It has been a wild ride for the Duck Dynasty clan since the popular “reality” show's hosting network, A&E, placed family patriarch Phil Robertson on “hiatus” over his condemnation of homosexuality, which appeared in the latest issue of GQ magazine. Homosexual activists naturally applauded A&E's actions, and while network officials may have thought they were taking the politically correct high road, it soon became apparent that there are more fans of the down-home Robertson and his simple Christian values than there are homosexual activists who would like to see the “Duck Commander” silenced.
In an effort to hop on the right band wagon, restaurant chain Cracker Barrel quickly announced that it was dropping Duck Dynasty items it carried in its gift stores out of supposed sensitivity to its customers. “We removed selected [Duck Dynasty] products which we were concerned might offend some of our guests while we evaluate the situation,” Cracker Barrel said in a statement on the heels of demands by homosexual groups like GLAAD that A&E drop the wildly popular program. The restaurant chain emphasized that its mission is all about “pleasing people. We operate within the ideals of fairness, mutual respect, and equal treatment of all people.”
Cracker Barrel executives soon discovered, however, that in trying to “please” a small contingent of homosexual activists, they had alienated a majority of their key customers, whose displeasure over the chain's action was reflected in the comments of the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins. “Cracker Barrel must be off their rocker,” Perkins cut loose in a statement, adding that for the chain to “take the bait of an organization like GLAAD, which has led the attack on Phil Robertson, they are betraying the values of the vast majority of their customers.”
That displeasure was echoed by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who said that he had “no respect for a company that bows to the slightest pressure from the politically correct.”
As thousands of angry patrons contacted Cracker Barrel to vow that they would stop patronizing their erstwhile favorite restaurant, the chain's executives found themselves doing an about-face within hours of their original statement.
“Our intent was to avoid offending, but that’s just what we’ve done,” Cracker Barrel said in a statement on its Facebook page. “You told us we made a mistake. And, you weren’t shy about it. You wrote, you called, and you took to social media to express your thoughts and feelings. You flat out told us we were wrong. We listened. Today we are putting all our Duck Dynasty products back in our stores. And, we apologize for offending you.”
Another Duck Dynasty sponsor, Under Armour, attempted to side-step the quagmire, expressing its disagreement with Robertson's condemnation of homosexuality, but saying that it would continue as a show sponsor. “The recent comments in the GQ article are not reflective of Under Armour’s beliefs and do not represent our point of view,” Under Armour said in a statement designed to placate the handful of homosexuals who include Under Armor garments in their wardrobes. “As a company, we are committed to diversity and inclusion and believe in treating everyone equally and with respect.”
Meanwhile, the Robertson family has come out with a statement of its own, standing behind Phil Robertson, confirming that its other members embrace his biblical values, and hinting that Duck Dynasty's days may be numbered on A&E.
“The family has spent much time in prayer since learning of A&E’s decision,” the family statement read. “We want you to know that first and foremost we are a family rooted in our faith in God and our belief that the Bible is His word. While some of Phil’s unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible. Phil is a Godly man who follows what the Bible says are the greatest commandments: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart' and 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' Phil would never incite or encourage hate.”
Robertson family members said that they were “disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right. We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but, as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm. We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty.”
The network offered no response to the family's statement.
As for Phil Robertson, he emphasized on December 22 that he had no intention of backing down from his biblical views on homosexuality. “I will not give or back off from my path,” he said, as quoted by the U.K.'s Daily Mail.
While leading a Sunday school class at the Church of Christ he attends in West Monroe, Louisiana, Robertson defended his comments in the GQ article, saying that he was simply quoting Scripture, and emphasizing that he bore no ill will toward anyone. “I love all men and women,” he said, according to the Daily Mail. “I am a lover of humanity, not a hater.”
During the 45-minute Sunday school class December 22, Robertson revisited some of the comments he made in the GQ article, which enraged homosexuals. “I have been immoral, drunk, high,” he told the class, according to the Daily Mail. “I ran with the wicked people for 28 years and I have run with the Jesus people since and the contrast is astounding.”
He added later that “all the diseases that just so happen to follow sexual mischief … boy there are some microbes running around now. Sexual sins are numerous and many. I have a few myself. So what is your safest course of action? If you’re a man, find yourself a woman, marry her, and keep your sex right there.”
Robertson told his class that, according to the Bible, “the acts of the sinful nature are obvious. Sexual immorality, is number one on the list. How many ways can we sin sexually? My goodness. You open up that can of worms and people will be mad at you over it. I am just reading what was written over 2,000 years ago. Those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom. All I did was quote from the scriptures.... If you give them the bad news, they’ll start kicking and screaming. But you love them more than you fear them, so you tell them.”
He added that the good news is: “Jesus will take sins away, if you’re a homosexual he’ll take it away. If you’re an adulterer, if you’re a liar, what’s the difference? If you break one sin you may as well break them all. If we lose our morality, we will lose our country.... Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all walk around without stealing from each other and killing each other? Why don’t we just love each other enough that we wouldn’t want to do these things to each other?”
Addressing the recent controversy, Robertson noted that “Jesus Christ was the most perfect being to ever walk this planet, and he was persecuted and nailed to the cross, so please don’t be surprised when we get a little static.”
Robertson concluded the class with a prayer, vowing that he would not back down from his biblical convictions, “because you conquered death, Father, so we are not worried about all the repercussions.”
Photo: AP Images