After all this time blogging on the Religious Right, I've encountered several instances of New Apostolic Reformation figures blaming demons for everything from indigenous religions to abortion to drug cartel violence. However, I wasn't prepared to hear such demon-rhetoric from Pat Robertson.
Right Wing Watch drew attention to Robertson's statements during the March 26th edition of The 700 Club. The last segment of the episode featured the story of Shawn Derritt and his "battle with homosexuality." After being sexually intimate with men in his youth, Shawn married a woman, believing that his "sin" was under control. Several years after they married, Derritt had affairs with other men, and when he confessed his infidelity to his wife, she was devastated. "Repentance and deliverance from his homosexual lifestyle" came from his devotion to God, the segment claimed. To watch the episode, visit www[dot]cbn[dot]com/media/player/index.aspx?s=/archive/club/700Club032612_WS&t=k&search=700clubepisodes
At the 54:22 mark, Pat Robertson speculated that demonic position could have been to blame for Derritt's affairs.
"The world today says, 'Okay Shawn, so you are gay. You want to go out and have affairs with men. That's cool. You have an absolute right to do that. Why not? So you're married. Well, that's too bad. So you're wife doesn't like it. Well, tough.' That's not the right attitude. The attitude is that this is sin. It's wrong, and Shawn realized it was wrong but he couldn't control it. But somehow, what an amazing wife he had ... How forgiving, how understanding. But that type of conduct is wrong, and it's time in society we say certain things are wrong. However you look at it, the man is married and has a child, and he's out having multiple affairs with men. He's picking them up on the street. So he's obsessed, he had a compulsion. I would think it is somehow related to demonic possession. I don't know what was driving him. The lust of the flesh, whatever you call it, but he needs to be set free. And he came to Jesus, and Jesus did what he does. He set him free."In my opinion, the story is not so much a testament to divine healing as it is a warning about so-called "ex-gay" efforts. When people are pressured by their communities or belief systems to repress their sexual feelings, problems erupt. My heart goes out to Derritt, who has clearly been discouraged from accepting his natural feelings, and for his wife who has endured so much heartache.
To boot, Robertson's comments about demonic possession were NOT helpful. In Robertson's eyes, Derritt's affairs weren't a sign of repressed, unprocessed sexual feelings, but a result of demons. Instead of looking at Derritt's situation from a realistic angle, Robertson attributed his affairs to something supernatural. Could this be taken a step further? Could this lead people to brand homosexuality and bisexuality as results of possession? Absolutely, and that is why such demon-rhetoric is dangerous.
Right Wing Watch drew attention to more of Robertson's comments on the March 27th edition of The 700 Club. After a segment on the controversy surrounding Kirk Cameron's homophobic statements, Robertson said that homosexuality and abortion were Satan's attacks on society.
To watch the episode, visit www[dot]cbn[dot]com/media/player/index.aspx?s=/archive/club/700Club032712_WS&t=k&search=700clubepisodes
At the 12:08 mark of the episode, he had this to say.
"Isn't it amazing, though, that the media focuses on the fringe ... Apparently there is a little bit of area where we are totally violating God's commandments. Homosexuality is one of them, abortion is the other one, and I mean, total violation of God's commandments. And this is the area that the media is focusing on, because they know this is the wedge that's being driven into our faith-based society ... This is where the devil is pointing in. It's an attack on marriage, and an attack on procreation ... You don't procreate if you're a homosexual. You can't have children. It's biologically impossible. The same thing, if you're abortion babies, you're taking life away. That's the attack of Satan against the society we live in."Breathtaking. When a long-silenced group demands equal rights, or when women exert autonomy over their bodies, Pat Robertson sees "the attack of Satan."
As I've argued before, this kind of rhetoric is never constructive. By claiming that LGBT people (OR pro-choice voices, OR non-Christians) are under the influence of demons and Satan, people like Robertson preclude any meaningful engagement with those groups. It not only shrouds their humanity, but it makes it impossible to approach their claims in a meaningful manner. Pat Robertson and his ilk need to stop using religion to justify homophobia.
For additional commentary, visit the following links.
Rainbow Times: Creep of the Week: Pat Robertson for heterosexuality with demonic possession
Huffington Post: Pat Robertson On Homosexuality: It's Related To A Type Of "Demonic Possession"
Godissatan: Pat Robertson Blames Homosexuality on Demonic Possession