A&E announced Wednesday what it called a "hiatus" for Robertson, 67, after he disparaged gays in the January edition of GQ magazine. He also said that, growing up in Louisiana before the Civil Rights movement, he never saw mistreatment of blacks.
|Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson|
In a statement, A&E said it was extremely disappointed to see Robertson's anti-gay remarks, which it said were based on his personal beliefs and do not reflect those of A&E Networks or the show. A&E called itself a supporter of the lesbian and gay community.
The channel's move was lauded by the gay and lesbian media advocacy group GLAAD, which had quickly condemned Robertson's comments.
"What's clear is that such hateful anti-gay comments are unacceptable to fans, viewers, and networks alike," said GLAAD spokesman Wilson Cruz. Robertson's removal "has sent a strong message that discrimination is neither a Christian nor an American value."
Robertson and his extended family became wealthy manufacturing duck calls and were turned into TV and pop culture stars by Duck Dynasty, which has set cable ratings records for a non-fiction series. Several family members appeared in this year's Macy's Thanksgiving parade.
In his GQ interview, Robertson was asked his definition of sinful behaviour. "Start with homosexual behaviour and just morph out from there," such as bestiality, he said.
GQ said he then paraphrases a biblical reference: "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 and his family had no comment on his hiatus, A&E said on their behalf. He may be in some previously taped scenes when the show returns Jan. 15 for its fifth season, a network spokesman said.
Robertson did respond to initial criticism of his GQ remarks.
"I myself am a product of the '60s" who indulged in sex and drugs until hitting bottom and accepting Jesus as his saviour, he said in a statement. Although his mission is to teach people that men and women are meant to be together, Robertson said he "would never treat anyone with disrespect" because they are different.
This is an example of what I wrote above. He is not fully aware of what might be mistreatment or discrimination. In my humble opinion, what he said was true and the Scriptures he paraphrased were accurate enough, but the way he said it was certainly offensive, although I don't know if there is any way of saying it that is not offensive.
The LGBT community and its supporters would like to have the many Scriptures condemning homosexuality removed from the Bible or, they would probably prefer to have the Bible outlawed as hate literature.
That poses a dilemma for Christians who believe the Bible is the written word of God. We can say nothing and allow gay people to meet the fate God has promised them, or we can tell them what God said. Which is more loving - to allow someone to spend eternity in Hell, or giving them a chance to spend eternity in a new Heaven and earth by offending them?
While we Christians often articulate things very poorly and often fail to manifest the character of Jesus, especially in dealing with gays, I submit that the more loving thing to do is to tell gays of the consequences they will meet when they stand before Christ, rather than being silent for fear of offending them.
In the interview, he also said that in his Louisiana youth he picked cotton with African-Americans and never saw "the mistreatment of any black person. Not once."
"We're going across the field.... They're singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, 'I tell you what: These doggone white people' — not a word!" Robertson told the magazine.
A&E said it had received no complaints about those remarks.