Pat Robertson’s CBN Backs Gbagbo

With international pressure on Laurent Gbagbo to step down following the recent election in the Ivory Coast, Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network has come to the rescue with a softball interview which, CBN boasts, was “broadcast on Ivorian National Television”. The interview gave Gbagbo a platform to discourse on his Christian faith, and CBN’s Gary Lane – aware of his brief to present Gbagbo as a Christian bulwark against Islam – didn’t spoil the mood by asking about Gbagbo’s polygamy or other awkward subjects.

The CBN segment also featured input from Clifton Clarke, a British scholar who is Associate Professor of Global Missions and World Christianity at Robertson’s Regent University; Clarke claimed that Saudi Arabia and “Muslims in France” had been “seeking to influence” the election in some unspecified unfair way. Christian Right news-site OneNewsNow, picking up the baton, tells us that the election is “the latest example of how Islam is steadily moving its influence southward into sub-Saharan Africa”, and that “The Christian Broadcasting Network maintains that Gbagbo, who is a Christian, only lost to the Muslim challenger because of voter fraud.”

Evangelical support for Gbagbo is long-standing – I wrote about it on this blog back in 2004. One of his two wives, Simone, has also been playing the religion card with some enthusiasm; according to France 24:

Increasingly isolated internationally, Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo counts on the support of his influential, Bible-wielding wife Simone to rally followers at home.

…In a show of strength and defiance, Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo’s allies organised a rally on Saturday in Abidjan that drew around 4,000 supporters.

…Simone Gbagbo is an evangelical Christian and references to God fill her colourful speeches. Saturday’s address was no exception.

“God is leading our fight,” “God has already given us victory,” and “God is with the people, God chose Gbagbo” were just a few of the remarks heard at the rally in Abidjan.

Gbagbo is not the only African leader to have enjoyed an endorsement of Pat Robertson; presumably, though, Gbagbo is praying that a blessing from the Holy Man of Virginia Beach will serve him better than was the case for Charles Taylor.

UPDATE: More on this from Terry Krepel at Media Matters.