Phil Robertson, star of the hit A&E reality show "Duck Dynasty," is gracing the cover of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's latest "Decision" magazine.
The February 2014 issue of "Decision" shows a photo of Robertson in his natural element, wearing camouflage gear and equipped with a shotgun and duck call, presumably standing in the swamps that line his expansive West Monroe, La., property.
A photo of the cover was tweeted by Matt Lewis, senior contributor at the Daily Caller with the caption "Phil Robertson makes the cover of Billy Graham's magazine." The headline accompanying Robertson's cover photo reads "Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson: In the Cross Hairs of the War on Christianity."
Robertson was recently involved in a public controversy over comments he made regarding his evangelistic beliefs on homosexuality in the January issue of GQ Magazine. In the interview, Robertson said he believes homosexuality to be sinful in a similar way that drunkenness and idolatry are sinful.
The reality show star's comments sparked a much greater debate on First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of religion, especially because the A&E network chose to suspend Robertson from his reality show indefinitely. Some argued that Robertson should not be punished for expressing his religious beliefs, while others questioned where one draws the line between religious expression and "hate speech."
Following a massive public backlash, A&E chose to reinstate Robertson to his show after only a nine-day suspension. The network released a statement, saying that although it expressed "disappointment" over Robertson's comments, it chose to reinstate him "after discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups."
Robertson's religious expression gained the support of many, including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and Russell Moore, president of Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Additionally, following Robertson's controversy, the Rev. Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, released a statement saying he stood in support of the southern businessman and his recent comments.
"I support my friend Phil Robertson," Franklin Graham said in a statement posted on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's website. "I have appreciated the Robertson family's commitment to biblical values, and that they have not backed down in a politically-correct world that is tolerant of everything except biblical standards and values. I pray that we would be a nation where we can disagree civilly while holding firm convictions."
Phil Robertson's "Duck Dynasty" reality show entered its fifth season earlier in January, and although it got off to a sluggish start in ratings, it managed to climb to a steady 7.48 million viewers in its third week. The show follows the lives of Robertson and his kin as they move forward with their "Duck Commander" duck call business, which Robertson started out of a shed in Louisiana in the early 1970s.
"Decision" is the official magazine of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and according to the organization's website, the purpose of the subscription-based publication is to "[encourage] and [strengthen] Christians in their daily walk with Christ," as well as provide "discipleship and teaching on how to reach out to others for Christ and stay informed on BGEA news."