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Pat Robertson and Conspiracy Theories

Extract from Conspiracy: How the Paranoid Style Flourishes and Where It Comes From by Daniel Pipes. Buy the book at Amazon.

The American evangelist and politician Pat Robertson, a 1988 candidate, is the presidential aspirant with the most elaborate ideas about a plot against the United States; he may also be the single most influential conspiracy theorist in the contemporary United States.

But, it bears noting, few of the following ideas are original to Robertson himself, and he kept them almost completely under wraps during the 1988 campaign (though he did occasionally refer to the Council on Foreign Relations, the New York-based think tank and a great bogeyman of American conspiracy theorists). Only in 1991 did he fully reveal his views, in a book titled The New World Order.

Robertson offers two very different scenarios for the New World Order, one financial, the other moral. In the first, he foresees a European seizure of American wealth via a world currency and a single global bank.

The conspirator's identity is Money Power; its motivation is a mixture of greed and a preference for the simplicity of dictatorship over the messiness of democracy. As early as 1865, European bankers arranged for Abraham Lincoln's murder to prevent him from issuing interest-free currency, which would have broken their hold over the U.S. money supply. In 1912, to maintain that hold, the banking interests engineered a three-way race for the presidency, permitting Woodrow Wilson to win.

A year later Wilson and his aide Colonel Edward House institutionalized the Money Power by getting the Sixteenth Amendment passed, permitting Congress to collect an income tax, and establishing the Federal Reserve Board. These two developments are closely connected, for the central bank relies on the income tax to advance an "international financial assault on the freedom and integrity of America."

Robertson's second and far uglier scenario concerns the Illuminati, the Freemasons, and extreme New Age religionists who aspire not to money but to undermine the Christian social order. To achieve this they seek "a one-world government, a one-world army, a one-world economy under an Anglo-Saxon financial oligarchy, and a world dictator served by a council of twelve faithful men."

This tyranny will attempt to "destroy the Christian faith" and "replace it with an occult-inspired world socialist dictatorship." In another place, he foresees nothing less than a world under "the domination of Lucifer and his followers" in which spiritual forces will be set into motion "which no human being will be strong enough to contain." Robertson offers Hitler's attempts at world hegemony as the closest historical parallel to the "giant prison" of the New World Order.

Robertson is also strangely contradictory about the course of American history. Sometimes he implies that the country has been on the wrong track from the very start. Perhaps some founding fathers, he muses, had intended "to bring forth, not the nation that our founders and champions of liberty desired, but a totally different world order under a mystery religion." In this context, the Masonic imagery on the Great Seal of the United States has great significance.

Alternatively, he dates the rot to the time of Cecil Rhodes (1853-1902); since then American policy has moved steadily closer to the New World Order, regardless of whether Democrats or Republicans are in charge. He portrays some U.S. presidents, including Jimmy Carter and George Bush, as "men of goodwill," but that did not prevent them from doing their part to bring on this wretched future. Robertson sees the Council on Foreign Relations (as well as the Trilateral Commission) as the New World Order's main agent in the United States.

The conspirators have not yet brought down the United States, but they did cause the Great Depression and several recessions; in addition, they "helped destroy" the Soviet bloc, China, Cuba, Nicaragua, and many countries in Southeast Asia and Africa.

Writing in 1991, Robertson finds that recent events point to "a giant plan" in which everything is "perfectly on cue." Note the particulars: "Europe sets the date for its union. Communism collapses. A hugely popular war [against Iraq] is fought in the Middle East. The United Nations is rescued from scorn by an easily swayed public.

A new world order is announced [by George Bush]." Looking ahead, Robertson sees a financial collapse that prompts the U.S. government to turn over its defense and its sovereignty to the United Nations. The U.N. then imposes socialist and anti-Christian rules. The leaders "elect a world president with plenary powers who is totally given to the religion of humanity." The New World Order is in place.