Phil Robertson has been reinstated to "Duck Dynasty" by A&E after the network back down from "indefinitely" suspending him last Wednesday following his comments labeling homosexuality a sin. The A&E network received massive backlash following the suspension with thousands of Duck Dynasty fans demanding Robertson be reinstated, and many commenting they would boycott watching the show if the network did not back down. A&E has now confirmed that Robertson would rejoin the cast, and that they would continue filming him and his family in 2014.
"Duck Dynasty" has sold close to $400 million in related merchandise, and has made the A&E network about $80 million in advertising sales revenue through September of this year. The A&E network has said that made its decision to reinstate Phil Robertson "after discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups."
"While Phil's comments made in the (GQ) 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 misinterpretation of his core beliefs based only on the article. He also made it clear he would 'never incite or encourage hate'," the network said in a statement.
It also added that Phil only represented one voice on a show that was based upon an entire family — a context A&E pointed to as showcasing values with which the network itself said it resonated.
"Duck Dynasty is not a show about one man's views. It resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family, a family that America has come to love. As you might have seen in many episodes, they come together to reflect and pray for unity, tolerance and forgiveness. These are three values that we at A&E Networks also feel strongly about," it stated.
A&E suspended Phil Robertson on Dec. 18 for explicit comments about homosexuality that drew the ire of LGBT rights groups such as GLAAD.
In the GQ interview, Robertson said that homosexuality was a sin along with various other sexual sins. He commented that "bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men. 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."
Robertson also used particularly explicit language while explaining that homosexuality made little sense to him.
"It seems 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," he added.
Following those comments, GLAAD led a wave of criticism against Phil Robertson, with gay activists calling for the Duck Dynasty show to be canceled immediately. A&E quickly moved to "indefinitely suspend" Robertson, which sparked even more widespread backlash from free speech advocates and Christians. Hundreds of thousands of fans of the show denounced A&E on social media and formed various online petitions to call for A&E to reinstate Robertson. Conservative political pundits and politicans such as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Alaska and Arkansas governors Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee also spoke out in favor of religious freedom, free speech in their support of Phil Robertson.
The latest season "Duck Dynasty" is set to premiere on Jan. 15.