While reality television star Phil Robertson has gained wide support from the mainstream Christian community following uproar over his remarks on homosexuality, he has also gained the possibly unwanted attention of extremist groups, including Westboro Baptist Church and Quran-burning Pastor Terry Jones.
Today, Westboro Baptist, an extremist religious group known for its aggressive protesting style, tweeted that it stands in solidarity with Phil Robertson of the A&E reality show "Duck Dynasty," who told GQ Magazine in a recent interview that he believes homosexuality is a sin, a belief in line with mainstream evangelical teaching.
"Hey @DuckDynastyAE, you think you can [expletive] on God's law and @WBCSays look the other way? Picketers, rev your engines!" the tweet states. Westboro Baptist also uploaded a photo of what appears to be a protest flyer that reads: "Don't apologize Duck Dude! If you claim to Fear and Obey God, never apologize for speaking the truth. Will Duck Dynasty star 'cave?'" The poster then goes on to quote Timothy 6:10, which states that the love of money is the root of all evil.
Westboro's aggressive and extremist expression of their faith, which often includes vulgarity and name-calling, is in stark contrast to the comments made by Robertson in the January edition of GQ Magazine. Robertson told journalist Drew Magary that although he believes homosexuality is a sin, he ultimately believes it is not his place to judge others.
"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?" Robertson said.
Robertson's comments have drawn a firestorm of media backlash with many saying he was being offensive toward the homosexual society. GLAAD released a statement demanding A&E end its ratings powerhouse reality show "Duck Dynasty" in light of Robertson's comments, and shortly after A&E issued a statement saying it was indefinitely suspending Robertson from the show.
Although Robertson has received criticism for his comments, he has also received a widespread amount of support from leaders in both the political and Christian communities. Multiple petitions asking A&E to reinstate Phil to the show have also been circulating around the Internet.
Along with Westboro Baptist, Quran-burning pastor Terry Jones of the Dove Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., has also voiced his backing for the "Duck Dynasty" family, based in West Monroe, La.
Jones, who has made media headlines multiple times for his planned Quran-burning protests that have sparked riots and deaths in the Middle East, sent out a press release Thursday saying, "What has happened to him, and to us, is an absolute travesty and a clear example of the attacks against the first amendment and the definite double standard that we operate under in the United States of America."
"And when a United States citizen exercises his first amendment rights, he is immediately condemned by the political system and the news media, with the goal of silencing him, thus stopping him from exercising his first amendment rights."
Conservative Christians have also expressed their opposition to the suspension. Russell Moore, president of Southern Baptist Convention's Ethic and Religious Liberty Commission, issued a statement saying that although some of Robertson's anatomical references in the interview were crude, ultimately what the duck hunter said falls in line with the teachings of the Bible.
"We believe that Jesus is lord over sexuality, and he says that sexuality is expressed rightly only in the marriage of a man and a woman. That's not new. We also think we're all sinners, and that God calls us all to repentance. That's not new either," he said.
Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said in a press release that the Robertson controversy shows a dangerous threat to freedom of speech and freedom of religion in the U.S. "So the controversy over Duck Dynasty sends a clear signal to anyone who has anything to risk in public life – say nothing about the sinfulness of homosexual acts or risk sure and certain destruction by the revolutionaries of the new morality. You have been warned."
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal also issued a statement saying "the politically correct crowd is tolerant of all viewpoints, except those they disagree with. I don't agree with quite a bit of stuff I read in magazine interviews or see on TV. In fact, come to think of it, I find a good bit of it offensive. But I also acknowledge that this is a free country and everyone is entitled to express their views."
Although A&E released a statement on behalf of Robertson clarifying that he treats everyone with respect, the Robertson family has yet to respond to A&E's decision to suspend Phil indefinitely from the show. The show has broken numerous ratings records in 2013 and is lauded by many as being a wholesome reality show that follows the lives of the duck-hunting, hijinks playing Robertson family.