “doctored election”, Robertson’s predictions for 2004 were entirely correct. Hurricane related flooding would have been a better prediction for Orlando. Allison rained 20 inches on Houston after raining on us for three days and shut parts of the city down for a week. The Downtown tunnels were closed for a month and UH barely dried out for the fall semester. A similar disaster woud have been a one-year financial knockout to Orlando.

  • James Bradbury

    Wow, how can he be that wrong that often? It’s almost uncanny. ;)

  • http://yetanotheratheistblog.blogspot.com/ YAAB

    I predict that these religious phonies will continue to make predictions that fail to come true. Does this make me a prophet? If so, please send cash!

  • http://thechapel.wordpress.com the chaplain

    You said,

    he can claim that the disaster was going to occur but was averted just in time by the prayers of his followers.

    In addition to the prayers of the faithful masses, Robertson and his cronies may also claim that God spared America from untold disasters because His Godly Servant, George W. Bush, is in office. Had we been foolish enough to elect a less Godly man (or worse yet, a non-believer!) – well, don’t say they didn’t warn us of the consequences!

  • Mrnaglfar

    Bill Maher’s Real Time about Pat Robertson’s Law school and it’s relation to the Bush Administration; Really scary stuff honestly.

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=b0sNJhphi7U&feature=related

  • Bechamel

    Dear Mr. Muse,
    Normally you’re spot-on, but I must take issue with a couple of your accusations against Mr. Robertson.

    In 1980, [...] God said the year would be full of “sorrow [...] that will have no end soon, [...]“

    This was the year that saw Ronald Reagan elected. He’d last eight years. Are you sure this was wrong?

    In 1988, Robertson claimed that God told him to run for president. He did not win the Republican primary.

    Oh ye of little faith! God obviously realized that ol’ Pat needed some humbling. It’s not His fault Pat can’t take a hint.

    In 1998, Robertson threatened that, as punishment for flying rainbow flags during Disney World’s annual Gay Days event, the city of Orlando would be struck by “earthquakes, tornadoes and possibly a meteor”.

    It was! It’s not Pat’s fault that whenever anyone tries to scientifically analyze God’s work, all evidence of it miraculously vanishes. It’s a test of faith; who are you going to believe—Pat Robertson or your lying eyes?

    In 2004, Robertson predicted that George W. Bush would win reelection in “a blowout”. Although Bush was reelected, it was by 50.7% to 48.3% – the closest ever margin for a sitting president.

    Well, if you compare it to 2000, when Bush was elected by the margin of 47.9% to 48.4% for Gore, 2.4% seems almost as much a blowout as last night’s Rose and Sugar Bowls.

    In January 2006, Robertson forecast that the U.S. midterm elections would leave the Republican party in control of Congress.

    Are you kidding? Just because the elephants don’t outnumber the donkeys, that certainly doesn’t mean they’re not still in control. Have you been paying any attention to the goings-on in Washington the past year?

    This post is a blot on an otherwise stellar blogging career, Ebon. I trust that in the future, you will check your facts better, and return to the quality posting we’ve seen in previous years.

    Sincerely*,
    Steve in Grover Beach, CA (aka Bechamel)

    *And by “sincerely”, I mean “tongue planted so firmly in cheek that I think it’s breaking skin”. Cheers!

  • http://thechapel.wordpress.com the chaplain

    Bechamel – ROFLMAO! Great, insightful analysis.

  • http://theperplexedobserver.blogspot.com/ TPO

    He also predicted the confirmation of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court and the retirement of a “liberal” justice, and a strengthening of Bush’s and the Republican Party’s power in Washington.

    I don’t think Bush’s power has strengthened but he sure likes to wield what he does have. As for the Republican Party, I seriously hope that a majority of Americans will not put one of that cluster f$%k of idiots into the White House in 2008.

    Oh well, at least he got the Alito thing right, but that was more of an educated guess than a successful prediction considering the make up of our government at the time.

  • http://braving-the-elements.blogspot.com Aa

    Take home message:

    Pat Robertson’s Pathetic!

  • http://thereligiousatheist.com plonkee @ the religious atheist

    Can this guy predict anything right? It seems from this selective showing that he’s uncannily bad – maybe I should follow what he says and then assume that it definitely won’t come true.

  • Eric

    I predict the state of New Jersey will have a revolt id the panel of judges does not overturn this decision:

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,877155,00.html

    I am horrified by THIS little gem.

  • OMGF

    Eric,
    Is the date on that article accurate? I just clicked on it and the date is listed as Monday, Dec. 07, 1970.

  • nfpendleton

    1970? Oh, no. Another victim of the Y2K bug!

  • Robert Madewell

    Robertson is quoted on wikipedia as saying, “I have a relatively good track record, Sometimes I miss.” However, according to the book that Pat claims is inerrant, if he is ever wrong, he is a false prophet.

    ( When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him. Deuteronomy 18:22)

    By Pats own admission he is a false prophet.

  • Alex Weaver

    I predict the state of New Jersey will have a revolt id the panel of judges does not overturn this decision:

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,877155,00.html

    I am horrified by THIS little gem.

    As mentioned, the article is from 1970. Apparently someone was in a little too much of a hurry to make sure that the article template didn’t automatically change the listed date for the story (its original publishing, I assume) to the last time the archived copy of the article was edited (discussion here). Sadly, it’s all too plausible in today’s legislative and political climate.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    Fortunately, the 1970 case had a happy ending: the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in favor of the parents and overturned the lower court decision that barred them from adopting because they were atheists. Score another one for the First Amendment.

  • Randy Laue

    Somebody please get Pat Robertson to predict World Peace as an unobtainable goal. Maybe then it’ll finally happen.

  • OMGF
  • N

    Religion – promoting itself through fear since some guys invented it to gain control of the common people

  • wolfbittensheep

    I watched the 700 Club every day until I made some phone calls in to their prayer line for prayer. More than once, I was treated badly. The last straw came when I was trying to get their help on getting a marriage law changed in our
    country–getting it changed so people on some government disability programs would not lose their income or medical benefits if they marry–but are allowed by law to keep them if they just live together in sin without ever getting married and never lose their income and medical benefits if they do that. I needed their support in getting these laws changed. But when I contacted them about it, I was treated shamefully enough that I stopped sending them any more $$$$$$$. It was then that I FINALLY figured out that these people have their own narrow minded agenda and have no interest in the plight of others.

    But guess what! Despite the fact that I have asked them not to be calling me anymore and THEY SAY they will remove my name from their list–I still get calls from them in hopes I will donate to them. These people are absolutely incredible! I cannot help wondering how many other sheep are trying to heal the wolf bites they have gotten from the likes of these people.

    As far as Pat’s predictions go–I’m not impressed. Because I know the true colors here, it is hard to take him & these other TV evangelists seriously.

    I would also like to know THE TRUE EXTENT of any help that comes from what they call operation blessing. They like to go by weight in pounds when telling how much they gave to help the poor–But we must remember some foods like potatoes, yams & carrots weigh heavily & it doesn’t take many to make up a pound. Are these groceries they give to the poor enough to really help or just a one or two day ration? Just a thought to consider.

  • Dutch

    Wolfbitten,

    It’s too bad this happened to you. I wonder how much money actually goes to help the needy. I suspect mr. Robertson leads quite a nice lifestyle – kind off reminds me of a phil Collins video I saw years ago. This not only applies to TV preachers, but goes for local churches as well. I am always amazed at the gullability of people.
    Personally, I wouldn’t follow a minister unless he/she leads a very simple life. No fancy cars, clothes or house; ideally never ask for money, but if he does, it is to go to help our fellow human beings.

    Pat Robertson’s prediction of a massive attack isn’t such a big risk, after all even our intelligence service knows this. Will it happen; I would bet my house on it. When? I don’t know – probably after a period of relative peace.

    Take care, Dutch

  • Rachel MIller

    This is unbelievable. I have relatives who work closely with Pat and the 700 Club and have attended his university, Regent. I have read other comments made by him, many of which are truly sickening. One of his real gems: On a lighter note, do any of you remember when it was in the news a couple of years ago that Pat claimed on his show that he was bench pressing more than the strongest of NFL players, just by drinking his miracle health juice that he was selling? I’m trying to laugh at that one, because it’s either laugh or cry. And here’s another of his gems, which I can’t even force myself to laugh at, because it truly makes me see red: “The key in terms of mental ability is chess. There’s never been a woman Grand Master chess player. Once you get one, then I’ll buy some of the feminism.”

    Not only were there several women who were Grand Masters at the time, (but who would expect Pat to get his facts correct?) but it is ludicrous that he has decided that chess is the one and only indicator of intelligenge. Unbelievable.

  • John Gerorgiton

    When Pat Robertson ran for president it was my understanding that he spent around $12 million dollars and only got on delegate vote at the Republican national convention. If god told him to run for President he was either playing a joke on Pat or Pat was Lying that he talked to god. I think it was the second item.

  • http://www.extheist.net Janus Grayden

    Like any charlatan, he knows that one right guess is all it takes.

  • Frank Corrales

    i wish “GOD” would talk to me. I’d love to know when the world will be rid of Rush Limbaughs boyfriend.

  • Mark

    Pat Robertson also predicted in 1992, when Bill Clinton was running for his first term as president, that God had revealed to him that President Bush Sr. would get reelected. OOOPS!!!!


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