(RNS) The “Duck Dynasty” family issued a statement Thursday evening (Dec. 20) supporting patriarch Phil Robertson and throwing the future of their successful hit reality show into jeopardy.
The A&E cable channel has put patriarch Phil Robertson, 67, on "indefinite" hiatus from filming after anti-gay remarks he made in the January issue of GQ erupted into debate about free speech.
Now the clan is thanking fans for their support, but isn't happy about the cable channel's decision.
"The family has spent much time in prayer since learning of A&E's decision. 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," the statement says.
"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. We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right."
In the interview with GQ, Robertson was asked about his definition of sin. “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there,” Robertson said. “Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.”
“It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer,” Robertson said in the interview. “I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”
In their statement, the family added that "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.’ Again, thank you for your continued support of our family."
Season 5 of the series is set to debut Jan. 15. Filming has finished and Robertson is featured in the 10 episodes. The Season 4 debut, which pulled in 11.8 million viewers in August, set a record for the cable channel.
(Ann Oldenburg writes for USA Today)
KRE END OLDENBURG