As many people thought they would, the folks at A&E have reconsidered placing Phil Robertson on “hiatus” over his comments about the sinfulness of homosexuality, and are welcoming the Duck Dynasty patriarch back to the show, much to the chagrin of the homosexual activists who demanded that the “Duck Commander” be disciplined for standing on his Christian convictions.
“After discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups, A&E has decided to resume filming Duck Dynasty later this spring with the entire Robertson family,” the network said in its official statement December 27.
Among the comments for which the network had decided to discipline Robertson in his recent interview with GQ magazine was his labeling of homosexuality as sinful. “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there,” Robertson said when asked by GQ reporter Drew Magary what he considered sinful. “Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.” The Duck Dynasty star, who has always been frank and open about his Christian faith, went on to point out that homosexuality is just one behavior condemned by Scripture. “Don’t be deceived,” he added, paraphrasing 1 Corinthians 6:9. “Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
Robertson also made a comment starkly juxtaposing homosexual and heterosexual sex, which the Robertson family later conceded was “coarse,” and which homosexual activist groups such as GLAAD found offensive enough to demand that the network drop the show.
Additionally, racial grievance professionals such as Jesse Jackson took offense to comments Robertson made about growing up with black people in pre-Civil Rights Act Louisiana. “I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person,” recalled Robertson about his growing-up years, noting that “where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I'm with the blacks, because we're white trash. We're going across the field.... They're singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, 'I tell you what: These doggone white people' — not a word! Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”
Observing the traction GLAAD and other homosexual activists got with their complaints over Robertson's “anti-gay” statements, Jackson quickly weighed in on Robertson's supposedly racist comments, calling them “more offensive than the bus driver in Montgomery, Alabama, more than 59 years ago,” referring to the bus driver who sent Rosa Parks to the back of the bus. “At least the bus driver, who ordered Rosa Parks to surrender her seat to a white person, was following state law,” continued Jackson. “Robertson's statements were uttered freely and openly without cover of the law, within a context of what he seemed to believe was 'white privilege.'”
Following a statement from GLAAD, A&E officials quickly caved in to homosexual demands, placing Robertson on an unspecified “hiatus.” But a backlash of support from Duck Dynasty fans, Christians, and supporters of traditional values prompted the network to reverse its decision and drop its discipline of the 67-year-old star of the show.
“While Phil's comments made in the interview reflect his personal views based on his own beliefs and his own personal journey, he and his family have publicly stated they regret the 'coarse language' he used and the misinterpretation of his core beliefs based only on the article,” the network said in its statement designed to save as much face as possible over its misstep. The statement pointed out that Robertson “made it clear he would 'never incite or encourage hate.' We at A&E Networks expressed our disappointment with his statements in the article and reiterate that they are not views we hold.”
The network acknowledged what has made Duck Dynasty such a massive hit, noting that the show “resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family ... a family that America has come to love. As you might have seen in many episodes, they come together to reflect and pray for unity, tolerance, and forgiveness.”
While it is no secret that Robertson family members have butted heads with the network over their openness about their Christian values, network officials attempted to ride the wave of support for the clan by insisting that the values they embrace are “values that we at A&E Networks also feel strongly about.”
In a ham-handed attempt to find some positive in their blunder, the A&E folks said that they would use the unfortunate episode “to launch a national public service campaign promoting unity, tolerance, and acceptance among all people, a message that supports our core values as a company and the values found in Duck Dynasty.”
Responding to A&E's decision to reinstate Robertson, GLAAD released a statement expressing its hope that Robertson would “look African American and gay people in the eyes and hear about the hurtful impact of praising Jim Crow laws and comparing gay people to terrorists.” The gay activists also addressed the network, advising that “if dialogue with Phil is not part of next steps, then A&E has chosen profits over African American and gay people — especially its employees and viewers.”
Among those who came out early in defense of Phil Robertson was a group called Faith Driven Consumers, which launched a web-drive petition campaign, IstandWithPhil.com, asking Christians and supporters of traditional family values to contact A&E and encourage the network to reinstate Robertson. That petition drive garnered some 260,000 signatures in less than a week, and helped to persuade A&E officials of their error.
Petition organizer Chris Stone applauded A&E's decision to reverse its action, but questioned the network's sincerity about its reasons, and wondered whether network officials considered those who embrace conservative Christian values to “be a part of America's rich rainbow of diversity. Do they also now embrace the biblically based values and worldview held by the Robertson family and millions of Faith Driven Consumers?”
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, applauded the wise decision of A&E to disregard the bullying of homosexual groups such as GLAAD. “The attacks on Phil Robertson revealed to the American people that the push to redefine marriage is less about the marriage altar than it is fundamentally altering America's moral, political, and cultural landscape,” said Perkins. “A&E Network’s reversal in the face of backlash is quite telling to the American people who are growing tired of GLAAD and cultural elites who want to silence people and remove God and His word from every aspect of public life.”
Governor Bobby Jindal of the Robertson family's native Louisiana also applauded A&E's turnaround. “I am glad to hear that the folks at A&E came to their senses and recognized that tolerance of religious views is more important than political correctness,” said Jindal. “Today is a good day for the freedoms of speech and religious liberty.”
For its part, the Robertson clan, which had vowed not to continue without its patriarch at the helm of the show, steered clear of conflict in its statement over A&E's decision to back down, telling Fox News simply that the family was “excited to keep making a quality TV show for our dedicated fans, who have showed us wonderful support. We will continue to represent our faith and values in the most positive way through Duck Dynasty and our many projects that we are currently working on. The outpouring of support and prayer has encouraged and emboldened us greatly."
Photo of Phil Robertson: AP Images