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December 19th, 2013
01:49 PM ET

CNN Exclusive: Family pastor defends 'Duck Dynasty' star

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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(CNN) - While controversy swirled around Phil Robertson Wednesday evening, the "Duck Dynasty" patriarch was at his longtime church, praying for a young woman who suffers from cancer, the TV star's pastor told CNN in an exclusive interview.

"Phil led us in prayer," said Mike Kellett, senior pastor of White's Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe, Louisiana. "There were greater things on our minds than the firestorm of controversy about this article."

Asked how Robertson is taking the fierce criticism of his remarks on homosexuality, Kellett said, "He's very calm, and very confident that if he serves the Lord, God will take care of everything."

Robertson, 67, was suspended by the A&E network on Wednesday after the publication of comments in GQ magazine. Citing the Bible, the outspoken Christian called homosexuality sinful and compared it to bestiality and drunkenness.

Robertson's remarks were a rough paraphrase of the New Testament, in which Paul catalogs a list of vices, including, in many Bible translations, homosexuality. Scholars and pastors disagree, however, about whether Paul's remarks should apply to modern gay and lesbian relationships.

Gay rights groups were outraged, calling Robertson's remarks "homophobic" and "hateful." A&E said it was "disappointed" by the comments, "which are based on his own beliefs and are not reflected in the series 'Duck Dynasty.' "

But Robertson, who looks a bit like an Old Testament prophet,  says conservative Christian beliefs and values have permeated every corner of his life ever he gave up his self-described heathen lifestyle as a honky-tonk operator in the 1970s.

"I myself am a product of the '60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom Savior," Robertson said in a statement on Thursday. "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."

‘Duck Dynasty’ reactions debate: Free speech or bigotry?

Robertson is an elder at White's Ferry Road Church of Christ, a nondenominational church that gathers around 1,200 worshippers on Sunday mornings. That means he offers spiritual counsel, helps teach the faith, hosts Bible studies and offers charity to the poor, Kellett said.

"He has literally helped bring hundreds of people to the Lord," the pastor added.

Robertson's son, Alan, co-pastored White Ferry with Kellet for eight years before joining the cast of "Duck Dynasty."

The show, which A&E says drew nearly 12 million viewers to the premiere of its fourth season in August, is enormously popular among conservative Christians, many of whom defended Robertson on social media Thursday. A online petition called "I Stand With Phil," garnered nearly 10,000 signatures by midday.

Opinion: ‘Duck Dynasty’ suspension doesn’t violate First Amendment

As Robertson's fame has grown, so has the size of his pulpit. He has preached at megachurch Pastor Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in California. Publishers peddle "The Duck Commander Devotional" and churches clamor for guest appearances by the Robertson family.

“We’re kind of the John the Baptists of the 21st century," Alan Robertson has said. "It’s how you imagine, with the wild hair and the locusts."

Kellett said his church backs Robertson, whose family is nearly royalty in West Monroe, a city of 13,000 in northern Louisiana. "We support the Robertson family, and strongly believe in our Bibles and in Jesus Christ as lord."

The pastor said he agrees with Phil Robertson's comments about homosexuality and is concerned about his critics' treatment of Christianity.

"I think it's unfortunate that when you quote the Bible people get upset about one particular sin that always seems to get a lot of attention," Kellett said. "But sometimes the Bible is going to rub folks the wrong way."

Palin and Jindal weigh in

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Celebrity • Christianity • Culture wars • Discrimination • evangelicals • Faith & Health • Gay marriage • Gay rights • gender issues

soundoff (2,092 Responses)
  1. lol??

    lol??
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    So the corps like to play God. Sons of the Beast are like that. BTW, speech is now behavior?? How pwogwessive!!

    December 20, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
  2. JO423

    I stand with Phil 100%

    December 20, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      That's nice, far too many do...what are your reasons for standing with a bigoted racist ass?

      December 20, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
      • Dawn

        I stand with him as well on the fact that he is not stating anything hateful just what he believes. It is amazing that everyone else can state their beliefs and that is o.k. except for Christians. If you don't like what he had to say don't listen to him but don't try to silence him either.

        December 20, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
        • truthprevails1

          Dawn: What he stated is most definitely hateful even if it his beliefs, especially when those beliefs are based on 2000+ year old information. He is enti<btled to his belief regardless of how bigoted it may be and we are enti<btled to call him out on it. Ignorance begets ignorance.

          December 20, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
        • Third Eagle of the apocalypse.

          Dawn: Just because its something you believe doesn’t mean it isn’t hateful. Just ask the Naz!s

          December 20, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
        • Bones McCoy

          Denying equal rights to somebody isn't hateful? So if he spoke out and said that blacks shouldn't marry whites, you'd be cool with that too and not consider it hateful at all, right?

          December 20, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
  3. Oz Whipay

    What a sad circus. One should really reconsider one's actions once Sarah Palin shows up to defend you.

    December 20, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
  4. AverageJoe76

    Ya' think BRAVO will pick them up?

    December 20, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  5. Mark H.

    uh Tom Smith people who are gay or "for abortions" as you say are persecuted and even killed for that belief. Many times those against these things smash others literally rather than with words. How many doctors at women's clinics fear for their lives for performing legal operations? How many gay people are beaten and killed for just being "different." Feeling sympathy for Robertson merely enables those who would do bodily harm to those he speaks against.

    December 20, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • tom smith

      maybe the doctors need not be fearing for their own lives if they werent taking the life of an unborn child...kinda ironic huh?

      December 20, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
      • truthprevails1

        Maybe you need to understand this a little more. A) What a woman does with her body is not your business B) If an abortion is not gotten legally, there are other ways that are far more dangerous. C) Nowhere in the bible does it speak of abortion.

        December 20, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
        • tom smith

          the bible does speak of abortion "thall shalt not kill"

          December 20, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
        • truthprevails1

          No Tom, that is not what that means. You don't get to make up meanings not when your god is the biggest murderer ever.

          December 20, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          Tom
          Can you answer the question on page 13? Seems like all the anti-abortion types duck the question.

          December 20, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
      • Jeffica

        Why are you commenting on something you can never do, being you're a man? Why do people like you deny a quality life for children everywhere because you want to force births?

        December 20, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
        • Former Xtian

          It should be couple's choice, not woman's choice, unless the dad ran away or is a deadbeat who doesn't care. I hate that se_xist mentality. The baby is just as much a part of the man as it is of the woman. Just because the woman has to carry the baby, doesn't make it exclusively her decision.

          December 20, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
        • tom smith

          so what youre saying that is if you are not born into ideal conditions, it is not worth living? why not just kill yourself when you have hardships? or kill your kids if you lose your job and have a little trouble making ends meet?

          December 20, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          Tom
          People do that all over the world, they can't cope and commit suicide even our brave soldiers suffer, neither god nor congress really gives a sh!t.

          December 20, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • michael

      Sin is sin and the only sin not forgiven is denial this is when one refuses to admit that it is a sin – so the result is not confessing therefore resulting in denial of the only true way christ .
      if yoy were for ever who would you take with you those that try and obey are those thst denied you.

      December 20, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
      • Former Xtian

        That's of course assuming that the bible is anything more than an ancient myth.

        December 20, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
  6. AverageJoe76

    Why'd God make all of these gay people just to send them to h.ell?

    Did God create EVERYTHING or not? Where did that statement stop being relevant?? He created sin. He created evil. He kills men, women, and children. He created Lucifer (Grand-daddy Evil). He needs blood. Loves the smell of burning flesh. Destroys his creations, blames the creations, and never takes responsibility in the obvious pitfall of being the 'Creator'. You made it, you fix it.

    Oh.... but here's the fix (which involves more blood) – kill my son. Then, "believe in him, to get to me" That's your saving grace.

    So far, I've received no personal communication from the Lord. Instead, 2,000+ yrs ago, he entrusted this 'most important message' to a tribe in the desert. In the hopes that the entire world would know and heed that message.

    That's not God. That's man's best impression of what a God would be to them. Because to my mortal mind, I see very clear fallacies. The kind of mistakes a HUMAN would make based on limited knowledge........ ooooooooh some 2,000 + yrs ago.

    December 20, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  7. Name*Dave

    Liberals have no tolerance

    December 20, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • mcpierceaim

      Not for intolerance, no.

      December 20, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
    • Mark H.

      gee that's not stereotyping

      December 20, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  8. alaskan1st

    Phil can't pick and choose which parts of the bible to believe, Does he eat pork or shellfish? Wearing cloths of mixed fiber is a sin. These were a death sentence according to the bible.

    December 20, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
  9. tom smith

    why is it that people that are for gays or abortions are allowed to ridicule people that arent, but on the other hand, people that arent for these issues get smashed if they simply state opposite opinions?

    December 20, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • Jeffica

      State your opinion. And then get out of the way; we like our Consti.tutional rights. Bet you do, too, if yer guns are threatened.

      December 20, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
      • tom smith

        yeah cause just because i dont support gay marriage automatically makes me a hick and needing my guns...for your information, i am pro gun control

        December 20, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
  10. DB

    This is just plain pathetic, you can't have an opinion anymore. You must agree with the masses or you are wrong. Might as well go back to 1300 and live in India. I decline anymore to give my opinion when asked, what is the point you will (sooner or later) get into a disagreement with someone. It's not worth the aggravation, only on the internet can you give an honest opinion without fear of reprisals. I don't believe in gods and I don't agree with being gay, it's not what nature intended and is obvious by the fact they can't procreate without the help of current science. It's a birth defect no different than any other mental disorder that can't be cured, basically the bun wasn't cooked properly in the oven. I only go by the facts and you can't tell me being gay falls in line with nature/evolution. If everyone were gay the human population would die out, once again, if it wasn't for science. I won't try and stop you (I leave that to the god people) but I will never agree that it is normal.

    December 20, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      ORRR ................ maybe you shouldn't express h.omophobic views when working for A&E (Arts & Entertainment). Which, when you think about it, has probably got a lot of people from the LGBT community working for them. Just saying....

      December 20, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
      • lol??

        Gud ol' artsy-craftsy, a form of mind control, err witch craft. Take that ya killin' warlocks!!

        December 20, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • Former Xtian

      Spreading hate speech is harmful and divides people. You can have your opinion, but I can also tell you that your opinion is bigoted, and based on fairy tales and disassociate my company from you based on that primitive mentality.

      December 20, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
      • Third Eagle of the apocalypse.

        Exactly

        December 20, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
  11. DuckCammando

    Why get excited about what a person said from a show you don't watch? Do you enjoy debating and fighting? Then go back to watching Honey Boo-Boo.

    December 20, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • lol??

      The A&A's swarmed the belief blogs. Busy bees.

      December 20, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
      • Jeffica

        A&E is a person, remember? Well, that corporate person has spoken. Too bad for duck man.

        December 20, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
        • lol??

          a mythical person who has, ahem certain loyalties.

          December 20, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
        • Jeffica

          Yep. Just like your, ahem, God.

          December 20, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
  12. Mantid

    Can a GLAAD supporter please explain what exactly they found offensive about phil's comments??

    December 20, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      They are baseless on facts and come from a belief that doesn't pertain to everyone, that is exclusive, that is bigoted and attempts to step on equal rights.

      December 20, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      I would say, "That part, and that part, and the part next to that other offensive part" Umm.... pretty much all of it.

      December 20, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
  13. spudnik56

    Interesting how the weak minded and the limited thinking band together. The right is just pitiful...

    December 20, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
  14. Dan

    Daniel Ming · Top Commenter · Network Manager at Private Sector

    I wonder how many families that watch "Duck Dynasty" have kids who are gay. I wonder how those gay kids that love that show are feeling about themselves right now. I can only imagine how isolated those kids are feeling being told they are going to hell and how worthless they are feeling. Of course, some of those kids will internalize that message and eventually commit suicide. Most gay kids in rural areas already feel isolated, afraid and alone. This man's statements will now be used by the bully kids to beat up, pick on and destroy not only the gay kids but any kids that are perceived to be gay. I grew up in the Baptist church in Brundidge, Alabama. All I learned from that church was to hate myself, to deny who I was as a gay youth. Don't let them know my secret. Pretend to be straight. I remember praying to Jesus when I was 16 that I would die before the morning came because I did not want to be gay. I loved Jesus as my personal Lord and saviour. I didn't understand why me wanting to spend the rest of my life with another guy was such a bad thing. I remember going to see a pastor and he was so hateful to me. He kept asking me what I had done for God to turn me over to such a hideous lifestyle. I remember the liese the church taught me. "Gay relationships don't last more than two years." "Do you want to be the male or the female in the relationship?", "Gay people are child molestors!". "Eventually Daniel, you will start acting like a sissy if you keep hanging around those other gay people." I thank MY GOD that he got me through it and that he got me out of that small ass backwards townand now I live in this awesome metro area called Atlanta. I have a wonderful partner. If you are a yound gay person and are reading this, you are not alone. You can have a wonderful life. Learn to love yourself and be proud of who you are. Hang in there! If I can make it out of rural hell, anyone can!

    December 20, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • tom smith

      why is it that people that are for gays or abortions are allowed to ridicule people that arent, but on the other hand, people that arent for these issues get smashed if they simply state opposite opinions?

      December 20, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
      • truthprevails1

        Those opinions you argue for are very much yours, however, those same opinions are based mostly off of biblical crap that was written by primitive man in a time where not a lot was known about our world. Nowhere in the bible does it speak of abortion...that is simply a cause christians took up, nothing more. In fact most abortions had in the USA are had by christians and what a woman does with her body is not your business.
        LGBT we now know is as natural as being hetero.
        Intolerance of intolerance and the fight for equal rights for all regardless of who one choose to love, are good things.
        If you wouldn't want the criticism done to you, then use some common sense and don't do it to others!

        December 20, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
        • tom smith

          the bible does speak of abortions... "thou shalt not kill"
          abortion is killing an unborn child

          December 20, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
        • truthprevails1

          Ah the great pick and choose. Thankfully science and the professionals disagree with you. A woman can't be charged for aborting, thus outside of your belief, it is not legally murder.
          Please pull your head out of your bible and attempt to live in the 21st century where biblical law doesn't matter.

          December 20, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
        • Piccolo

          I didn't realize you can kill something that hasn't been born yet.

          December 20, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          Silly Tom
          Stole this question but I am not getting the mythical "Saviour" treatment anyway.
          Tom you are in a burning building, at one end is freezer that contains dozens of viable embryos waiting to be injected into a womb, at the other end is a three year old girl. You can only save one, which do you save and why?

          December 20, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          Silly Tom
          Stole this question, but I am not getting the mythical "Saviour" treatment anyway.
          Tom you are in a burning building, at one end is freezer that contains dozens of viable embryos waiting to be injected into a w0mb, at the other end is a three year old girl. You can only save one, which do you save and why?

          December 20, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          Silly Tom
          Stole this question, but I am not getting the mythical "Saviour" treatment anyway.
          Tom you are in a burning building, at one end is freezer that contains dozens of viable embry0s waiting to be injected into a w0mb, at the other end is a three year old girl. You can only save one, which do you save and why?

          December 20, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          Tom
          Stole this question, but I am not getting the mythical "Saviour" treatment anyway.
          Tom you are in a burning building, at one end is freezer that contains dozens of viable embry0s waiting to be injected into a w0mb, at the other end is a three year old girl. You can only save one, which do you save and why?

          December 20, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          Tom
          Took this question from someone else, but I am not getting the mythical "Saviour" treatment anyway.
          Tom you are in a burning building, at one end is fre ezer that contains dozens of viable embry0s waiting to be injected into a w0mb, at the other end is a three year old girl. You can only save one, which do you save and why?

          December 20, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
        • truthprevails1

          Charm: Perfect question. I just wonder if he'll actually think about it or spew the same old rhetoric.

          December 20, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          truth....
          Thanks but I can't take credit for it, I think it was first posted by bostontola. Sorry about the multiple posts, I thought the filter caught me but I was looking at the wrong page. Have yet to have seen an answer from any of our fundie friends that can't mind their own business.

          December 20, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
  15. Matt brand

    Not that I'm defending gays on this... But Paul also stated in Corinthians that men should have short hair... Just saying... He sad its disrespectful to God... Not sure why Jesus is portrayed in pictures as having long hair. Just saying what came to mind... I'm no theologian.

    December 20, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • lol??

      The artists were the Eddie Haskells of the time.

      December 20, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
      • Jeffica

        You admire Eddie Haskell? Of course. Figures.

        December 20, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
  16. love

    Did u see those 2 male birds building a nest together there going to ask da other natuel birds if thay can bie some of there babys from them so thay can b naturel parents too.

    December 20, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
  17. Julia

    Leviticus 20:13 ESV / 18 helpful votes

    If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.

    December 20, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
    • Madtown

      Ah, Leviticus. The poetic yet horrendous words of man.

      December 20, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
      • lol??

        Why didn't S&G have those manly words??

        December 20, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • Who Knows

      Just how many of your unruly children have you stoned to death? How many times have you left your household during your period to keep your family from being with an unclean woman? Come on momma, let's go toe to toe on all old testament scripture and see just how hot hell is going to be for you.

      December 20, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      Somebody said it much earlier but it merits repeating: Bigotry wrapped in scripture is still bigotry.

      You are aware that at the time those words were written man was very primitive and lacked the understanding we have today??
      We can be thankful that the crap written in that book holds no bearing over the evidence we have today. You keep spewing the bigotry and hate for other humans, you're only helping the other side and in turn helping to kill off your absurd belief.

      December 20, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • Former Xtian

      Proof of the absolute primitive mentality that people had thousands of years ago before any type of science or logic came about. You're going to base your beliefs on something written by primitive goat herders thousands of years before people were even literate? Sure, that makes sense. Just claim god wrote that and call it a day. Love the logic.

      December 20, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
      • lol??

        The so-called primitives had no science or logic?? How were they building the Tower of Babel?? You must be thinkin' of Darwin's primatives. They were quite disorderly compared to man, which ain't sayin' much.

        December 20, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
        • Piccolo

          Circular reasoning is not a valid form of logic. You cannot prove the tower of babel ever existed. It's a bedtime story for kids so they won't question god.

          December 20, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • Conrad Polska

      Of course, you pick and choose the bible verses that conform to your own beliefs and biases. Cafeteria Christian?

      December 20, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
      • lol??

        Jesus is the bread of life. He even guides Christians on their eating habits.

        December 20, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
    • alaskan1st

      Sure your not reading out of the Koran?

      December 20, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
      • lol??

        You also said this,
        alaskan1st
        Phil can't pick and choose which parts of the bible to believe, Does he eat pork or shellfish? Wearing cloths of mixed fiber is a sin. These were a death sentence according to the bible."

        I'd say just stick with enjoyin' all that oil money and forget the scripture. It can't help you.

        December 20, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • GeorgeH

      Well, let's see what else God considers an abomination, shall we?

      Deu 27:15 Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place. And all the people shall answer and say, Amen.

      Pro 6:16 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
      Pro 6:17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
      Pro 6:18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
      Pro 6:19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

      Pro 11:1 A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.

      Pro 11:20 They that are perverse in heart are an abomination to the LORD: but such as are perfect in their way are his delight.

      Pro 16:12 It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness.

      Pro 17:15 He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.
      So, why all the fuss over this one abomination, eh?

      December 20, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
      • Live4Him

        If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.

        December 20, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
  18. Who Knows

    For years members of the Church of Christ would condemn any person who called themselves a "pastor" and actually believed using the term was against what the Bible preached ... meaning they would go to hell. Members of the Church of Christ use to think that any minister of the gospel who preached or acknowledged other denominational Church's (i.e... Warrens mega church) would also be condemned and sent to hell. So I find it ironic that now they don't mind those things... or at least they don't stand as firmly on those beliefs.

    December 20, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.