Lara Zizic and David Turner are set to debut their documentary “Mission Congo” at the Toronto International Film Festival. The documentary based on the reporting of journalist Bill Sizemore shines a light on decades old allegations that Robertson used money intended for refugees in Africa in order to open his own diamond-mining venture.
The allegations run that, in the wake of the Rwandan genocide, Robertson encouraged viewers of the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “The 700 Club” to donate money to his Operation Blessing International. He claimed that the money would go to helping refugees which had made their way into Zaire (currently the Democratic Republic of the Congo).
However, those who worked for the organization claim that, rather than transporting aid, the cargo planes that they piloted hauled equipment for a Robertson-backed diamond mine hundreds of miles away from the refugees. Sizemore told the Virginia Quarterly Review back in 2008 that the one pilot kept notes on their trips.
One of those notes read “Prayed for diamonds”.
The two said in a release that “Sometimes a story hits you so profoundly that you simply have to act. We were researching a fiction script when we came across an article mentioning Robertson’s dual activities in Congo. We felt that these activities, and implied level of deception, were unfathomable on so many levels that we had to find out more. How could something like this happen? Why was there not more coverage in the media? How did he get away with it? If it happened then, is it still happening now?”
The Virginia Office of Consumer Affairs did investigate the claims made against Robertson, and did find that the televangelist “willfully induced contributions from the public through the use of misleading statements and other implications,” but the state attorney’s office refused to prosecute.
Robertson used the decision not to prosecute to claim his innocence in the matter and bolster the money coming in.
He was not interviewed for the film as he refused.
Robertson has come under increasing derision as his statements attacking various things from feminism to homosexuality have gotten increasingly bizarre and outlandish.