The Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission president blasted A&E Networks for "censorious cultural fundamentalism" after it suspended "Duck Dynasty" patriarch Phil Robertson for making comments critical of homosexuality.
In a post on his website, Russell D. Moore argued, "…I hardly think silencing him can be called open-minded. In fact, it's the sort of censorious cultural fundamentalism that is neither 'progressive' nor 'pluralistic.'"
A&E explained on Wednesday evening that that it has moved to indefinitely suspend Robertson from the popular reality show after reading his comments on homosexuality and sin in the latest issue of GQ magazine.
Robertson, who is a conservative Christian, said in the magazine: "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. ... 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?
"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."
The comments were criticized by pro-LGBT groups, including GLAAD, which said that the "Duck Dynasty" star "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."
When announcing Robertson's suspension in a statement, A&E Networks assured viewers that his views do not reflect those of the network, and said it has always supported and championed the LGBT community.
Robertson has since remarked on Twitter that A&E "made the wrong move by doing this but it was your choice."
The decision has angered a lot of conservative Christians who have gone to social media to express their outrage, and called for a boycott on A&E programming until it lifts Robertson's suspension.
Moore noted that the controversy didn't seem to center around his more "crude" remarks in the GQ interview, but rather in "his moral assessments of sex outside of conjugal marriage."
But Robertson's comments, the Southern Baptist pointed out, were "more or less" a recitation of the Apostle Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 6.
"As Christians, we believe that Jesus is lord over sexuality, and he says that sexuality is expressed rightly only in the marriage of a man and a woman. That's not new. We also think we're all sinners, and that God calls us all to repentance. That's not new either," he stated.
"Suggesting that people who hold to what every branch of the Christian faith has held to for 2,000 years is somehow bigoted or hateful is not productive for speech," Moore further commented in an interview on CNN's Erin Burnett "OutFront," which aired on Wednesday.
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission president, who is admittedly not a fan of reality television, noted that people are free to not watch "Duck Dynasty" if they don't agree with the views of its stars or some of the content on the show, but that doesn't mean that it should be censored.
"Let's have genuine diversity, meaning let's talk honestly with one another about what we believe and why. Muting one another isn't what debate is for in a free society. It's what remote controls are for," Moore concluded.