(Note: the video above states that Phil Robertson said homosexuality leads to bestiality. That is incorrect and not what Phil Robertson said. Please read the interview or the article below to read for yourself the comments Robertson made.)
On Dec. 19, 2013, A&E confirmed that the patriarch on the hit show “Duck Dynasty” Phil Robertson was suspended indefinitely for remarks in which he described homosexuality a sin, and implied that gays and lesbians were sinners. The remarks prompted GLAAD to issue a statement calling for A&E to respond. The news has upset the show’s fans who knew from the beginning that the Robertson family was comprised of conservative Christians who use the name of Jesus Christ to conclude their family grace. It is unclear whether the suspension will result in a firing and cause Robertson to permanently lose his position on the show.
Before delving into the legalities of how A&E handled this controversy and GLAAD’s complaints, what is interesting are the remarks Phil Robertson made to GQ magazine. It should be determined whether Phil Robertson was sharing his own, personal beliefs, or speaking on behalf of the A&E network. Was Robertson a representative for the show when he granted the interview? Does he have a clause in his contract that says do not share your personal views on homosexuality? Do not publicly discuss what you believe is sin or paraphrase or quote the Bible?
Interestingly, Robertson made additionally comments about picking cotton side by side with African Americans before the civil rights era, and that he never saw a black person mistreated, yet the media has left those comments alone. Not so with the remarks that homosexuality is sin. GLAAD, jumped aboard and slammed Robertson for his comments, described them as “vile,” and indicated that Robertson was spreading “lies” about the homosexuality community.
Let’s take a look at the GQ interview and examine whether Robertson is protected by free speech and freedom of religion to share his views without the threat of losing his job.
Here is a link to the full Phil Robertson Duck Dynasty interview with Drew Magary.
Immediately in the interview, Robertson begins talking about God. The article states, “As we drive out into the woods, past a sign that reads parish maintenance ends, Phil is telling me all about the land around us and how the animals are a glorious gift from God and how blowing their heads off is part of His plan for us.
“Look at this,” he says, gesturing to the surrounding wilderness. “The Almighty gave us this. Genesis 9 is where the animals went wild, and God gave them wildness. After the flood, that’s when he made animals wild. Up until that time, everybody was vegetarian. After the flood, he said, ‘I’m giving you everything now. Animals are wild.’”
Certainly, there’s a lot there to anger vegan and animal rights groups worldwide, but still, Robertson’s family hunts, which is their right.
Continuing, Magary writes, “He is welcoming and gracious. He is a man who preaches the gospel of the outdoors and, to my great envy, practices what he preaches. He spends most of his time out here, daydreaming about what he calls a “pristine earth”: a world where nothing gets in the way of nature or the hunters who lovingly maintain it. No cities. No buildings. No highways.
Oh, and no sinners, too. So here’s where things get a bit uncomfortable. Phil calls himself a Bible-thumper, and holy (expletive), he thumps that Bible hard enough to ring the bell at a county-fair test of strength. If you watch Duck Dynasty, you can hear plenty of it in the nondenominational supper-table prayer the family recites at the end of every episode, and in the show’s no-cussing, no-blaspheming tone. But there are more things Phil would like to say—“controversial” things, as he puts it to me—that don’t make the cut. (This March, for instance, he told the Christian-oriented Sports Spectrum magazine that he didn’t approve of A&E editing out “in Jesus” from a family prayer scene, even though A&E says that the phrase has been uttered in at least seventeen episodes. )
Now this is where the interview takes a turn and lands Robertson in troubled waters. Robertson expands upon his belief of who sinners are, then uses paraphrased Bible verses to support his beliefs.
Magary writes, “Out here in these woods, without any cameras around, Phil is free to say what he wants. Maybe a little too free. He’s got lots of thoughts on modern immorality, and there’s no stopping them from rushing out. Like this one:
“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. 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.”
Here we clearly see that Robertson was in an atmosphere where he was speaking from his own personal beliefs. He said so repeatedly. Are his comments anti-gay? Are they calling the homosexual lifestyle sinful? Sure, they are. Is it Robertson’s constitutional right to share his beliefs on what he believes is sin and why he thinks homosexuality is an illogical choice for him?
With no apologies for being a Bible thumper, Robertson (now in his house with his family) continues the interview and explains his personal beliefs further.
“We’re Bible-thumpers who just happened to end up on television,” he tells me. “You put in your article that the Robertson family really believes strongly that if the human race loved each other and they loved God, we would just be better off. We ought to just be repentant, turn to God, and let’s get on with it, and everything will turn around.”
What does repentance entail? Well, in Robertson’s worldview, America was a country founded upon Christian values (Thou shalt not kill, etc.), and he believes that the gradual removal of Christian symbolism from public spaces has diluted those founding principles. (He and Si take turns going on about why the Ten Commandments ought to be displayed outside courthouses.) He sees the popularity of Duck Dynasty as a small corrective to all that we have lost.
“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong,” he says. “Sin becomes fine.”
It is when Magary asks Robertson “What is sinful?” that GLAAD seemingly took notice of Robertson’s answer and was offended.
Robertson replied, “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 says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “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.”
It should be stated that some media outlets are saying Robertson said homosexuality leads to bestiality, but if you look at the quote, that doesn't seem accurate. If that was Robertson's intent, then he would have been saying that homosexuality leads to bestiality then that leads to sleeping around with multiple women; and that hardly seems logical by any standpoint. It seems more fitting that Robertson was classifying homosexuality with a group of what he deemed to be "sexual sins" then went into the paraphrase of 1 Cor. 6:9-11.
Here is the verse that Phil Robertson paraphrased.1 Corinthians 6:9-11
New King James Version (NKJV)
9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals,[a] nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”
Robertson then explained his views on not discriminating against perceived sinners. The article continues, “As far as Phil is concerned, he was literally born again. Old Phil—the guy with the booze and the pills—died a long time ago, and New Phil sees no need to apologize for him: “We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the Almighty’s job. We just love ’em, give ’em the good news about Jesus—whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ’em out later, you see what I’m saying?”
This comment also offended GLAAD as Robertson likened gays and lesbians with drunks and terrorists. Apparently in Robertson’s mind, they are all the same, but it should be noted that Robertson’s intent was to say that while he believes homosexuality is a sin and homosexuals sinners, it isn’t his place to judge. But we know how these scandals work, and it appears the damage to Robertson’s career has been done.
This isn’t the first or last time a celebrity has come under fire for calling homosexuality a sin. Kirk Cameron called homosexuality unnatural, sports analyst Chris Broussard came under fire for calling homosexuality open rebellion towards God while on the air, and Pastor Joel Osteen found himself the target of backlash for telling Oprah Winfrey the Bible calls homosexuality a sin.
It seems something is wrong in America when someone loses their job for sharing their personal beliefs, opinions, and faith in an interview outside of A&E. It would have been a different situation if those comments and discussion were made on the air or during a Duck Dynasty show, but still, even then, Robertson would have the right to say them; though he might be bound by a contract with A&E.
It is unclear whether Robertson’s anti-gay remarks violated any clause in his A&E contract, but if there was no clause, it must be asked whether A&E has a legal right to fire or suspend indefinitely Robertson from the show.
Robertson is a Christian, he holds Christian views. He believes the Bible and takes it literally. He believes the Bible calls homosexuality a sin, and in this country, it isn’t against the law to be anti-gay.
There is no law in the United States that forces people to be gay or to approve of the homosexual lifestyle; though one could easily think there is.
America is a melting pot of people with different opinions and it is a sad day in America when people lose their job for sharing their own personal beliefs whether behind closed doors or in interviews.
It’s enough to make one wonder if there isn’t an agenda to stop all religions from saying they believe homosexuality is a sin. As for the “lies” Cruz accused Robertson of spreading about the homosexual community, we’re not certain what those were. It seemed clear that Robertson paraphrased the Bible and gave his own personal views on homosexuality as sin. We’re not aware of any “lies” in Robertson’s article.
What are your thoughts? Was A&E justified or unjustified when they chose to “indefinitely suspend” Phil Robertson from filming?