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Pat Robertson infuriates Christian faithful with Alzheimer's comments

September 15, 2011 |  6:15 pm

Pat_Robertson Pat Robertson has made many controversial statements over the years, such as suggesting that the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were God's punishment for the U.S. tolerating abortion and homosexuality. His critics are usually those on the politically opposite spectrum of the conservative Christian leader, or outside the Christian faith. 

But the television evangelist's most recent statements -- condoning divorce when a spouse has Alzheimer's -- appears to have offended many Christians who feel it violates the sanctity of marriage and that most cherished of marriage vows: Til death do us part.

The controversy stems from comments Robertson made recently on the "700 Club" program on Christian Broadcast Network. His comments came in response to a caller who said that a friend had begun dating other women while his wife lies seriously ill with Alzheimer's, and justifies it by saying that "his wife, as he knows her, is gone."

Robertson said he agrees with the man: "What he says basically is correct. I know it sounds cruel, but if he's going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again, but make sure she has custodial care and somebody looking after her."

His co-host pressed Robertson about whether that violates the marriage vows. Robertson responded that Alzheimer's "is a kind of death" and added, "I certainly wouldn't put a guilt trip on you" for choosing divorce in such a scenario.

The comments on Christianity Today's news blog were nearly universal in their criticism and disappointment:

"I am horrified by Robertson's response!" said one.

Many of the commenters said they were outraged, and described how they -- or a mother or father -- lovingly cared for a spouse with Alzheimer's.

 "Such irresponsible, callous comments made by Robertson. My father cared for my mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's at age 55...until the day he placed her ravaged body in the grave. He kept his vows. Be ashamed of yourself, Pat Robertson."

On Twitter, Walter Price, who identifies himself as a pastor, said: "Pat Robertson is WRONG on his alzheimers statement. Un-Christlike; unbiblical; dead wrong! So sad!"

And Russell D. Moore, dean of the school of theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., wrote in an article at Baptist Press News,  "This is more than an embarrassment. This is more than cruelty. This is a repudiation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

Robertson did not respond to an interview request from The Times submitted to Christian Broadcast Network.

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Photo: Pat Robertson. (AP Photo / Clem Britt)

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