Pat Robertson is estimated to be worth anywhere from $200 million to $1 billion. Given that he sold International Family Entertainment to Fox in 1997 for $1.9 billion, my guess is, his net worth is quite a bit more than $200 million. And then, there’s his diamond mine. Yes, a diamond mine.
In 2013, a documentary titled “Mission Congo” alleged Pat Robertson’s charity, Operation Blessing, served as a front for his diamond mine operation. To understand their charges, we have to go back to Rwanda in 1994. One million Rwandans fled their country in the wake of genocide that killed an estimated 800,000 people, and Pat Robertson went on television, begging for viewers to pledge $25 a month to Operation Blessing International. According to Robertson’s pleas, he planned to charter a 727 and travel with medical personnel and supplies to Rwanda. But according to “Mission Congo,” Robertson needed that money for something far different than saving the lives of Rwandan refugees.
One witness, a member of Doctors Without Borders, recalls that at a refugee camp overrun with cholera in Goma, he saw “one tent and a stack of Bibles.” A local remembers:
People began to refuse the Bibles. ‘What we need is food and medicine,’ they said. Operation Blessing would say, ‘That’s not our mission.’
Which begs the question: why did Pat Robertson tell his viewers he was planning on traveling with 100 doctors, if helping the sick and the poor wasn’t the mission of his charity? Where did all the money go? It seems that one of the keys to answering that question is Pat Robertson’s friendship with Mobutu Sese Seku. Pat Robertson was the sole shareholder and president of African Development Company, Ltd, a diamond mining operation. In the documentary, a reporter named Bill Sizemore claims Mobutu granted ADC a mining license when Mobutu was president of Zaire. At the time of the alleged license, the United Nations had imposed sanctions on Mobutu for human rights violations.
Oddly, Mobutu may not be the only violent dictator with whom Robertson had a friendship. According to a lawyer prosecuting former Liberian warlord, Charles Taylor, Robertson lobbied the White House on Taylor’s behalf regarding lucrative gold mining contracts. Robertson denies that claim. And in 2011, Robertson appeared on his television program in support of Laurent Gbagbo, calling him a “very fine man.” That very fine man was transferred to the International Criminal Court at the Hague, facing four charges of “crimes against humanity,” including murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, persecution, and other “inhuman acts.” But Gbagbo was Christian, and that was good enough for Pat Robertson.
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NLQ Recommended Reading …
‘Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich
‘Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland
‘Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce