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Robertson Quitting Ministry to Seek Presidency

September 30, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Television evangelist Pat Robertson said Tuesday that he is resigning as a Southern Baptist minister and cutting ties to his broadcast empire as he prepares to run for the Republican presidential nomination.

In a statement from his headquarters in Chesapeake, Va., Robertson called the decision to leave the ministry "one of the most painful I have ever been required to make."

In recent months, as public opinion polls indicated voters were reluctant to put a member of the clergy into a high elected office, Robertson has emphasized his business background rather than his long career as a religious broadcaster.

Robertson said he would resign as chairman and chief executive officer of the Christian Broadcasting Network and CBN Continental Broadcasting Inc. Robertson began CBN with $70 in 1960, and built it into the nation's fifth-largest cable network, reaching 37 million households.

"I love broadcasting and I will hate to leave it," he said in his statement. "For now, I feel an obligation to serve the greatest nation on the face of the Earth."

Robertson, ordained in 1961, resigned as a minister. He served several "interim pastorates" in the Southern Baptist church early in his career, but said he had not been a parish minister for 25 years.

"I recognize that although the overwhelming majority of the American people desire leaders with strong religious faith, to many of our citizens the election (as President) of an ordained clergyman of any faith would, in their opinion, be tantamount to a preference of one religious denomination over all others," he said.

Both resignations are effective Thursday, the day Robertson is to announce his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in Brooklyn, N.Y.

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