Dec. 30, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The show will go on. In a statement released Friday, A&E announced that they have lifted their short-lived and wildly unpopular suspension of Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson, which was prompted by an interview Robertson gave to GQ Magazine in which he had criticized homosexuality.
“After discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups, A&E has decided to resume filming 'Duck Dynasty' later this spring with the entire Robertson family,” the release stated.
However, A&E didn’t back off entirely, explaining that the network had expressed their “disappointment” with Robertson’s comments, adding that they “reacted so quickly and strongly” to the GQ interview because of the network’s “core values” of “creativity, inclusion and mutual respect.” The network said it would use the flap as an opportunity to launch a PSA ” promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people.”
The statement also pointed out that Robertson himself had expressed regret for stating his opinions using “coarse language.”
The GQ interview and the suspension sparked a national furor, with a petition in support of Robertson gathering over 260,000 supporters, while one Facebook page calling for a boycott of A&E until he was reinstated earned over 1.7 million followers. Another page in support of Robertson earned over 1.5 million followers.
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In a statement, the Robertson family welcomed Phil’s reinstatement, and said they are “excited to keep making a quality TV show.”
“We will continue to represent our faith and values in the most positive way through 'Duck Dynasty' and our many projects that we are currently working on,” they said. “The outpouring of support and prayer has encouraged and emboldened us greatly.”
The family had initially issued a statement of solidarity with Phil, saying “we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm,” and saying that they were in “discussions” with A&E “to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty.” This was widely interpreted as a threat by the family to sever its relationship with A&E.
The creators of the istandwithphil petition also welcomed the reinstatement, but questioned whether A&E had really listened to the concerns of their supporters.
“Despite our celebration, we remain uncertain of A&E's true intent. Today, in the network’s statement of their core values – centered on ‘creativity, inclusion, and mutual respect’ – Faith Driven Consumers are left wondering whether A&E considers us to be a part of America's rich rainbow of diversity,” said Chris Stone, founder of Faith Driven Consumer. “Do they also now embrace the biblically based values and worldview held by the Robertson family and millions of Faith Driven Consumers?”
Meanwhile, gay activist groups are furious at A&E’s swift about-face.
“Phil Robertson should look African American and gay people in the eyes and hear about the hurtful impact of praising Jim Crow laws and comparing gay people to terrorists,” said the leading homosexual organization GLAAD in a statement. “If dialogue with Phil is not part of next steps then A+E has chosen profits over African American and gay people — especially its employees and viewers.”
Duck Dynasty is famous for its cast members' willingness to unapologetically promote their Christian faith and values, with each show ending with a scene of the family gathering around the dinner table and praying together. It is the most popular show on television, having set numerous ratings records.
A&E’s complete statement reinstating Phil Robertson:
As a global media content company, A+E Networks' core values are centered around creativity, inclusion and mutual respect. We believe it is a privilege for our brands to be invited into people's homes, and we operate with a strong sense of integrity and deep commitment to these principles.
That is why we reacted so quickly and strongly to a recent interview with Phil Robertson. While Phil's comments made in the interview reflect his personal views based on his own beliefs and his own personal journey, he and his family have publicly stated they regret the “coarse language” he used and the misinterpretation of his core beliefs based only on the article. He also made it clear he would “never incite or encourage hate.” We at A+E Networks expressed our disappointment with his statements in the article and reiterate that they are not views we hold.
But Duck Dynasty is not a show about one man's views. It resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family … a family that America has come to love. As you might have seen in many episodes, they come together to reflect and pray for unity, tolerance and forgiveness. These are three values that we at A+E Networks also feel strongly about.
So after discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups, A&E has decided to resume filming Duck Dynasty later this spring with the entire Robertson family.
We will also use this moment to launch a national public service campaign (PSA) promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people, a message that supports our core values as a company and the values found in Duck Dynasty. These PSAs will air across our entire portfolio.