(CNN) — Pat Robertson, the prominent televangelist who founded the Christian Broadcasting Network, made the Christian right a powerful political force and unsuccessfully ran for president in 1988, died on Thursday, the network said in a news release.

“Pat Robertson, longtime TV host, religious broadcaster, educator, humanitarian, and one-time presidential candidate died at his home in Virginia Beach early Thursday morning. He was 93,” the release said.

Regent University in Virginia also released a statement saying it was mourning the loss of Robertson.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our beloved founder,” Regent University Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs William L. Hathaway said. “Dr. Robertson was a globally-renowned leader, broadcaster, philanthropist, educator, author, accomplished businessman, and – most importantly – a faithful servant of God who dedicated his life to glorifying the Lord and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Born in 1930, Robertson founded the Christian Broadcasting Network in 1960 and was ordained as a Southern Baptist minister a year later. He used that perch, including his daily show “The 700 Club” – named for its goal of 700 members whose pledges would keep the station afloat financially – to push his message of conservative Christian values to people at home, taking aim at gay rights, feminism, abortion and other social issues.

Robertson helped transform the conservative evangelical movement into a political force on the American right that helped elect Ronald Reagan. He then ran for the Republican nomination for president in 1988, coming in behind both George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole.

Afterward, he founded the Christian Coalition of America, which promoted conservative Christian political candidates, and returned to “The 700 Club.”

Over his many years, Robertson made a series of inflammatory and controversial opinions, and repeatedly said that acts of terrorism or natural disasters were a form of divine retribution for perceived immorality.

After the 9/11 attacks, Robertson agreed with fellow televangelist Jerry Falwell that God allowed the terrorists to succeed because America had moved to the left and removed religion from the mainstream.

“I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen,’ ” Falwell said on “The 700 Club.”

“I totally concur,” Robertson said, “and the problem is we have adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government.”

He also linked Hurricane Katrina to abortion and said that the Haiti earthquake occurred because the country had made a “pact with the devil” in overthrowing its French colonists in 1804.

In more recent years, Robertson became a supporter of former President Donald Trump, and in 2017 he linked the Las Vegas mass shooting to “disrespect” for Trump and the National Anthem.

Yet in 2020, he condemned Trump’s response to nationwide Black Lives Matter protests, and in December of that year said Trump was living in an “alternate reality” and should “move on” from his election loss.

Robertson suffered a stroke in 2018 and two years ago stepped down as the host of “The 700 Club,” leaving the show to his son Gordon. His wife of 70 years, Dede Robertson, died last year at the age of 94.

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