Evangelist Robertson accused of damaging movement

Fellow conservative religious leaders have expressed concern and even open criticism over evangelist Pat Robertson's habit of shooting from the hip on his daily religious news-and-talk television program, "The 700 Club." The Christian Coalition founder and former Republican presidential candidate has said American agents should assassinate leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and suggested that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke was divine retribution for pulling Israel out of the Gaza Strip. He canceled a speech planned for this coming Tuesday at the closing banquet of the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Dallas after NRB leaders said they were concerned that his appearance could detract from the event. "He is in a very visible leadership position and comments such as recent ones related to Mr. Sharon and so many others are misinformed and presumptuous and border on arrogance," said David Dockery, president of Union University, a private college affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Robertson, through a spokesman, declined to be interviewed by The Associated Press.