It’s perhaps no surprise that televangelist Pat Robertson — famous for taking aim at everything that doesn’t fit his worldview — has now fired a shot at Buddhism. Today on his Christian Broadcasting Network’s show The 700 Club, he fielded the following question from a viewer:
“I work in an environment where all of my coworkers are Buddhists… Every time I approach my coworkers, they end up offending me in ways that I feel are criticizing the Word of God. But, if I argue, I end up offending them… Should I continue to insist on helping them or get a different job?
Robertson’s response? “If you put yourself in the middle of a hospital ward where everybody has the disease except you, sooner or later, you will be infected by it… Get out of that environment, because they’re going to get to you before you get to them.”
This is by no means the first time such a thing has happened; for example, the right-wing reaction in 2010 to Tiger Woods’ troubles and how they did or didn’t relate to Buddhism brought all sorts of commentators out of the woodwork — for better and for worse. And it surely won’t be the last time, either.
It’s a Buddhist’s conundrum, in a way: on one hand, to be so blatantly, willfully misrepresented can be disheartening — even enraging. I’ll admit a bit of rage colored my first reaction to this news.
But like all things, even that can pass if we let it… and then, we can recall this: Robertson and his ilk make their hay by clinging to a “Cultural War” narrative that would have us all taking sides. What he seems to be missing is that fewer and fewer of us — Buddhist or not — are buying that line anymore. The social tide is turning more and more toward tolerance.
As Yoko Ono, raised Christian and Buddhist, said, “War is Over — If You Want It.” The Robertsons of the world may still want war — but in the end, they may find that they’ve thrown a war and nobody came.
What’s your reaction to Robertson’s comment, and how might you skillfully respond to his viewer’s comment today if it had been asked of you? Share your answers on our Facebook page:
Our response? Maybe Robertson should read some of these articles: