Pat Robertson Backs Ivory Coast Dictator Because He’s Christian

As the violence in Ivory Coast continues to spiral out of control (to understand the conflict more fully, see my most recent update on the situation), it seems as though most Americans remain fairly ignorant about the power struggle between Ivory Coast’s incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo, who refuses to cede power despite the fact that his rival, Alassane Ouattara, won a national election in November.  Since then, Ouattara has been attempting to take over control of the country, while Gbagbo maintains that he is still the legitimate leader of Ivory Coast.

Although a recent massacre in an Ivory Coast town led UN leaders to question just how much control Ouattara has over his troops, he remains uniformly backed by the United Nations and most Western countries.  However, forces loyal to Gbagbo have shown a much more ruthless tendency toward violence against civilians, and in any case, Gbagbo, having lost the election, needs to step down.  Members of the American Christian Right, however, continue to support Gbagbo, not because he is the rightful leader of his country, but because he’s Christian.  Foremost among these is Pat Robertson, who made waves when he backed Liberian President Charles Taylor in 2003, and is now urging Gbagbo to stay in office.

In January, Pat Robertson opened his TV show by commenting, “Everybody says this man [Gbagbo] is an evil thug who needs to go.  That’s not true.  He’s a Christian, he’s a nice person, and he’s run a fairly clean operation in the Ivory Coast.”

This is despite the fact that human rights abuses have been documented against Gbagbo (although, to be fair, Ouattara’s troops have not kept their hands clean either).  But the reason that civilians are dying currently is because Gbagbo is refusing, after having lost an election, to step down.  Needless to say, Robertson seems unwilling to grapple with these issues.  Instead, the fact that Gbagbo is Christian and that Ouattara is Muslim seems much more salient.  Robertson claimed that the UN is “controlled so much by Muslim countries” and, most recently, that Ouattara taking office would result in “one more Muslim nation that’s going to be building up that ring of Shari’a law around the Middle East.”

It may not seem to matter what Robertson thinks about this crisis, but the fact that the country is teetering on the brink of civil war should be of concern because of the connections between Gbagbo and Senator James Inhofe, who knows Gbagbo personally.  Their shared evangelical Christianity is, according to Justin Elliot in a piece for Salon, a potential factor in Inhofe’s decision to release a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, asking her to reconsider the election dispute in favor of Gbagbo.

Whether the United States will or should intervene in this conflict is a question that I don’t feel qualified to answer.  But I know one thing: I am very uncomfortable with the idea that control of Ivory Coast should be decided on the basis of the two rival leaders’ religions.  And let’s face it – this is an area where Pat Robertson does not have a good track record.

Take Action: Sign the Care2 petition to protect the citizens of the Ivory Coast.


Photo from Flickr.

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Margaret Green
Margaret Green4 years ago

Surely the issue is, who is most suited to the job.Religion should not be the decider, the mans ability to govern with his government behind him, should be the decider.

Richard E Cooley
Richard E Cooley4 years ago

I agree with Edward M. using this convoluted logic Pat Robertson would of backed Hitler! Thanks Edward M. for stating it so concisely.

Terence Nelson
Terence Nelson4 years ago

Gbagbo a Christian? Then I'm the queen of England!

Now that he has been arrested, will things be any better? Highly doubtful but yet another classic case of spouting rubbish that has nothing to do with the situation in hand. Who listens to this goof, anyway?

Stephan B.
Stephan B.4 years ago

Tomas de Torqemada led the Spanish Inquisiton with a relish that has only been recently equalled Pat Robertson's zeal.

Pat would have been serving marshmallows and weinies to roast on the human pyres had he been in the 15th century. Do we expect any less from him?

It is unfair of God to let Pat and his ilk ferret out the good from the bad from the ulgy. And it is an aspersion disrespectful to ferrets. Pat is classless all on his own.

He has looser standards for being a Christioan than, well, God himself.

Susanne R.
Susanne R.4 years ago

Anyone who hears Pat Robertson speaks knows that he's not playing with a full deck. Since he won't go away, we'll just have to humor him and let him believe he makes sense --because there's no convincing him that he doesn't.

Jane P.
Jane Ponder4 years ago

As a fellow Chrisstian, isn't this just wrong?

Rob and Jay B.
Jay S.4 years ago

Well, at least Robertson didn't blame all the strife there on homosexuals as he usually does every time some disaster happens like a tornado flattening trailer parks & redneck churches in the South or anywhere else . (Could it be that they were destroyed by god because of the unChristian bigotry practiced & preached by ignorant bigots like him & all his ilk?)

It remains to be seen if Ouattara will be any better than Gbagbo. Probably not. The Muslim leaders in Africa are not known for their progressive ideas, tolerance & democratic values either. It could certainly get worse for many people as it is in Muslim areas in Nigeria & Kenya, for example where Muslims are seizing power, instituting Sharia Law, persecuting non-Muslims & opposing democratic principles, but, just as in the US where voters voted the anti-people party back into office last year, the voters in Ivory Coast chose their leader so let them reap the rewards or pain, whatever those may be.

Let's not forget that Robertson & others of his ilk in the right wing religionist US hate groups now own the majority of TV/radio outlets on the African continent. Can things ever improve? Hateful Christianity or Hateful Islam - wow! what a choice!

Edward M.
Edward M.4 years ago

So, using this logic, Hitler, supporting a Christian German culture, would have received Pat's full support?

Sonny Honrado
Sonny Honrado4 years ago


K s Goh
KS Goh4 years ago

Thanks for the article.