Pat Robertson Ignored My Advice, Jerry Falwell Took It and Pulled
in Billions, and I Made Zilch
by Gary North: Tricked
on the Fourth of July
In 1982, Pat
Robertson invited me, Francis Schaeffer, and lawyer John Whitehead
to have dinner with him. He wanted advice on what to do with his
He flew us
in and paid for our rooms. That was the extent of out remuneration.
I wrote a paper
for him on how he could take over Christian higher education in
the United States. He had CBN University operating (now Regents
First, he would
hire the best Christian college professors in America. He would
videotape their lectures. They would write workbooks. The professors
would make their money from royalties on the workbooks.
would invite churches to set up local branches of his college. They
would install cheap satellite dishes – the old 12-footers.
would buy videotape recorders.
would broadcast lectures on his satellite network after midnight,
California time – cheap time.
pastors would set the recorders to turn on automatically in slow-recording
would charge a low fee to enroll.
I told him
he could recruit thousands of students this way, and make money.
He turned my
paper over to an employee. I never heard from Robertson again, although
I saw him periodically.
I knew the
man he turned it over to. In 1971, he was the president of Spring
Arbor College in Michigan. He interviewed me for a teaching job.
I did not yet have my Ph.D. I got in in 1972. He told me that I
might not meet the school's high standards. I then told him that
I had just been offered a job at Michigan State University. Without
blinking an eye, he said, "We would be glad to have you here." In
short, Behemoth U's opinion counted in his mind.
me during my 1982 visit. He introduced himself. I had forgotten.
He apologized for not hiring me. He said he had not been a Christian
at the time.
He was unable
to persuade Robertson to follow through.
So, I published
my paper the next year in a journal I edited. The article was tiled:
"Levers, Fulcrums, and Hornets." The journal is here.
In the introduction, I wrote:
It is my
view, as I told him, that he is in a temporarily unique position.
He has mastered the satellite television medium and has a powerful
tool at his disposal. No other Christian leader presently in possession
of such a tool has a broad enough vision of the kingdom of God
to use it in the way I have outlined in this article. . . .
asked me to meet with two of the men in charge of CBN University
the next day. We met for an hour, and one of them wrote a report.
I do not know what happened to it. I believe that the preliminary
phases of the following proposal could be implemented within a
year, and that the whole program could become a reality within
five years. I believe that it is technically and financially possible
for Mr. Robertson's various organizations to implement it. It
might not receive the public support I envision, but it should
nevertheless be attempted.
went way beyond college education. It was on what Robertson could
do with his network.
I did not see
this. He later sold it to a secularist for what became stock worth
$90 million – personally.
Total investment on his part? $180,000.
at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University read it. The school was in
deep financial trouble. Godwin proposed that the school set up "University
Without Walls." It would offer degrees by correspondence. It would
use videotapes. Falwell agreed. He needed money.
saved the school. Godwin later wrote to me telling me this story.
is still with Liberty U. Liberty U has 58,000
correspondence students, second only to the University of Phoenix's
As for me,
I made nothing.
It was a good
idea. I just didn't see that it could be done with videotapes and
the Post Office rather than a satellite distribution system. Godwin
put the pieces together. He deserves the credit. Good ideas are
a dime a dozen. Entrepreneurship identifies the good ones and puts
together the marketing package.
North [send him mail]
is the author of Mises
on Money. Visit http://www.garynorth.com.
He is also the author of a free 20-volume series, An
Economic Commentary on the Bible.
2011 Gary North
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