It's been a bumpy day for Phil Robertson, star of Duck Dynasty and paterfamilias of the family behind Duck Commander, a multimillion dollar company that produces duck-hunting merchandise. In an interview for January's GQ, the reporter asked Robertson about his view of sin: “'Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.'" His other remarks were even more graphic, suggesting that "a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus," but "sin...[is] just not logical."
The interview, made public on GQ's website today, has had potentially disastrous consequences for Robertson's career. Variety reports that A&E, Duck Dynasty's parent channel, has placed Robertson on indefinite filming hiatus following his remarks:
“We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty. His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community."
The Robertson clan are not private about their faith, often praying together while filming their show, which has made them folk heroes for conservative evangelicals. Phil has been known to preach at duck-calling seminars (yep, they exist), and this isn't his first time denouncing homosexuality. There are a number of Bible passages that deal with sexual behavior, and the passage Robertson paraphrased in his GQ interview was 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, which says "Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God." The Greek word used for "sodomite" in verse 9 (arsenokoitai) is disputed by scholars, some of whom claim it means "homosexual" and others of whom argue that there was no Greek noun for "homosexual."
Cultural momentum behind Duck Dynasty has been overwhelming, with 11.8 million viewers for its season 4 premiere. In a country that increasingly supports gay rights, including marriage, how Robertson's remarks will play out remains to be seen. And after this kerfuffle--and his indefinite filming hiatus--so does he.