The Duck Dynasty cast released a statement in support of suspended star Phil Robertson, implying that they can't go forward with the show without him.
“We are in discussions with A&E to see what [this] means for the future of Duck Dynasty,” the family statement said of Phil Robertson's suspension.
“We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but, as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm.”
The family defended Robertson’s comments and stressed that they are a “family rooted in our faith in God and our belief that the Bible is His word.”
“While some of Phil’s unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible,” the family said.
“Phil is a Godly man who follows what the Bible says are the greatest commandments: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’"
"Phil would never incite or encourage hate.”
The Robertson family said it has “spent much time in prayer” since learning A&E had suspended Phil over anti-gay comments he made in GQ.
The family also criticized A&E for its actions, saying he was placed on hiatus “for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right.”
Indeed, he sparked a national debate on religion and tolerance in an interview in which the reporter asked him what he considered to be sinful behavior.
The 67-year-old Robertson, who fans of the show know is very religious, said:
“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men."
The Duck Commander found then paraphrased Paul’s letter to the Corinthians:
“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.”
Whatever you think of Robertson’s comments, they drew immediate condemnation from gay rights groups who pressured the network to take action.
On Wednesday, A&E announced Phil was suspended indefinitely, saying:
"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."
A&E’s decision to pull Robertson from the hit show drew strong support from the gay and lesbian rights groups, but criticism from many others.
Duck Dynasty drew 11.8 million viewers in August for its Season 4 premiere, making it the highest rated cable series EVER ... and fans aren't happy.
Not just because they like the show, either. They've made him a cause celebre.
Many public figures, including Glenn Beck, accuse the network of discrimination, violating Phil's religious beliefs and violating his First Amendment rights.
A&E is private company, of course, and can fire whomever its wants ... the question is whether the network will forgive, forget and deal with the backlash.
If they bring Phil back, the cast will likely resume filming, and many fans will be pleased, yet certain factions of the population will likely be upset.
If they don't, others will be upset. Clearly, A&E is up against it right here.
YOU TELL US: Should Phil Robertson have been suspended?
Should A&E pull the plug on Duck Dynasty?