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The Christian Broadcasting Network announced Friday that Pat Robertson, who has transformed a small Virginia television station into a global religious broadcasting network, is stepping down after half a century running the “700 Club” on daily TV.

Robertson, 91, said in a statement that he hosted the network’s flagship event for the last time on Friday, and that his son, Gordon Robertson, will take over the weekday show starting Monday.

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“I think 54 years after hosting the show, I will no longer be the host of ‘700 Club’,” Robertson said on the show Friday. Revelation” he needs to share. “I thank God for everyone involved. And I want to thank you all.”

Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network began broadcasting on October 1, 1961, after purchasing a bankrupt UHF television station in Portsmouth, Virginia. Production of the “700 Club” began in 1966.

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Now based in Virginia Beach, CBN says its reach extends to more than 100 countries and territories in dozens of languages ​​through TV and video evangelism, online ministry and prayer centers. The “700 Club” talk show can be seen in the vast majority of American television markets.

Robertson, who ran for president in 1988, also founded the Christian Coalition, which transformed American evangelicals into a conservative political force.

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As host of the “700 Club,” Robertson sometimes found himself in hot water for his on-air announcements. In 2005, he called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and warned residents of a rural Pennsylvania town not to be surprised if disaster struck them as they voted for school board members who “intelligent design”. supported teaching.

But Robertson also called for an end to the mandatory prison sentence for marijuana possession convictions. He later said on “The 700 Club” that marijuana should be legalized and treated like alcohol after the government’s war on drugs had failed.

In December 2007, Robertson’s son, Gordon, succeeded him as chief executive of CBN. Robertson remained the network’s president and continued to appear on “The 700 Club”.

Robertson will still appear in monthly, interactive episodes of The 700 Club and will appear on the program “sometimes as news warrants,” the network said.

Gordon Robertson said his father’s “legacy and example of his prayer life will continue to lead the 700 club for years to come.”