Bill O’Reilly takes the televangelist torch and runs with it
“Ladies and gentlemen, we need a revolution to stop these so-called progressives from destroying this country anymore.”
So says televangelist Pat Robertson in a recent episode of The 700 Club.
What’s provoked this latest call for insurrection? That damned nurse taking too long with all her damned questions last time he visited the doctor’s office.
“You know, I had a little procedure or something done. And I’m sitting there, and this nurse is saying, ‘Well, tell us about this.’ And she’s accessing in her computer, ‘Well, how many vitamins do you take? How about something else? When did you have…?’ She spent forever and forever logging stuff into the computer because that’s what they want to do!
“Well how about me? I’m sick! Help me! Well, that’s too bad. We’ve got to get the records fixed.”
Procedure. That’s the polite word for surgery, right? Okay, so we’re going to overthrow the government because Pat Robertson’s surgeon thought maybe it was a good idea to find out if he had any allergies to medication or a history of epilepsy before slicing him open. Good enough for me.
In the unlikely event that you need more convincing before grabbing your musket and powder, Pat assures us that filling out forms before a “procedure” is an entirely new phenomenon – and entirely unnecessary as well. It’s all the fault of “socialism” and “ObamaCare,” he says. Also, “computers.” SCARY!
Robertson also unintentionally touches on the larger issue here: democracy itself.
The televangelist added that he didn’t vote for President Obama, “but the American people voted him into office twice, and this is the result.”
Hey, Pat: When you acknowledge that Obama was elected by the American people and then call for revolution anyway, you’ve crossed the line from rabble-rousing against the government and started calling for a war to subjugate the majority of the American people to your personal will.
Which we know is what you want, but you’re not supposed to say it out loud, dude.
Robertson is among the last of a dying breed of old school televangelists that were immensely popular in the late 1980s, especially among 70+ crowd. If you’re under 30, you probably don’t realize just how powerful these televangelists were before sex scandals brought down Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart. Robertson himself was a serious contender in the 1988 Republican primary for president, carrying four states.
When I think back on the popularity and influence of televangelists in the Reagan era, it’s almost impossible not to see an identical force at play in American TV today.
Where can the modern senior citizen go to hear a stern, authoritative white male explain to them in patient detail why the world today is going to hell with all the young people and their sex, why everything new is bad and scary, and why American culture is falling apart?
Where can an 80-year-old great grandmother get reassured that she’s one the good people, the moral people, the ones who still remember what America is supposed to look like, what it did look like back when everyone said a prayer to start the school day and openly feared gay people?
Yes, FOX News. More specifically, Bill O’Reilly.
Bill O’Reilly is the modern televangelist. He proudly calls for a return to a more Christian America, just like it was before the atheists took over our schools and the Jews in Hollywood led us down the primrose path to depravity. He assures his audience that they are faithful, true, and pure… but they are surrounded by forces of evil that are stealing the hearts of their children and grandchildren.
How is Bill O’Reilly’s message any different than Jerry Falwell’s?
For more proof, look no further than The O’Reilly Factor’s audience demographics. The average age of an O’Reilly viewer is 71. Out of 2.5 million people who tune in on a given night, about 2.1 million of them are at least 55 years old. Half of them are at least 65. The older you are, the more likely you are to watch O’Reilly.
That’s exactly who the televangelists appealed to as well. The aging. The lonely. The frightened. The resentful. The people watching O’Reilly now are precisely the same audience that would have been watching Jim and Tammy Faye back in the day.