The Duck Dynasty family is firing back at A&E after Phil Robertson was put on an indefinite hiatus from the show, following his controversial remarks about homosexuals to GQ magazine.
"We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right," the family's statement reads in part. "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."
Grateful for the support they've been receiving from fans of the reality show, the family further explains Phil's comments, "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. 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."
Meanwhile, a Christian organization has started a petition drive aimed at getting A&E to reverse its decision to suspend the Duck Dynasty patriarch from filming episodes.
The group -- known as Faith Driven Consumer
-- urges people to "stand with Phil" by signing a letter addressed to A&E that accused the cable channel of engaging in "intolerant, discriminatory and punitive treatment" of Robertson.
In a statement issued Wednesday after Robertson's controversial comments in a GQ magazine article, A&E explained its decision to suspend the star. "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."
Among Robertson's remarks
in the GQ
interview were his view that homosexuality "is not logical" and he also offers his opinion that being gay can lead to other "sinful" behaviors. "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," he toldGQ
reporter Drew Magary. "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," Robertson added.
The petition -- which also calls on A&E to formally apologize to Robertson, his family and the show's millions of viewers -- says the reality star's comments "are simply reflective of a Biblical view of sexuality, marriage and family – a view that has stood the test of time for thousands of years and continues to be held by the majority of Americans and today's world as a whole."
The letter reads: "While the LGBT community may be offended by his opposing viewpoint, your rash, discriminatory, and unfair treatment toward Mr. Robertson -- a recognized symbol of the faith community -- is a slap in the face to Faith Driven Consumers and everyday Americans alike."