Decades ago, Terry Heaton was the right hand man for Pat Robertson. Heaton worked for The 700 Club and eventually became its executive producer… but he’s repentant about much of that history today. He once proudly believed the Religious Right was on a quest to spread Christian ideas and morals — which he agreed with — but that changed as the direction of the show became more political and the Religious Right became intertwined with the Republican Party.
He’s also upset at his role in promoting what we now know as the Prosperity Gospel (God wants you to be rich! That starts by sending me money!)
Heaton writes about all this in his new book The Gospel of Self: How Jesus Joined the GOP. In an interview with Vox, he elaborated on his role on the show, what changed over the years, and how the tide turned over one particular issue:
It turns out that abortion, gays and lesbians, and birth control — they’re all about sex. Sex, more than everything else, scares people who want their children to be safe and to live in a sanctified world. I don’t want to overstate that, but it’s the truth.
There’s a strong sense among people that they wanted to do something about it. And guiding them becomes an easy task — what we gave them was Republican Party politics. We had an explanation for all their fears — the lack of personal responsibility, big government, people trying to take from you what really belongs to you, self-responsibility, self-responsibility, self-responsibility. All those things worked very well with the type of Christianity we were preaching.
Say what you will about Robertson, but that ploy worked. He’s rich as hell, still on the air, and his message continues to resonate with a powerful bloc of Christian voters. We live in a country where the majority of people who voted for Donald Trump think Christians, who make up more than 90% of Congress, represent the religion most discriminated against. The delusion is strong.
Heaton’s still a Christian, and it’s not that he’s changed his mind on these issues. He’s mostly upset that he “participated in something that has turned out to be pretty bad.” That is to say he wanted to spread the Gospel, not deliver votes to the GOP. But many of Robertson’s followers came to see both of those things as one and the same.
It’s not surprising that Robertson delivered his followers to the Republican Party. They fell for a huckster the first time. Why wouldn’t it happen again? They never learned how to question authority when its holding a Bible, and we’re all paying the price for it.
(Screenshot via Right Wing Watch)