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.