Social network giant Twitter has reportedly blocked users from tweeting the phrase "iStandWithPhil.com," a hashtag representing the petition drive to have Phil Robertson reinstated to A&E's "Duck Dynasty" reality show. Robertson was indefinitely suspended from the show last week after he described homosexuality as a sin in an interview with GQ Magazine.
Faith Driven Consumer, an organization that connects Christian consumers with faith-compatible companies, announced Monday that Twitter has reportedly blocked use of the "iStandWithPhil.com" hashtag, and implores all followers of the petition to contact Twitter's customer support account to have the phrase reinstated to the social media network.
Since the Twitter campaign for Robertson was started four days ago, it has garnered nearly 200,000 supporters.
"Despite Twitter's shut down of iStandWithPhil.com, we are surging through 200,000 supporters. In recent days, iStandWithPhil.com is among the top trending hash tags on Twitter," Chris Stone, Founder of Faith Driven Consumer, said in a press release issued by the organization. "We're encouraging supporters to be heard, Tweet the @support or @twitter account, and use their other means of communication to get iStandWithPhil.com back online."
Users on the social network are still able to tweet "#iStandWithPhil," but when they attempt to tweet "iStandWithPhil.com" a message appears that reads: "Oops! A URL in your tweet appears to link to a page that has spammy or unsafe content." The press release issued by Faith Driven Consumer also states that a Google diagnostic test of their petition's webpage, iStandWithPhil.com, shows the website has not been flagged as suspicious or hosting malicious software within the past 90 days.
The "iStandWithPhil" petition requests A&E reinstate Robertson to the "Duck Dynasty" reality show, stating: "As a Faith Driven Consumer, I am signing this petition to demand that my views be treated with equality and respect in America's rich rainbow of diversity."
"I am asking your network to immediately reinstate Mr. Robertson to Duck Dynasty, and to formally apologize to him, his family, and the millions of viewers who tune in every week, stand by him, and share his worldview. While the LGBT community may be offended by his opposing viewpoint, your rash, discriminatory, and unfair treatment toward Mr. Robertson - a recognized symbol of the faith community - is a slap in the face to Faith Driven Consumers and everyday Americans alike."
Last week, A&E indefinitely suspended Robertson from appearing on his reality show after he told GQ Magazine's January issue that he believes "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?" Robertson added.
After Robertson was suspended from A&E, several influential Christian and political leaders, as well as members of the Robertson family, released statements standing behind the reality show star. The Robertson family said in their statement that they were standing behind their father and grandfather: "We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm. We are in discussions with A&E to see what this means for the future of Duck Dynasty."
There have been multiple petitions started in support of Phil since last week, and some have also experienced similar difficulties to the Faith Driven Consumer's "iStandWithPhil" campaign. The Facebook page "Boycott A&E until Phil Robertson is put back on Duck Dynasty" temporarily blocked its administrators from accessing it for eight hours, and then later said the block had been a mistake. The Facebook page has garnered over 1.7 million Likes since it was started last Wednesday.
Similarly, former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee said in a Facebook post that the social media network had also blocked him from accessing his pro-Robertson Facebook page, "Stand with Phil And Support Free Speech," which promotes an upcoming event in support of Phil Robertson.
Huckabee wrote on his Facebook page that he believes the social media network is intentionally trying to censor those supporting Phil Robertson. "Phil Robertson of 'Duck Dynasty' isn't the only one censored by the media thought police. When we put up an event page to show support for our pal Phil, FB blocked access to the page! What is happening to free speech for Christians? Have you seen the stuff FB allows when people attack me because of my faith? I allow the attacks on me on my own page. But when we try to show support for a Christian brother FB pulls the entire page! It's time to demand that 'tolerance' includes tolerance for Christians too!"
"Duck Dynasty" has been a major ratings magnet for A&E since it began airing in 2012. The show follows the lives of the Robertson family, who live in West Monroe, La. and spend their time hunting and making duck calls. The show is set to start its next season in January 2014.