Documentary alleges that Pat Robertson made millions on a phantom charity.

A new documentary has been released which digs into Pat Robertson’s charity mission to the Congo: Operation Blessing.  While the operation allowed Robertson to raise millions of dollars, those who worked with it claim it hardly existed.  Here is an excerpt from an article about it all.  There’s so much more, so I encourage you to read the whole thing.

“It was the most important first medical shipment on the scene out of everything,” he said of one aid delivery as he appealed for donations.
In another broadcast, Robertson said Operation Blessing was saving thousands of lives.

“The death toll in this particular camp went down to almost zero because of our people being there,” he said.

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.

“What’s really unacceptable is that Operation Blessing took photographs of MSF workers and then used this in their fundraising,” said Samantha Bolton, the former MSF spokeswoman in Goma.

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.

Then, Potts said, suddenly everything changed. “Operation Blessing, several weeks into the operation, decided not to send any more medical teams,” he said. The flights to Goma dried up.

Robert Hinkle, the chief pilot for Operation Blessing in Zaire in 1994, said he received new orders. “They began asking me: can we haul a thousand-pound dredge over? I didn’t know what the dredging deal was about,” he said.

The documentary describes how dredges, used to suck up diamonds from river beds, were delivered hundreds of miles from the crisis in Goma to a private commercial firm, African Development Company, registered in Bermuda and wholly owned by Robertson. ADC held a mining concession near the town of Kamonia on the far side of the country.

“Mission after mission was always just getting eight-inch dredgers, six-inch dredgers … and food supplies, quads, jeeps, out to the diamond dredging operation outside of Kamonia,” Hinkle told the film-makers.

The pilot said he joined Operation Blessing to help people. Of the 40 flights he flew into Congo, just two delivered aid. The others were associated with the diamond mining. “We’re not doing anything for those people,” he said. “After several months I was embarrassed to have Operation Blessing on the airplane’s tail.” He had the lettering removed.

I’ve never seen a religious person perform a morally good act that a secular person could/would not…but I’ve sure seen religious people get away with all kinds of things they wouldn’t have if not for the cross around their neck and pulpit.

PERSONAL: Cancer sucks.
FAITH: Woman burns down yoga studio to “get rid of the devil’s temple.”
About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • baal

    Diamond mining? While I’m sure diamond mines on the up and up exist somewhere in Africa, the term “blood diamond” doesn’t have to do with their coloration so much as what it costs to get them out of the ground.

  • Silent Service

    Has this been confirmed? If so, these are actionable accusations. I’d love to see that demented old ghoul behind bars if he’s doing this.

    • unbound55

      Pat has been linked to other diamond mining scams in Africa before, so this really isn’t surprising or unique. If I remember correctly (late 90s newspaper article), he was already linked with using the Operation Blessing planes for diamonds in Liberia (and something sketchy about how he got the diamond rights in that country).

  • unbound55

    It’s undated, but from references in the article, it would be 1999 or 2000. Looks like this was known back then –

    • Spuddie

      If the mining was done after 1996 it would definitely be a “blood diamond” operation. Congo was being torn apart by the “African World War”. Goma was one of the first cities taken over by invading Rwandan forces and their allies during that conflict. Forced labor was common.