by Sara Diamond, copyright 1986

     TV   preacher   Pat  Robertson  is  the   only   prospective
presidential  candidate who not only has a Central America policy
but also provides Bibles,  beans,  and maybe even bullets to U.S.
backed forces in the region.

     Until recently,  Robertson was seen by most as just  another
slick televangelist. But his soft-spoken style is misleading; his
actions speaker louder than his words.

      Robertson's  controversial activities include:  support for
the  slaughter of thousands of Indians by a Guatemalan  dictator;
public praise for the reputed leader of Salvadoran death  squads;
collaboration with murky U.S. mercenary groups; and the provision
of  chaplains and funds to the contra army seeking to topple  the
government of Nicaragua.

     Robertson's  Christian  Broadcasting Network is the  largest
non-commercial TV network in the world,  with an annual budget of
about $230 million.  The most popular of all religious TV  shows,
Robertson's  90-minute  weekday "700 Club" has an estimated  28.7
million regular U.S.  viewers.  CBN also broadcasts to 65 foreign
countries, including Israel, Argentina, Namibia, El Salvador, and

     These bright statistics don't obscure Robertson's  notorious
involvement in Central America. It began with the March 1982 coup
in  Guatemala  which brought General Efrain Rios Montt to  power.
Montt is a member of Gospel Outreach, a fundamentalist sect based
in Eureka,  California. Within a week of the coup, Robertson flew
to Guatemala to meet with Montt.

     Robertson  told the New York Times (5/20/82) that CBN  would
send missionaries and "more than a billion dollars" to Guatemala.
While this promise was not fully met,  Montt used the pledges  of
support from U.S. evangelicals to convince Congress that he would
not seek massive sums of U.S. aid.

     In  June  1982 Montt aide Francisco Bianchi met with  senior
Reagan  administration  officials and  Christian  Right  leaders,
including:  U.S.  representative  to the Organization of American
States  William  Middendorf,  then Presidential  counselor  Edwin
Meese,   then  Interior  Secretary  James  Watt,   Ambassador  to
Guatemala Fred Chapin,  Pat Robertson,  Jerry Falwell,  and Loren
Cunningham of Youth with a Mission.

     Subsequently  the State Department briefed  Christian  Right
leaders  on  the  need for "private" support for  the  the  Montt
regime.   On   the  "700  Club"  Robertson  urged  donations   to
International  Love Lift,  an ongoing relief project sponsored by
Montt's  U.S.  shepherds  from Gospel  Outreach.  Robertson  also
successfully  lobbied the Reagan administration to end the  five-
year ban on military aid to Guatemala.

     On  January 8,  1983 the ban instituted by President  Carter
for  human  rights reasons was lifted.  That same  day  350  U.S.
evangelicals  set  sail  for Guatemala with a  boat  carrying  $1
million worth of food,  clothing,  medical supplies,  and housing

     "The  Gospel in Guatemala," a PBS documentary,  revealed the
complicity   of   Gospel  Outreach  in  the   Guatemalan   Army's
adminstration  of  camps for refugees from  Rios  Montt's  brutal
counterinsurgency massacres of Mayan Quiche Indians.

     By  late  1983,   Robertson  shifted  his  attention  to  El
Salvador,  where  he  interviewed  President  Alvaro  Magana  and
individuals  connected  with Salvadoran death  squads.  Robertson
returned  about the same time that the Kissinger Commission  made
headlines  with recommendations for unprecedented levels of  U.S.
aid to Central America. On the "700 Club" Robertson stressed that
the  Magana  government  was getting a bum  rap.  He  warned  his
audience not to rely on the "biased liberalism" of Newsweek, Time
and  U.S.  News and World Report,  while he praised  death  squad
leader Robert D'Aubuisson as a "very nice fellow."

     In March 1984 CBN reporter Norm Mintle covered the "American
elections  in El Salvador," accompanied throughout the country by
"very  friendly  Salvadoran troops."  Over  and  over,  700  Club
viewers saw long lines of patient Salvadoran voters and a clip of
Reagan  loyalist  Senator  Jeremiah Denton (R-AL) in front  of  a
ballot  box  pleading that "we should send what aid  these  peole
require  immediately  in  terms  of  economic  and  military,  to
preserve their opportunity to remain free."

     Throughout the spring of 1984 Robertson broadcast the  phone
number  of  the  Congressional switchboard and urged  viewers  to
lobby  for U.S.  aid to El Salvador.  "Just 40  U.S.  helicopters
would take care of those guerrillas," he said.

     In August 1984 Robertson assisted Montt's successor  General
Mejia  Victores  in Guatemala.  The Florida-based  Air  Commandos
Association  and CBN's Operation Blessing set up a medical clinic
in  the Nebaj region of northwestern Guatemala.  According to  an
Air  Commandos  newsletter,  CBN  paid  the  costs  and  the  Air
Commandos worked on logistics.  The Air Commandos Association  is
headed by retired general H.C.  Aderholt who,  during the Vietnam
War,  delivered  supplies  from the Michigan-based World  Medical
Relief to the CIA's secret army of guerrillas in  Laos.  Aderholt
is   a  contributing  editor  of  Soldier  of  Fortune  mercenary

     Robertson's  summer propaganda offensive  against  Nicaragua
was  also in full swing,  as was his direct assistance to  contra
families in Honduras. By fall 1984, press reports on the emerging
private  contra  aid  network listed CBN as one  of  the  largest

     In  1984  CBN donated $3 million to the contras through  the
Nicaraguan Patriotic Association whose Vice President Juan Sacasa
is the Houston representative of the FDN.  By the end of 1985 CBN
had  supplied at least $7 million in aid to the contras,  and  to
the  governments  of El Salvador  and  Guatemala. These  were not
secret  contributions:  Robertson  solicited  viewers'  donations
through  simulated  mailgrams and a special May telethon for  the
"freedom fighters."

     Robertson  personally delivered more than a million  dollars
worth  of  supplies to the Guatemalan government  in  June  1985.
During the same trip, he reviewed troops at contra training camps
in Honduras where he was saluted as a guest of honor.

     In  October  1985  Sojourners magazine exposed  the  dubious
behavior of CBN's Operation Blessing in Honduras.  According to a
former World Relief worker, a CBN film crew in Honduras requested
gasoline for its jeep, which turned out to belong to the contras.
In another instance a CBN official falsely claimed that Operation
Blessing provides funds to another relief group, World Vision.

     At a private reception held in his honor during the February
1986 convention of the National Religious Broadcasters, Robertson
told  a reporter that "the contras are being supplied  by  Israel
and South Africa." He went on to say that CBN is providing Bibles
and  military  chaplains to the contras,  at the request  of  FDN
leader Enrique Bermudez.

     Benton Miller, manager of media relations for CBN, confirmed
Robertson's  training of at least one contra chaplain.  But  when
asked  by  a  reporter about Robertson's insider's  knowledge  on
South Africa's role,  Miller denied Robertson's statement,  until
he was confronted with video and audio taped evidence.

     For  the  past  two  years,   whenever  Congress  has   been
considering  a  contra  aid package,  Robertson has revved  up  a
"Mighty  Wirlitzer"  of  propaganda  against  Nicaragua--with   a
special emphasis, naturally, on stories of religious persecution.

     Robertson  has  repeatedly aired excerpts from  the  private
American  Security  Council's  film  "Attack  on  the  Americas."
According   to   Jenny  Pierce,   author  of  Under  the   Eagle,
distribution  funds  for  the film were raised by  associates  of
Guatemala's far-right nationalist party, the Movement of National
Liberation (MLN) which operates death squads in that  country.  A
more recent ASC film,  Crisis in the Americas,  also excerpted on
the  700  Club,  purports to "prove" that Nicaraguan leaders  are
running  a massive drug ring designed to  simultaneously  "poison
American youth" and finance revolution.

     CBN's   constant  and  sophisticated  anti-Nicaraguan  media
barrage  is a far cry from the pouting tirades of  Bible-thumpers
Jerry Falwell and Jimmy Swaggart.  Whether viewed as a politician
or a preacher, Robertson's direct involvement with armed factions
in Central America puts him in a class by himself.