The "Duck Dynasty" family is standing behind patriarch Phil Robertson, who was suspended by A&E Wednesday
after he made anti-gay remarks in an interview with GQ magazine
On Thursday, the Robertson family issued a statement thanking fans for their "prayers and support," while expressing disappointment with A&E for its decision to put Robertson on an indefinite hiatus. The family said they "cannot imagine" the show without him and are "in discussions" with the network about "Duck Dynasty's" future.
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"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," the Robertson's statement read.
"While some of Phil’s unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible," the statement continued. "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."
As for whether or not "Duck Dynasty" will have a future on A&E, the family appeared uncertain in its closing remarks.
"We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right," the family said in conclusion. "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."
The 67-year-old is the patriarch of the Robertson clan on the A&E reality television series that revolves around a Louisiana family that made its fortune with products for duck hunters.
Now in its fourth season on A&E, "Duck Dynasty" is one of the most popular reality TV shows, drawing 9.6 million viewers with its season three finale earlier this year.
The Robertson family statement follows a barrage of support from fans of the show and conservative politicians from the likes of Sarah Palin and Louisiana's Republican Governor Bobby Jindal.
"Phil Robertson and his family are great citizens of the state of Louisiana," Jindal said
on the official website of the governor's office earlier in the week. "The politically correct crowd is tolerant of all viewpoints, except those they disagree with."
On Wednesday, Palin wrote on Facebook that "free speech is an endangered species,"
adding "those 'intolerants' hatin' and taking on the Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us."
A&E's decision to suspend Robertson also generated backlash
from fans on various social media sites. Fans used the hashtags "#BringPhilBack" and "#StandWithPhil" calling for the public to boycott the network until executives reverse their decision.
In an interview with NewsmaxTV on Thursday, conservative media analyst Brent Bozell attributed A&E's quick to decision to suspend Robertson on Hollywood's supposed "gay lobby."
"This is A&E making a decision because the single most powerful lobby in Hollywood is the gay lobby. It's a reality. They are hugely successful," Bozell told NewsmaxTV
Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh also weighed into the fray Thursday
"I think a lot of people are sick and tired of being pushed around by a very small minority of leftists who use weapons, like political correctness and censorship, intimidation, and everything else, in order to shut up the people who say things they don't want to hear or disagree with," he said.
In his interview with GQ, Robertson paraphrased biblical passages that opposed homosexual behavior.
"[You] 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," he said. "It seems like, to me a woman would be more desirable [than a man]. ... That's just me."
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"She's got more to offer," he continued. "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."
The A&E reaction came shortly after a swift rebuke delivered by a spokesman from the gay rights organization GLAAD, in which he said Robertson's comments were not reflective of how "true Christians" view gays, considering "Phil and his family claim to be Christian."
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