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A&E Networks announced "Duck Dynasty" patriarch Phil Robertson's indefinite suspension last week after he shared his views on homosexuality, but an inside source from the cable channel is understood to have said the cast member is likely to return in the fifth season, which is set to premiere on Jan. 15.
A&E intends to keep Robertson on the air, says Entertainment Weekly, quoting an anonymous, inside source, who said, "There's no negotiation to have; we're doing the show."
The source added the network hopes the media and fan furor will cool down over the Christmas season and that "tensions over shooting future episodes can then be resolved."
"We'll figure out a solution. It's just not going to happen overnight. Everybody will take a break for the holidays and regroup afterward. That's probably the smartest thing for everyone to do. Time heals a lot of wounds."
However, there is no official statement from A&E, which announced last Wednesday that Robertson's suspension was "indefinite" after the conservative Christian shared his views on homosexuality in the January issue of GQ magazine.
The reality show has been a huge hit for A&E, averaging an incredible 14.6 million viewers when including seven days of DVR playback, due in large part to the Robertson family's core Christian fans.
Millions of Robertson's fans have taken to social media to protest the suspension and demand his re-instatement.
A Facebook group, "Boycott A&E until Phil Robertson Is Put Back on Duck Dynasty," created last Thursday, has garnered more than 1.7 million likes.
An online petition on Change.org, "A&E Network: Bring Phil Robertson back!" had received about 114,800 signatures as of early Monday.
"Freedom of speech along with freedom of religion is being attacked every single day in this country," the petition states. "Phil Robertson simply stated what his convictions are. Homosexuals have their convictions and Christians respect them. There is a difference between respecting someone rights to exercise free will and imposing on others what we believe. Phil has done nothing more than state what he believes in."
Another online petition on istandwithphil.com had received about 191,700 as of early Monday.
"Mr. Robertson's comments in GQ Magazine are simply reflective of a Biblical view of sexuality, marriage, and family – a view that has stood the test of time for thousands of years and continues to be held by the majority of Americans and today's world as a whole," it states.
The Robertson family earlier 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 also hinted that the future of the show could be in jeopardy if A&E goes 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.