Pat Robertson, a former GOP presidential candidate and influential figure in the extreme, ultra-right-wing fringe of Christianity associated with such groups as the Christian Coalition, openly called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on his show “The 700 Club” Aug. 22.

Robertson told viewers, “We don’t need another $200 billion war to get rid of one strong-arm dictator. It’s a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.”

Chavez has led a peaceful revolution in Venezuela, which aims to put human needs above the desires of the rich oligarchy that used to control the country. The revolution has taken profits from the state’s oil company — formerly funneled into the coffers of the rich — and spent them on government programs for the poor. His stances against war in Iraq have angered Washington, and the White House was implicated in an April 2002 coup against Chavez, which was defeated by popular uprising.

“If he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it,” Robertson said.

Sheltreese McCoy, who saw Chavez speak at the World Festival of Youth and Students in Caracas this month, took exception to Robertson. “Listening to Chavez’s speeches were inspiring and invigorating. The hope and strength of his words resonated throughout the spirit of the event,” she told the World. “Robertson’s statement shows his ignorance.”

“Robertson is neither a patriot nor a Christian in his attitudes,” the Rev. Gil Dawes, a retired United Methodist minister in Des Moines, Iowa, told the World. “Assuming that someone has the right to eliminate an individual, or eliminate a race, or eliminate a nation, out of their own prejudices is a total misunderstanding of the intent of purpose of Christianity.”