The producer behind the popular "Duck Dynasty" TV show has spoken out on the controversy surrounding star Phil Robertson who was temporarily suspended by A&E after making controversial comments on homosexuality, saying that the crew has several gay people in it.
"I know Phil Robertson. I know his beliefs. I know how he treats a crew that has several gay people on it, and people of different races and people from all different places," said Deirdre Gurney, executive producer of Duck Dynasty, according to a Hollywood Reporter article on Tuesday.
As for the controversial comments themselves, Gurney added that Robertson does not deny who he is, and that he stands by his beliefs.
"But that isn't how he treats people – it is what he thinks. I think there's a separation between what he thinks and how he thinks people should be treated. I don't think he was saying anything about how people should be treated."
In December, Robertson was suspended by the network after telling GQ magazine: "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 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?
He added: "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."
After conservative Christians took to social media to protest Phil Robertson's suspension and launched online campaigns in support of the Duck Dynasty's star, Robertson was reinstated.
Willie Robertson said in another interview in March that his father "made Christmas very interesting" for the family.
"I remember doing that (GQ interview), and this guy (interviewer Drew Magary), I think he already had what he wanted to put, and he was certainly asking specifically this and that, and Phil just said what he thought, what was on his heart … [Phil] did some paraphrasing there."
Willie's wife, Korie, added: "Anybody who knows [Phil], any gay, straight, black, white, anybody who knows Phil knows that he is about love and his message is about God's love, God's grace and God's forgiveness, ultimately."
Gurney explained that the crew was not prepared for the controversy that stemmed from Robertson's comments, and did not know what it would mean for the show.
"We were out of it as the production company. When this happens with talent or the network, it's really the network's job [to handle it]. We make it for them, but it's their show – it's their job to decide how they want to handle it and what they want to do. The hard thing with that was it happened over Christmas holiday."
The executive said that she did not speak out during the controversy, which she admitted was difficult.
"How I felt was, 'I wish I could explain to people the person I know.' When someone makes a comment to the press and things are taken out of context or reporters are dealing with people who don't have media training and aren't used to this and they're maybe, at times, in general cornered into saying something that someone thinks is salacious or wants to make a headline out of."