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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. Nino

    Religions are and will destroy the world......! and all in the name of god.......can we just keep our imaginary friends in the closet???

    December 20, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • lol??

      Bibles in the closet
      Gays on parade
      What a culture
      The socies made.

      December 20, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
      • Will you just die??

        Still don't know the meaning if socialism, do you, you fascist moron?

        December 20, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
        • lol??

          Socies and commies had the same mommie. Fascists are always the "other guy".

          December 20, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
      • darknesscrown

        Socialism and Communism are the same thing. Haven't read anything by Marx, have you?

        December 20, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
  2. lol??

    As a military vet Duck should be exempt from PC BS in regards to speech.

    December 20, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • Larry

      Being a Christian enti.tles one to act in any ass hole manner one pleased?

      December 20, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
      • Austin

        atleast he did not enter one of those.

        December 20, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
      • ss

        Ummmm yes where have you been.

        December 20, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
  3. average American

    I do not agree with what he said but I think the media attention is outrageous. Who cares what he thinks or what the right thinking people think. They have enough money and attention.

    December 20, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
  4. Rob Petry

    Number one he can hold a religious belief without being outcast over it this is Freedom of Religion and why americas was started. Number two you dont discuss religion and politics he knows better. Three in hollywood and on the set of Duck Dynaty there are many gay people and probably the boss's are gay why put them in this position Phil you bit the hand that fed you. Four A&E
    will have to do whatever the family wants to keep them cause they aint gonna make it with storage wars.

    December 20, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • Rob PETRIE

      Bull. A&E have a right to employ who they want. Being a Christian doesn't exempt one from contractual misbehavior.

      December 20, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
      • lol??

        Contracts made with a gun to yer head might as well be waterboarding.

        December 20, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
        • Rob PETRIE

          Were you waterboarded at birth? That would explain your retardation with the nonsense of your comment and your inability to comprehend what "contractual obligations" means.

          December 20, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
      • Ralph waters

        I agree they have a right to employ who they want. Now going further then, Catholic businesses should have a right to provide health insurance that does not violate a Catholic belief because they would not agree with employees who want the coverage for what they call immoral behaviors. Gence, they could just fire them if they use the benefit.

        December 20, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
  5. RobertAllen

    How many of you, on either side of this brouhaha, would have posted your biased opinion had you not heard or read about Phil's statements on news media? If this had just appeared in GQ would you even know about it, or care?

    December 20, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
    • Jake from State Farm

      What the heck was he doing in an interview with GQ, anyway? Not exactly a Christian publication.

      December 20, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
  6. JackMehoff

    Eating bacon is also not allowed in the bible. Why do they take the anti-gay verse literally but not the anti-pork one? Stop trying to selectively apply your archaic traditions written by folks that were barely literate to this modern day technological society.

    December 20, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
  7. Joy to the world!!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=MpgaWm2pnNs

    December 20, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
  8. Who Knows what?

    Contact this Minister by email and ask him the Church's stance on instrumental music during worship. Just use his first initial along with his last name at wfrchurch dot org and ask. See if you get a reply... should also ask him if their stance has changed in the last 20 years. This is a church that talks about standing on Biblical beliefs that never change. I know for a fact that 20 years ago Phil would have be "excommunicated" for speaking at a denominational church.. but again.. times change and they changed the rules.

    December 20, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
    • lol??

      Is their church Inc'd and owes its allegiance to its creator?? The my church that Jesus talks about doesn't bow down to man and I'm not talkin' about the original gubmint church, either.

      December 20, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
      • ParmaJeff

        Listen, GOTP drone, you and your ilk are dying out. Thank GOD!

        December 20, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
  9. RB

    From a Christian perspective all humans are sinners. If a sinner has been saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, they gain forgiveness and a new t.itle, saint. These saints are still capable of sin the same as any human, it just simply means that they are forgiven. An unsaved sinner is lost.
    Phil was asked what he thought was sinful, he responded. You will notice there wasn’t a lot of controversy about him naming adultery as sinful. He didn’t express any ill will toward sinners, he just stated what he thought was sinful. Christians are called to love their neighbors as themselves. He was expressing his love for sinners by letting them know the danger they are in.
    Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. A sinner won’t accept they are one until the Holy Spirit begins to convict their heart. So, when anyone hears someone calling for them to repent and turn to the Lord, they are doing it out of concern for you. They are loving their neighbor.
    Merry Christmas!
    Happy New Year!

    December 20, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • lol??

      Socies say everybody is swell, so why do they slaughter their young?? Scripture makes it plain that dirtbag dustballs is more like it.

      December 20, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
      • Lol?? Is an idiot liar

        Hey, fool, over 800,000 abortions are performed on CHRISTIAN women yearly. Why do you want to kill all your babies, lol??

        December 20, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
        • lol??

          Sure, thooooooooooose numbers are trustworthy numbers, most likely from a son of the Beast corp.

          December 20, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
        • ParmaJeff

          Who else is going to keep the stats, you stupid hick? Your dentist? God, are you ignorant.

          December 20, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
      • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

        Yeah, God orders the killing of other peoples infants...not your own. You tell em lol??

        lol = Lack of logic

        December 20, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
        • lol??

          Not to worry. They'll get unbreakable bodies in the resurrection, too.

          December 20, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
        • Terry

          Too bad you won't know, having been consigned to Hell for your judgmental comments, lol??.

          December 20, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • John

      RB- You are dead on. We pray for the sinner. We don't have to agree with the sinners lifestyle. We can point out the error of their ways and pray for them.

      December 20, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
  10. Live4Him

    How about them hypocrites! A&E is willing to profit off a Christian family, but they abhor that Christian family speaking out on those Christian values! A&E are bigoted hypocrites!

    December 20, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • ogre12

      i now boycott A&E except to watch Duck Dynasty from now on I will flip the channel to another when their program is finished. They should move their show to another network.

      December 20, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
      • truthprevails1

        Does hating someone because they're different than you feel good? Bigotry wrapped in scripture is bigotry. Time to grow up and live in the 21st century and stop using your belief to deny equal rights. Kudos to A&E for standing for LGBT!

        December 20, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Works the other way too. The Robertsons gladly profited from the opportunity A&E gave them. By the way, did you support the corporate rights of Chick-Fil-A to stand for what they wanted ?

      December 20, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
      • Live4Him

        Yes, I did. Because it happens to be what I agree with.

        December 20, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • Larry

      Nope, and you acting like a hyena isn't going to change the fact that he didn't follow the behavior clause of his contract is going to change that, bigot.

      December 20, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
      • lol??

        Heard about the born again clause??

        December 20, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
        • Larry

          Dies being born again make you forget how to read your employment contract??

          December 20, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
  11. Reality # 2

    To all the watchers of "Duck Dung":

    The Apostles' Creed 2013: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen
    (references used are available upon request)

    December 20, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • ogre12

      you dont have a clue...but you will someday hopefully before it is too late.

      December 20, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
      • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

        Watch out...proxy threat!

        December 20, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
      • Reality # 2

        (from Professor Crossan's book, "Who is Jesus" co-authored with Richard Watts)

        "Moreover, an atonement theology that says God sacrifices his own son in place of humans who needed to be punished for their sins might make some Christians love Jesus, but it is an obscene picture of God. It is almost heavenly child abuse, and may infect our imagination at more earthly levels as well. I do not want to express my faith through a theology that pictures God demanding blood sacrifices in order to be reconciled to us."

        "Traditionally, Christians have said, 'See how Christ's passion was foretold by the prophets." Actually, it was the other way around. The Hebrew prophets did not predict the events of Jesus' last week; rather, many of those Christian stories were created to fit the ancient prophecies in order to show that Jesus, despite his execution, was still and always held in the hands of God."

        "In terms of divine consistency, I do not think that anyone, anywhere, at any time, including Jesus, brings dead people back to life."

        December 20, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
  12. robCM

    Live with what you say, but you are wrong.

    December 20, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
  13. Timothy Sullivan Clark

    Open letter to Phil Robertson,
    Greeting's Phil,
    First I want to personally thank you for opening my eyes to what was missing in my life. I came to Wet Monroe as a fan and left understanding Jesus is my friend. I listened to you at the White Ferry Road Church as you wove quotes from our founding father with the Bible and it lit a smoldering fire in my heart. For far to many years I have carried anger in me and now understand through Christ that anger has a purpose. With the words of Trent and yourself I have discovered something missing in my life. Jesus Christ. I know you are only a mortal man but realize it is mortal men like yourself that lifts others to greater heights. I do not claim to be perfect but with your words and deeds I know there is a possibility that I can be a better human being. I know you will continue your sharing with us why faith is so important. I just wanted you to know, I love you! I love your family and pray God protects you all each and every day
    God Bless You
    Timothy Sullivan Clark

    December 20, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • Live4Him

      AMEN!

      December 20, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • Former Xtian

      So by him speaking out against gays, it taught you all that?

      December 20, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
      • lol??

        No point in letting gays into the church and eatin' at the family reunion.

        December 20, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
  14. Askmehow

    Notice his wife looks like him. she just needs a beard.

    December 20, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • ogre12

      you're a regular comodian meaning you are not funny in the least you 1d10t.

      December 20, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
      • JackMehoff

        So he's a dude that tells jokes to people in the adjacent toilet stall?

        December 20, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
  15. mpetelli

    I am not an atheist, but I respect an atheists right to not believe in God. I am not Gay but I respect the right of inividuals to choose who they love (choosing who you love is a choice, being gay is who you are). I am a Christian and hold to my belief in the Bible. That is my belief. It shapes how I view things. I understand that people are going to disagree with me on some subjects but I hope that they would respect that it is my view. I am not an extremist. I believe that God taught to Love one another. I believe he taught us that we should have compassion on one another. I believe that we can be forgiven of sins whatever they might be and as a Christian I believe that God is the only one that can judge. While I don't share the beliefs of Phil it makes me sad that we live in a country that is becoming more censored. It seems like you can't express a feeling anymore with out someone being offended or hurt. I have been hurt my comments and actions of others but have never gone out of my way to make sure that person suffers for what they have done. I don't understand how people who demand tolerance and equality are so quick not not hand it out when someone disagrees with them. If Phil had never had this show and had made the comments he made most people would have looked the other way but because his is a celebrity people are making a big deal of it. What's sad is how pathetic everyone in the situation looks, Phil, A&E and members of society who feel it is their responsibility to chastize. So I guess the people critizing how Phild views things are just as bad as he is.

    December 20, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • Third Eagle of the apocalypse.

      This isn’t about a difference of opinion. This is about racist and hom0phobic speech. I’m going to exaggerate a little here but would you say that Adolf’s views were his opinion and he had a right to them?

      December 20, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
      • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

        Yes he had a right to his opinion....acting on them through is another matter....

        A persons right to swing his arm ends at your nose.

        December 20, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
        • Third Eagle of the apocalypse.

          You seem to have missed the point but I agree with your second statment.

          December 20, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          I must have because I equate having an opinion, even a bigoted hateful one, to "swinging your arm".

          you asked " would you say that Adolf’s views were his opinion and he had a right to them?"

          I think everyone has a right their opinion. I think his views were wrong and they were aweful...but it was his actions that were the real problem. If you are taking the position that people don't have a right to hold certain opinions I am wondering how you propose to control that?

          December 20, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      I am an atheist but I agree with most of what you posted (except for the god stuff of course).

      Tolerance does not mean we can't voice disagreement though. Duck guy has every right to his opinion and sharing it. A & E has every right to fire anyone in their employ, though I do think their motivations have nothing to do with the contoversy.

      There is nothing wrong with being critical of someones "views" ...religious or otherwise. I have no problem with people holding a religious conviction I disagree with, though I reserve the right to voice disagreement when confronted with them. I do have a problem when someone who holds religious views want the gov't to deny equal rights based on those views. And I I think Phil is a nut...but he has every right to be.

      December 20, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
  16. DJ Farkus

    It's not that non-Christians are "rubbed the wrong way" when someone cites this or that particular biblical passage or such. But many people understand that other parts of the bible are conveniently ignored while others are trumped up to be terrible mortal transgressions.

    Pretty sure Christ never once said "Its now OK to eat bacon".

    People get angry when high-n-mighty zealots like to quote some particular scripture as immutable law, while flat-out ignoring other biblical rules that don't conveniently allow the high-n-mighty to simultaneously retain their modern western lifestyles and their exaggerated level of self-righteousness.

    Eye of a needle, Phil. Try remembering THAT scripture when you count your lucre.

    December 20, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
  17. alaskan1st

    Phil. Just for your information.......Jesus was black. Saint Nicholas was black. And if it wasn't for evolution, you would be black.

    December 20, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • Bones McCoy

      I love seeing the looks on racist people's faces when you tell them their ancestors were black. Some people are just so ignorant. Jesus never taught hate, he never condoned persecuting people for petty differences. When you speak out against gay people, you are going against Jesus. I just wish more Christians were actually familiar with his teachings so they wouldn't always look like such intolerant imbeciles.

      December 20, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
      • rational63

        “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest part or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.” (Matthew 5:17) This is your Jesus upholding the laws of the Old Testament!

        December 21, 2013 at 12:01 am |
  18. M Ogle

    We are born knowing right from wrong...
    I support the Robertson family.
    This is a cash cow for the talking heads and media.
    I will add A & E to the Cooking Network by deleting their channel to my television. The only way to get attention is to delete.

    December 20, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • alaskan1st

      They won't miss you.

      December 20, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      You're crazy if you think we are born knowing right from wrong...those things are taught largely.
      It is pathetic to see another support bigotry and denial of equal rights...just keep it up, the only ones you hurt in the long run are yourselves

      December 20, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
  19. lol??

    Piccolo sayz,
    "I didn't realize you can kill something that hasn't been born yet."

    I suggest you look up the context where Jesus said, "Let the dead bury the dead."

    December 20, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Piccolo

      The definition of kill is to end a life. Life begins at birth, so again, how do you kill something that is technically not yet alive? There's a reason people have a birthday and not a conception day.

      December 20, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • ParmaJeff

      Lol, you can't give birth. You have no say in what a woman can do with her body. You can complain, you can moan, but you're unqualified.

      And Jesus, and the Bible, said not ONE word about abortion. Focus, dear.

      December 20, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
      • Bones McCoy

        Why do you feel that a man has no say, when he is absolutely necessary in the creation of the baby? Half of that child came from his DNA. Obviously r_ape cases and other dead beat dad situations are different, but it should always be the couple's choice, not just the woman's. The baby is part of the man, too.

        December 20, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
        • ParmaJeff

          Because fir the most part, the father is absent from the equation the second he finds out he knocked someone up. Get real. The ones complaining the most are the people who would PROBABLY do the right thing, but actually have no skin in the game when trying to quash other people's rights. It's not ultimately up to you.

          How I long for the day when men can give birth via implantation...bet your whole outlook would change in a New York second.

          December 20, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
  20. lol??

    lol??
    When God speaks you now have existence.

    December 20, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    bostontola
    So speech IS behavior.

    December 20, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    lol??
    Yes. if you have the power to back it up. Plenty of copycat pretender usurpers around.

    December 20, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • Jeffica

      You'll be warm very soon.

      December 20, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • jvisbell

      Speech is behavior – it is the issue of the essence of the one speaking. Your speaking is part of your doing and the speaking is the result of the human activity; therefore speech is behavior

      December 20, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
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About this blog

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.