Arts & Entertainment Network, a little more than a week after announcing it was putting Duck Commander Phil Robertson of the immensely popular “Duck Dynasty” television show on hiatus over some comments he made, is backing down.
The network today released a statement, carried by the Hollywood Reporter, that it is planning to resume work on the programming, with Phil Robertson and the rest of the “Dynasty” cast.
The network earlier had jumped to a decision to suspend Robertson when homosexual activists complained that Robertson, paraphrasing from the Bible, said homosexuality is a sin.
The backlash was immediate and huge, and in the face of the Robertsons’ faith, viewer outrage, and visions of the end of a huge money-maker for the network, A&E backed down.
Its statement said, “As a global media content company, A&E Networks’ core values are centered around creativity, inclusion and mutual respect. We believe it is a privilege for our brands to be invited into people’s home and we operate with a strong sense of integrity and deep commitment to these principals. That is why we reacted so quickly and strongly to a recent interview with Phil Robertson.”
They continued, “While Phil’s comments made in the interview reflect his personal views based on his own beliefs, and his own personal journey, he and his family have publicly stated they regret the ‘coarse language’ he used and the mis-interpretation of his core beliefs based only on the article. He also made it clear he would ‘never incite or encourage hate.’ We at A&E Networks expressed our disappointment with his statements in the article, and reiterate that they are not views we hold.”
But the network said the show “resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family… a family that America has come to love.”
The statement continued, “So after discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups, A&E has decided to resume filming Duck Dynasty later this spring with the entire Robertson family.”
A&E will be deflecting criticism from homosexual activists for its decision to reinstate Robertson with a public service campaign promoting “tolerance,” according to the network’s statement to Hollywood Reporter:
“We will also use this moment to launch a national public service campaign (PSA) promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people, a message that supports our core values as a company, and the values found in Duck Dynasty. These PSAs will air across our entire portfolio.”
Hollywood Reporter confirmed the program is a “huge asset” for the network, with an average 13.4 million viewers.
A petition was set up to tell Arts & Entertainment Network that it didn’t handle well the controversy – the screeching that erupted when Phil Robertson simply stated what the Bible has taught for several thousand years: That sin is sin, God is God and people are not.
The petition calls for Phil Robertson’s reinstatement and an apology to the millions of viewers and patrons.
The petition even offers some gentle advice for the network: “Wise up.”
Robertson’s comments and A&E’s response of putting him on suspension from the far-and-away most popular show on cable television have flooded news reports over the last week.
After homosexual activists lobbied the network to suppress Robertson’s speech, A&E issued the following statement:
“We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty. 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 has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.”
See why Duck Commander Phil Robertson is “Happy, Happy, Happy.” And get up close and personal with The Duck Commander Family
Robertson’s comments came in an interview with GQ magazine in which he championed biblical values and the battle against breaking God’s commandments.
“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong. … Sin becomes fine. 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.
Paraphrasing a passage from the book of I Corinthians, he said: “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.
“We’re Bible-thumpers who just happened to end up on television,” he said of his family’s instant rise to fame. “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.”
But Phil, 67, also made it clear that he and his family will “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?”
The Robertson Family earlier issued a statement on the Duck Commander website, saying they could not imagine the Duck Dynasty show continuing “without our patriarch at the helm.”
Support for Robertson already has come from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin; Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal; Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; U.S. Rep. Stockman, R-Texas; the National Organization for Marriage and hundreds of thousands of those Americans who watch TV.
Even the words of President Ronald Reagan appear to apply to the arguments today. At a Dallas prayer breakfast in 1984, Reagan addressed the importance of religion in America.
“Those who created our country, the Founding Fathers and Mothers, understood that there is a divine order which transcends the human order,” he said. He cited the Mayflower Compact (“In the name of God”), the Declaration of Independence (“Nature’s God”) and the fact oaths of office are oaths “before God.”
“The state was tolerant of religious belief, expression and practice. … Society, too, was tolerant,” he said. Until the courts took prayer out of schools, and the attacks began.
“Those who are attacking religion claim they are doing it in the name of tolerance, freedom and open-mindedness. Question: Isn’t the real truth that they are intolerant of religion?”
A&E gave Robertson the boot Dec. 18 after learning of his remarks.
See why Duck Commander Phil Robertson is "Happy, Happy, Happy." And get up close and personal with The Duck Commander Family