Televangelist Pat Robertson used a portion of his Tuesday 700 Club broadcast to defend an ESPN reporter who said that NBA player Jason Collins was "walking in open rebellion to God" for announcing he was openly gay.

After Collins came out in a Sports Illustrated column published on Monday, ESPN reporter Chris Broussard said that he did not believe that an NBA player could be both openly gay and a Christian.

"If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, whatever it maybe, I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ," Broussard explained. "So I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I don’t think the bible would characterize them as a Christian."

On Tuesday, Robertson insisted that the ESPN reporter had been correct because "fornication is a sin."

"Somehow we've said if it's heterosexual fornication, it's bad; if it's homosexual fornication -- that used to be called an abomination in the Bible -- now it's a protected civil right," he continued. "And so somebody that says that that kind of conduct is sinful is now being pilloried in the press. He's telling the truth! This is what the Bible says!"

The TV preacher pointed out that "these media types" who were criticizing Broussard had chosen "a lifestyle that takes them outside the protection of God."

"You can't tell them if they want to go to hell or heaven, that's their business," he declared. "But don't tell somebody that he can't speak specifically about what the Christian faith says about certain conduct. There isn't anything bigoted about that."

"So, our hat's off to somebody who's brave enough to say it. But, whew, let's hope the people at ESPN will man up and defend their guy for speaking what is truth."

In a statement on Monday, ESPN said that the network regretted "that a respectful discussion of personal viewpoints became a distraction from today’s news."

"ESPN is fully committed to diversity and welcomes Jason Collins’ announcement."

Watch this video from CBN's 700 Club, broadcast April 30, 2013.

(h/t: Media Matters)