7:29pm PT by THR staff
'Duck Dynasty' Family: 'We Cannot Imagine the Show' Without Phil Robertson
The Duck Dynasty stars have issued a statement amid the controversy surrounding family patriarch Phil Robertson's anti-gay remarks. The Robertson clan says they "cannot imagine" the show without him, and that they are "in discussions" with A&E about the future of the series.
"We want to thank all of you for your prayers and support. The family has spent much time in prayer since learning of A&E's decision. We want you to know that first and foremost we 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," reads a statement posted on the family's Duck Commander website. "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. We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right. 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. We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty. Again, thank you for your continued support of our family."
A&E declined comment on the Robertson family's statement.
"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. "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."
Robertson, however, will likely appear in season four of the show, which premieres Jan. 15, since production is largely wrapped.
In the magazine, the reality TV star uses lewd imagery to discuss why he doesn't understand homosexuality, which he goes on to call a sin and compare to bestiality.
"It seems like, to me, a vagina -- as a man -- would be more desirable than a man's anus," Robertson says in the January issue of GQ. "That's just me. I'm just thinking: There's more there! She's got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I'm saying? But hey, sin: It's not logical, my man. It's just not logical."
Robertson also is asked what he finds sinful. His answer: "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 on Wednesday released his own statement in response to the controversy: "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. 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."
GLAAD on Wednesday condemned Robertson's remarks as "some of the vilest and most extreme statements uttered against LGBT people in a mainstream publication" and later commended A&E for swiftly suspending him.
"By taking quick action and removing Robertson from future filming, A&E has sent a strong message that discrimination is neither a Christian nor an American value," GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz said.
The Human Rights Campaign and PETA also are among the other organizations that have slammed Robertson.