11:22pm PT by THR staff
'Duck Dynasty's' Phil Robertson Tells Church Group: 'I Will Not Give or Back Off From My Path'
Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson addressed the controversy surrounding his remarks about homosexuality during his Bible study group Sunday.
The reality star granted the U.K.'s Daily Mail access to the study group at his church in West Monroe, La., during which he defending himself and stood by his comments in a recent GQ profile, which included: "It seems like, to me, a vagina -- as a man -- would be more desirable than a man's anus. 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."
In the magazine, Robertson also was 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."
On Sunday, he defended himself according to the Daily Mail, which reported that he said he was simply quoting from the Bible. He also said that Jesus could save gay people.
"I love all men and women," he said. "I am a lover of humanity, not a hater."
During his 45-minute remarks, he also defended his intelligence level.
"We are a bunch of rednecks from Louisiana, but I am not uneducated," he said. "I have a degree from Louisiana Tech. But this week I have been called an ignoramus. This week I have been asked, 'Is this the first time you have brought up sin?' I said, 'Are you kidding? I have been traveling to and fro spreading this message.' Then he said, 'Well do you invite yourself to go and get your Bible and tell people what you are now sharing with us?' I said, 'No they are inviting me.'"
He led a prayer at the end of the study group session, during which he stated: "I will not give or back off from my path because you conquered death, Father, so we are not worried about all the repercussions."
The Daily Mail reported that he was approached by a fellow churchgoer who thanked Robertson for what he said. His response: "I didn't think much of it at all, but it seems a lot of other people did."
After his Bible study group, Robertson and the rest of the study group attended a church service led by his son Alan, who referenced the controversy: "Well, we've had a quite a quiet week, shot some ducks, done some shopping, ignited a national controversy."
On Wednesday, A&E placed Robertson on indefinite suspension after the comments were published online.
"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.
The Robertson family on Thursday released its own statement in response to the controversy.
"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."
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.