Duck season may soon be over for A&E.
The Robertson family released a statement late Thursday that raises doubts about the future of one of the most popular shows on cable television.
“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 Robertson family said in a prepared statement. “We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty.”
The family said it has “spent much time in prayer” since learning A&E had suspended Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the Louisiana family, over comments he made about homosexuality.
Robertson sparked a national debate on religion and tolerance in an interview with GQ magazine. The writer asked him what he considered to be sinful behavior.
“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,” Robertson said.
Then he 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.”
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 family also criticized A&E for its actions, saying he was placed on hiatus “for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right.”
Robertson’s comments drew immediate condemnation from gay rights groups who pressured the network to take action. On Wednesday, A&E announced Robertson was being removed from the show indefinitely.
"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," the network said in a statement.
"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."