- (Photo: Twitter)
Two of the Facebook groups created to show support to "Duck Dynasty" patriarch Phil Robertson, who was suspended from the A&E show for sharing his views on homosexuality, have received more than 3 million likes in just three days.
The Facebook group, "Boycott A&E until Phil Robertson Is Put Back on Duck Dynasty," garnered 1.7 million likes, and another one called, "Stand With Phil Robertson," received 1.5 million likes as of late Saturday.
Both the groups were created on Thursday.
"We're now at just under 1.6 MILLION fans! The petition this page is helping is only 9,000 signers from 400,000!!!" the Stand With Phil Robertson group announced early Sunday, declaring its plan to deliver the petition at backphil.com to A&E's headquarters Monday.
"We believe A&E owes Phil an apology and should re-instate him to the show," says the petition, which is just one of the many launched by conservative groups.
The group also posted the picture of a huge stone billboard outside the Midwest City Community Church of the Nazarene in Oklahoma, which says: "The great men in the Bible had beards too! Fear the beard." The post received about 39,000 likes and 7,000 comments within hours.
"Today, when you gather with your family or just gather them up and pray together just like Phil does! Hold them close together and know that praying together keeps your family strong," said a post on the Boycott A&E group's page. "Don't be afraid to voice your opinions. Do you ever see any fear in the eyes of Phil Robertson when speaking about Christ? We have to be the same way in speaking about Freedom of Speech," the post added, attributing it to the "Wayne Dupree Show."
However, while millions are backing Robertson, the southern restaurant and country store chain Cracker Barrel Saturday removed "selected products" from shelves that "might offend" some diners, according to Forbes.
"Cracker Barrel's mission is Pleasing People. We operate within the ideals of fairness, mutual respect and equal treatment of all people. These ideals are the core of our corporate culture," the chain said on its Facebook page. "We continue to offer Duck Commander products in our stores. We removed selected products which we were concerned might offend some of our guests while we evaluate the situation. We continually evaluate the products we offer and will continue to do so."
A&E announced Wednesday that it has suspended Robertson indefinitely from its show after the conservative Christian shared his views on homosexuality in the January issue of GQ magazine.
"His personal views in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community," A&E said in a statement. "The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely."
The reality show has been a huge hit for A&E due to the Robertson family's core Christian fans.
The Robertson family has defended its patriarch and Christian faith in an official media statement. "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," the Robertsons said. The family hinted that the future of the show – with a fifth season set to premiere in January 2014 – could be in jeopardy if A&E go through with its indefinite suspension.
Harvest Crusades evangelist Pastor Greg Laurie, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Russell Moore, president of Southern Baptist Convention's Ethic and Religious Liberty Commission, are among those who have expressed outrage over the suspension of Robertson.
"Phil Robertson and his family are great citizens of the State of Louisiana. 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," Jindal said. "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. In fact, I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment. It is a messed up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended."
Camille Paglia, a social critic and a lesbian activist, also blasted the A&E for its action. "To express yourself in a magazine in an interview - this is the level of punitive PC, utterly fascist, utterly Stalinist, OK, that my liberal colleagues in the Democratic Party and on college campuses have supported and promoted over the last several decades," she said on Laura Ingraham's radio show.