A&E has indefinitely suspended “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson after anti-gay comments he made in the January 2014 issue of GQ magazine.
Robertson, outspoken about his Christian faith, equated homosexuality with bestiality and called the lifestyle a sin.
“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’,” A&E said in a statement on Wednesday.
“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.”
The Hollywood Reporter said that Robertson will likely appear in the new season, which begins Jan. 15, since production is nearly finished.
The details of the GQ interview created a firestorm on Wednesday. The gay and lesbian rights group GLAAD slammed Robertson’s comments and asked A&E and the show’s sponsors to “re-examine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families.”
Discussing repentance and God in the GQ interview, Robertson talked about what he considers sinful.
“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there,” he said. “Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men ... they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. It’s not right.”
He paraphrased Corinthians with this: “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.”
But, he added: “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?”
After the words kicked up a backlash, Robertson issued a statement on Wednesday that seemed to soften his observations.
“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,” he said in the statement, released by A&E.
“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.”
But the damage had already been done, with groups like the Human Rights Campaign joining GLAAD in protesting Robertson’s remarks.
“Phil Robertson’s remarks are not consistent with the values of our faith communities or the scientific findings of leading medical organizations,”
Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin said in a statement.
“We know that being gay is not a choice someone makes, and that to suggest otherwise can be incredibly harmful. We also know that Americans of faith follow the Golden Rule — treating others with the respect and dignity you’d wish to be treated with.
“As a role model on a show that attracts millions of viewers, Phil Robertson has a responsibility to set a positive example for young Americans — not shame and ridicule them because of who they are.”
How long A&E will keep its star on ice is unclear. Robertson has said that he knows his family’s fame is fleeting, suggesting that the show may have only three or four more seasons to go.
In the same interview with GQ, the 67-year-old Duck Commander founder said: “We’re Bible-thumpers who just happened to end up on television.”