'Duck Dynasty' Clan Warns Show Could End

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Friday, 20 Dec 2013 09:12 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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"Duck Dynasty" is in danger of going off the air after the Robertson clan warned that they "cannot imagine" doing the A&E series without patriarch Phil Robertson who has been suspended indefinitely.

While one million people are supporting a proposed boycott of the show, the family released a statement on their Duck Commander website, saying they are in talks with the A&E cable channel over the future of the reality show blockbuster, Fox News reported Friday.

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"We want to thank all of you for your prayers and support," said the Robertsons. "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."

The series, one of the most popular on cable, is due to return for its fifth season on Jan. 15, with many episodes already filmed. But now it is not known whether a sixth season will be made.

Robertson was suspended after bluntly expressing his opinion on homosexuality in an interview with GQ magazine.

Asked what he considered sinful behavior, he said, “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.”

Paraphrasing a passage from Corinthians, he added, “Don’t be deceived. 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.”

A&E quickly decided to pull Robertson from the filming of the fifth season indefinitely while also declaring that his personal views do not represent those of the network, which has always been "strong supporters of the LGBT community."

Robertson's controversial remarks have sparked a national debate over freedom of speech and freedom of religion. His comments were condemned by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), but conservative Republicans, including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, have come to his defense.

Duck Dynasty viewers have also weighed in. Over one million people have "liked" the Facebook page set up to demand Robertson's return to the show, called "Boycott A&E Until Phil Robertson is Put Back on Duck Dynasty."

"This page is to show support for the freedom of speech of Americans. Unless Phil is reinstated to the show, we refuse to watch the A&E channel," it reads, according to the CBS local affiliate in Houston.

According to CNN, 70,000 people have also signed a petition calling for Robertson to be brought back. The petition reads, "Freedom of speech along with freedom of religion is being attacked every single day in this country. Phil Robertson simply stated what his convictions are. Homosexuals have their convictions and Christians respect them."

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But GLAAD takes a different view.

"What’s clear is that such hateful anti-gay comments are unacceptable to fans, viewers, and networks alike," said spokesperson Wilson Cruz. "By taking quick action and removing Robertson from future filming, A&E has sent a strong message that discrimination is neither a Christian nor an American value."

In his GQ interview, Robertson also made incendiary remarks about black people, prompting outrage from the NAACP.

"I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person," Robertson said in the interview, speaking about his state of Louisiana. "Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues."

The NAACP and the Human Rights Campaign have written a joint letter to the president of A&E expressing their "outrage and deep concern about the recent racist, homophobic, and ill-informed remarks made by Phil Robertson."

"Mr. Robertson claims that, from what he saw, African Americans were happier under Jim Crow. What he didn't see were lynching and beatings of black men and women for attempting to vote or simply walking down the street," the letter stated, according to CNN.

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