Pat Robertson gives blessing to divorce, as long as one spouse is afflicted with Alzheimer's DiseaseSource - NY Daily NewsBY MIKE JACCARINO
Thursday, September 15th 2011, 4:00 AM
Televangelist Pat Robertson has given his blessing to divorce - as long as one spouse is afflicted with Alzheimer's Disease.
The religious broadcaster and conservative lodestone made the surprising remark Tuesday during his nationally syndicated TV show, "The 700 Club."
It came in response to a viewer's question about what advice should be given to a pal who began stepping out on his spouse after she was diagnosed with the incurable neurological disorder, The Associated Press reported.
"I know it sounds cruel, but if he's going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again - but make sure she has custodial care and somebody looking after her," Robertson said.
Robertson, not done, said he wouldn't "put a guilt trip" on anyone who divorces a spouse suffering from the illness.
Adding one last nugget of advice, he said the two-timer should "get some ethicist besides me to give you the answer."
Robertson's position was unexpected for an ex-Baptist minister who advocates a literal interpretation of the Bible. Divorce is frowned upon by many Christian denominations, which point to Jesus' words in the Gospel of Mark that equate divorce and remarriage with adultery, The Associated Press reported.
Robertson's co-host, Terry Meeuwsen, quickly shot back at the former Republican presidential candidate, asking whether a couple's marriage vows - to care for one another "for better or for worse" and "in sickness and in health" - ought not to apply.
"If you respect that vow, you say 'til death do us part,'" Robertson said, adding that Alzheimer's "is a kind of death."
When The Associated Press tried to get Robertson to elaborate, he was mum: a spokesman for the Christian Broadcasting Network - which airs the show and of which Robertson is chairman - declined further comment Wednesday.
According to Beth Kallmyer, director of constituent services for the Alzheimer's Association, divorce is uncommon among couples in which one member is afflicted with the disease, The Associated Press reported. The organization provides resources to those afflicted with the disease and their families.
"We don't hear a lot of people saying, 'I'm going to get divorced,'" said Kallmyer. "Families typically respond the way they do to any other fatal disease."
Robertson has made plenty of controversial statements over the years, including after Hurricane Katrina, when he implied on a broadcast of "The 700 Club" that the storm was God's punishment for America's abortion policy.