“Mission Congo” Exposes Robertson’s Greed

The film Mission Congo premiers at the Tiff Film Festival this week:

Death, diamonds and greed. A charismatic US businessman pursues an irresistible opportunity during one of the worst humanitarian crises of modern times.

Televangelist, multi-millionaire, and leader of the religious right, Pat Robertson is a man on a mission. During an escalating refugee crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Robertson took to the airwaves of the Christian Broadcasting Network to raise money for his charity Operation Blessing International. He attracted millions of dollars in donations for relief projects in the Congo. Later, he deemed the mission a success, broadcasting footage of himself being warmly embraced by children in refugee camps.

With Mission Congo, filmmakers David Turner and Lara Zizic conduct a deep investigation based on years of research into what Operation Blessing actually accomplished. They interview aid workers, eyewitnesses and even the pilots of Robertson’s airplanes who describe a different mission: diamonds. With the help of a brutal dictator and ex- Navy SEALS, Robertson was diverting his planes away from refugee camps to a different part of the Congo to extract precious gems. If the devil is in the details, here the details are jaw-dropping as we confront the disconnect between what Robertson promised and what others experienced.

The Guardian has more:

Throughout the Rwandan refugee crisis, when more than 1 million people fled into neighbouring Zaire and started dying en masse of cholera, Robertson told his viewers that Operation Blessing was at the forefront of saving lives. [...]

Robertson claimed that Operation Blessing sent plane-loads of doctors.

“These are tents set up with our doctors and our medical teams that came from here to work as hard as they could to save lives,” Robertson said over pictures of a large tent of children on drips being tended by nurses and doctors.

But the film was of MSF medical staff at work. Operation Blessing had just one tent and a total of seven doctors. MSF officials who worked in Goma told the documentary-makers that they had no recollection of even seeing Operation Blessing – let alone working with it. [...]

Officials from other aid operations said that Operation Blessing was not anywhere near the first or largest groups working in Goma. Jessie Potts, the operations manager for Robertson in Goma in 1994, told Mission Congo that the medicines that did arrive were not of great use in fighting the cholera epidemic.

“We got a lot of Tylenol. Too much. I never did understand that. We got enough Tylenol to supply all of Zaire. God, I never saw as much in my life,” he said.

I’ve heard these accusations before, but it looks like the film makers are really putting journalism behind the charges.

  • evodevo

    Duh! This is really OLD news – and obviously didn’t hurt his money-grubbing televangelical empire the first time. Wonder why they are making an issue out of it now? Christian suckers have been falling for these types of scam artists almost since the inception of the religion 2000 years ago (see The Didache and its cautions against itinerant prophets). PT Barnum was right.

  • mikespeir

    I’m ashamed to admit that as a Christian I was a sucker for this guy.

  • Artor

    Huh. I always new Robertson was a worthless, amoral sonofabitch, but I didn’t guess he was this evil. It’s not the least bit surprising though. Remember, you will know them by their love…

  • Mick

    Most of his parishioners have probably never heard the story.

    Many who have heard it will assume it’s a lie.

    Those who know it is true will probably convince themselves that a rogue accountant invested the money in the diamond mines and ‘Dear old Mr Robertson had no idea what was happening.’

  • Fred

    Wow, what an evil bastard.

    Why does God never smite the fuckers who abuse his name like that? Oh right, because he doesn’t exist.
    Religion makes great camoflage for psychopaths. You don’t have to actually do anything good, just pretend to believe in your heart and then you’re part of the tribe and can rob people of their money. It is robbery, to obtain funds for one thing and use them for something else. It’s fraud. He’s stolen money from kind-hearted people and he’s robbed the people of Congo of aid that was rightfully theirs. Let’s hope he gets disgraced and sued for all he’s worth.

    • The Other Weirdo

      I’ve heard people say that once they give money, they wash their hands of the whole affair. Basically, it’s a way to make yourself feel better about something and then never having to think about it at all. That’s why they question what happens to it afterwards.

  • LesterBallard

    Most of his followers will defend him and cry persecution. Fuck Robertson and frankly, fuck those who get ripped off by shit stains like Robertson.

  • http://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/ Lothar Lorraine

    Hello folks.

    You know certainly that there are many Christians (at least in Europe) who are grossed out by the attitude of Robertson, right?

    This is just one additional example of a sinful human tendency to use God or the gods as a perfect legetimation for one’s own behavior.

    In that context, I find it rather interesting that when Jesus threatened people with hell, they never were whores, tax collectors, gluttons and so on but very religious men lacking compassion.

    Lovely greetings from France and Germany.
    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son


    Sinclair Lewis nailed it with “Elmer Gantry”, back in 1926. This book should be required reading for every school child in America.

  • KBM

    I have personal knowledge of some of these issues. Sad to report here, but I at one time worked for Robertson, late 80′s. Operation Rescue was always a front that used the US TAX EXEMPT SYSTEM to enrich Pat and his cronies! I subsequently lived for a couple of years in DRC, and count the former dictator’s son as a friend. The stories are actually worse then you can imagine, but Pat’s supporters will believe that Pat is being attacked by the devils people or some such garbage. It is pathetic to the core what this man does and believes. I should know.