September 19th, 2011
12:05 PM ET
Squaring Pat Robertson's Alzheimer's remarks with the Bible
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
(CNN)– Televangelist Pat Robertson's comments last week advising a husband to divorce his Alzheimer's-stricken wife drew criticism from Robertson's usual theological allies.
"This is more than an embarrassment," wrote Russell D. Moore, dean of the school of theology and senior vice president for academic administration at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. "This is more than cruelty. This is a repudiation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
Many Christians in the Twitterverse and in other online spaces also expressed disapproval of Robertson's comments, which came in response to a viewer of his "700 Club" TV show asking about a friend who started dating another women after his wife developed Alzheimer's disease.
"He says that he should be allowed to see other people, because his wife as he knows her is gone," the viewer asked. "I’m not sure what to tell him. Please help."
Robertson acknowledged the situation is a "terribly hard thing" but said the viewer's friend is right. "I know it sounds cruel, but if he’s going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again, but to make sure she has custodial care and somebody (is) looking after her."
When his co-anchor pushed back against that advice, Robertson acknowledged the marriage vow of "Till death do us part" but said that Alzheimer's is "a kind of death."
Criticism from the medical community seems to be less harsh than that from Christians but has nonetheless been forthcoming.
Here's Eric J. Hall, founding president and chief executive officer of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America:
In a Facebook post Thursday, Robertson's show, "The 700 Club," acknowledged the criticism without taking anything back:
- CNN's Elizabeth Landau contributed to this report.
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Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions. It's the most common cause of dementia — a group of brain disorders that results in the loss of intellectual and social skills. These changes are severe enough to interfere with day-to-day life. '`:^
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