- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 19, 2013

Calling his remarks about gays troubling, network A&E head honchos suspended Phil Robertson from his starring role in the much-watched, Christian-based reality television series, Duck Dynasty.

Meanwhile, Mr. Robertson’s supporters rallied quickly and, by Thursday morning, had launched a concerted social media effort to reinstate the reality star, CNN reported.

Mr. Robertson said in a January issue of GQ magazine that homosexuality is a sin — same as bestiality and promiscuity. He also went on to cite biblical principles when he said: “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.”

His statements reverberated around the nation, sparking the ire of the gay community especially. A&E, in response, suspended Mr. Robertson and issued a statement, reported by CNN: “We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty. 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.”

Mr. Robertson — along with the other members of the Duck Dynasty family — have never hid or disguised their Christian faiths, ending every episode with a group prayer than includes mention of Jesus.

His suspension came on the heels of a joint letter from the NAACP and Human Rights Campaign to the president of A&E, expressing “outrage and deep concern about the recent racist, homophobic and ill-informed remarks made by Phil Robertson.”

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But Mr. Robertson’s supporters have already rallied in his defense and created a petition — which nearly 20,000 have already signed — demanding his reinstatement to the show, CNN reported.

The Change.org petition stated: “Homosexuals have their convictions and Christians respect them. There is a difference between respecting someone’s rights to exercise free will and imposing on others what we believe. Phil has done nothing more than state what he believes in. Just because homosexuals do not agree does not mean Mr. Robertson needs to be suspended.”

Meanwhile, a Facebook page called “Bring Back Phil Robertson” has already received more than 35,000 “likes,” CNN reported.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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