Hindu Vivek Kendra
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Outrage as preacher refuses to condemn Chinese abortions

Outrage as preacher refuses to condemn Chinese abortions

Author: Toby Harnden in Washington
Publication: The Telegraph
Date: April 20, 2001

PAT ROBERTSON, a former presidential candidate and a pillar of the religious Right, has plunged his Christian Coalition into turmoil by declining to speak out against forced abortions in China. The Bible-thumping television evangelist, who said three years ago that Disney World would be hit by a hurricane because it had hosted a Gay Day rally, is now caught up in a storm largely of his own making. Presenting his many enemies with a long-awaited opportunity, Mr Robertson, 71, was startlingly reluctant to condemn Beijing's brutally repressive regime when asked his views on China's policy of forced abortions. Opposition to abortion is the fundamental touchstone of the religious Right in America.

Mr Robertson, who stood for president in 1988, appeared to have built up his political influence last year by backing George W Bush during his election campaign and accusing his opponent, Senator John McCain, of being pro-abortion. But his comments in a CNN interview this week are unlikely to win him an invitation to the White House. Mr Robertson, who has major business interests in China, said Beijing's leaders were "doing what they have to do" to prevent a population explosion.

"They've got 1.2 billion people and they don't know what to do. If every family over there was allowed to have three or four children, the population would be completely unsustainable. Right now, they run the risk of tremendous unemployment. So, I think that right now they're doing what they have to do. I don't agree with the forced abortion but I don't think the United States needs to interfere with what they're doing internally in this regard."

Senior figures on the religious Right said Mr Robertson's comments could turn out to be the death knell for the Christian Coalition. Marshall Wittman, who used to run its Washington office, said: "The Christian Coalition was already on a life support machine. In many ways it is a mere skeleton of its former self, a paper organisation. The religious Right has lost its edge. It thrived as an opposition movement when Bill Clinton was in the White House but now it's losing its influence."

Charles Donovan of the Family Research Council said he was "saddened and surprised" by the comments, while Concerned Women for America issued a statement saying: "Babies are not the causes of China's problems. Communism is." Mr Robertson, who preaches from his Virginia Beach television studios to 90 countries, including China, and founded the Christian Broadcasting Network in 1960, hurriedly issued a statement clarifying his "unrehearsed remarks" and expressing his "deeply held convictions" against abortion.

But Gary Bauer, head of the Campaign for Working Families and a presidential candidate last year, said few Christian conservatives had been satisfied. "Pat's been investing in China for a number of years and, as his investments have grown, so his willingness to criticise the Chinese has declined. It will take some time for him to rebuild his credibility."

In 1999 the Bank of Scotland severed its business links with Mr Robertson after he described Scotland as a "dark land" where homosexuals had too much power. Although Mr Robertson said in his CNN interview that he had "some spiritual activity in China", he has major financial interests there. His US Media Corporation sells children's programmes to state-owned Chinese television stations.

Mr Robertson also has to deal with critics on the Left. "This is more proof of just how extreme Robertson really is," said Barry Lynn, director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. "He wants to ban all abortions in the US and allow forced abortions in China."

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