A&E Networks has suspended indefinitely "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson from its popular reality show after the conservative Christian shared his belief that homosexuality is a sin in the January issue of GQ magazine. However, Robertson's Christian fans, expressing their outrage on social media, have vowed to boycott the network.
A&E said in a statement Wednesday evening that it was disappointed to read Robertson's remarks and the "Duck Dynasty" patriarch's beliefs were personal and not a reflection of the network's views.
"His personal views in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely," reads the statement.
Robertson was barred from filming the reality show, which has been a huge hit for A&E due to the Robertson family's core Christian fans, many of whom have threatened to boycott the cable network for suspending its leading star.
By Wednesday night, A&E's official Facebook page had been flooded with comments like those shown below:
"Shame on you A&E! Just because Phil Robertson sticks to his beliefs, that you don't agree with, you condemn him. He may not be tolerant of the LGBT community, but you are not tolerant of Christians!" - Robert Kruse
"Your (censorship) of Phil Robertson is disgusting and ridiculous. You are all idiots for 'punishing' him for answering a question on an interview. You need him a lot more than he needs you, and you better consider that before you take further action. I can only hope that they entire Robertson family will tell you to take it and shove it. You are what is wrong with America. Censorship at it best. Congratulations, you have lost another viewer." - Brian Leppard
"The reason why 'Duck Dynast'y is one of the most favorite shows is because of their faith! For you to punish Phil for standing up for his views is very disappointing. People are not punished for talking negative about Christians, but let someone stand on the views of the Bible and they get punished. I will not be watching your channel until you take back your punishment of Phil!!!" - Crystal McLemore Huggins
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In the GQ interview, made available online Wednesday and on newsstands Dec. 24, Robertson makes the colorful, yet blunt remark: "It seems like, 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."
Robertson, who also made controversial comments about America's Jim Crow era, says at a later point in the GQ feature, which also discusses his conversion to Christianity, "Everything is blurred on what's right and what's wrong. Sin becomes fine."
The writer then poses the question: "What, in your mind, is sinful?" To which Robertson responds:
"Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men."
Paraphrasing Corinthians, Robertson adds: "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's expressed belief, shared by most conservative Christians, was condemned by pro-LGBT groups, such as GLAAD, which called for the comments to result in an end to the "Duck Dynasty" reality show.
"Phil and his family claim to be Christian, but Phil's lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe," said GLAAD representative Wilson Cruz in a statement. "He clearly knows nothing about gay people or the majority of Louisianans — and Americans — who support legal recognition for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples. Phil's decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors who now need to reexamine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families."
Robertson had issued a statement through A&E before his suspension earlier Wednesday to The Huffington Post, which read: "I myself am a product of the 60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior. My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together. However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other."
Late Wednesday night, "Duck Dynasty" fans caused "Phil Robertson," "Duck Dynasty," and "A&E" to trend on Twitter and were using the hashtag "#StandWithPhil" to rally support for the star. The Facebook page, "We Stand With Phil," launched in support of the conservative Christian that same night, had accumulated tens of thousands of "likes."
"Duck Dynasty," lauded for its family wholesomeness and conservative values, has been a ratings powerhouse for A&E, reportedly averaging 14 million viewers each episode. The reality show, prepared to premiere its fifth season in January, follows the Robertson clan's Duck Commander duck call business in Louisiana and features a prayer at the end of every episode.