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OPERATION BLESSING-THE FACTS

Posted By: Argus
Date: Thursday, 1 September 2005, 10:00 p.m.

No one is trying to demonize faith based Christianity as a whole here, in much the same way that no one at STA believes all Muslims are violent bomb weilding terrorists.

The point of the initial post was the alarm bell raised that Operation Blessing is a legitimate charity.

No less an "objective" source than the Virginian-Pilot newspaper which exposed the fraud of Operation Blessing years ago, and it would only add to the tragedy and suffering to funnel money to a proven criminal enterprise.

Robertson's verbal statements and proven misrepresentation of his organization as a church, (sheltered from legal woes and taxes unlike the rest of us), his crossover in to blatant political organizing and influence SHOULD be cause for caution!

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According to its Web site, the mission of Operation Blessing International (OBI) "is to demonstrate God's love by alleviating human need and suffering in the United States and around the world." Founded in 1978 by Pat Robertson, the organization "was originally set up to help struggling individuals and families by matching their needs for items such as clothing, appliances, vehicles with donated items from viewers of The 700 Club." In 1986, Operation Blessing International Relief and Development Corporation (OBI) was formed as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to handle international relief projects. In 1993, all Operation Blessing activities were transferred to OBI.

While OBI trumpets its work at home and abroad through its Web site, other sources provide a more nuanced picture. In 1996, the Norfolk, Va.-based Virginia-Pilot newspaper reported that two pilots who were hired by the charity to fly humanitarian aid to Zaire in 1994 were used almost exclusively for Robertson's diamond mining operations. Chief pilot Robert Hinkle, claimed that in the six months he flew for Operation Blessing, only one or two of more than 40 flights were humanitarian -- the rest carried mining equipment. OBI resources were being diverted to support the African Development Co., a private corporation run by Robertson. At the time, Robertson also had a special relationship with Zaire 's late dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko.

Groups getting grants or subgrants will be allowed to consider religion in hiring and firing workers.

"My first impression when I took the job was that we'd be called Operation Blessing and we'd be doing humanitarian work," Hinkle, a former Peace Corps volunteer, told the Virginia-Pilot. "We got over there and 'Operation Blessing' was painted on the tails of the airplanes, but we were doing no humanitarian relief at all. We were just supplying the miners and flying the dredges from Kinshasa out to Tshikapa."

At first, an OPI spokesperson denied the charges by the Virginia Pilot. Later, however, a written statement from the group admitted Robertson's mining company used Operation Blessing planes "from time to time," but that most air missions in Zaire were for humanitarian or training purposes. "For example, medicine was transported to some 17 clinics in Zaire ," the spokesman told the paper. Hinkle called the OPI statement "a clear-cut lie."

In February 1995, Time magazine reported that Robertson's relationship with Sese Seko began after a branch of Operation Blessing "botched a corn-cultivation project on a 50,000-acre farm outside the capital, Kinshasa ."

Time also reported that in 1993, during the Rwandan refugee crisis, Operation Blessing "was criticized for spending too much money on transportation, pulling its workers out too soon and proselytizing. 'They were laying on hands,'" an American aid worker said. They were "'speaking in tongues and holding services while people were dying all around,'" she added. Time points out that although "many relief agencies are notorious for mismanagement and backbiting…Operation Blessing drew a considerable volume of negative reviews from fellow good Samaritans."

http://liberalslikechrist.org/about/robertsonblessings.html