Is A&E about to lose its hit reality series, “Duck Dynasty”? It’s looking like the network might be facing a showdown with the Robertson family after patriarch Phil Robertson’s anti-gay comments in an interview with GQ.
Following the news that the 67-year-old Duck Commander was put on an “indefinite hiatus” from filming, the Robertson family released a statement on its website:
“We want to thank all of you for your prayers and support. 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. 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. 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.“
While the statement doesn’t clearly say that “Duck Dynasty” would not go on without the patriarch, the family firmly stands behind Phil and appears to be challenging A&E to overturn its decision based on Phil’s “constitutionally protected right.”
A&E has yet to counter the Robertson’s statement or comment on the fate or potential canceling of “Duck Dynasty.”
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The network previously expressed “disappointment” in Phil’s comments in GQ, in a statement released on Dec. 19. “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 network explained along with the confirmation of his suspension from filming.
The decision to put Phil Robertson on an indefinite hiatus came after GLAAD countered the "Duck Dynasty" patriarch's interview comments by stating that Phil’s words about the LGBT community “fly in the face of what true Christians believe.”
A&E also received some heat from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) for racially insensitive comments he made in the same GQ interview.
And while the self-proclaimed “Bible thumper” is getting a lot of backlash, there are many that are rallying around Phil Robertson. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal released a statement claiming that he believes Miley Cyrus’ actions are far worse than Robertson’s interview, and that Phil should be protected by the fact that “everyone is entitled to express their views.” Sarah Palin expressed similar views, posting on her Facebook page that “Free speech is an endangered species.” The former politician continued that “those ‘intolerants’ hatin’ and taking on the Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us.” Others are using the power of the Internet to set up petitions like IStandWithPhil.com, which demands that Phil Robertson be reinstated to “Duck Dynasty.”
A new season of “Duck Dynasty” is currently set to premiere on Jan. 15 at 10 p.m.