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. sdgman

    The reaction to his remarks was certainly overkill.. but his comments on race were completely overshadowed by people defending his bigotry against gay people.

    December 20, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
  2. roland

    You risk your life and that of your families by claiming God is not real.
    if you deny God he will deny you. Are you so busy in your life that you cannot find any time to search for the real God?
    For your own behalf or that of your families?

    December 20, 2013 at 9:32 pm |
    • Ted

      Why should we ever have to search for, or worship, your "god", a being who is (purportedly) omnipotent and (purportedly) can change things on a whim to suit himself?

      I think your religious beliefs are stupid. It's that simple.

      December 20, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
      • memoriesandlife

        The answer is simpe you don't. That is the basis of freedom of religion. You can worship or not however you please. But you can't infringe on others right o worship any God oe deity.

        December 21, 2013 at 1:35 am |
    • rational63

      I've denied the existence your god all 50 years of my life and appear to be doing quite well! Thanks!

      December 20, 2013 at 11:33 pm |
      • Dr. Mark Lynch

        My friend you may be doing fine in this life now and until you actually die and leave this world but the reality is that one day "every knee will bow to Christ and every tongue will confess to God that He is Lord" and when you have to face Him at the Great White Throne Judgment Seat you will believe then and be cast into the lake of fire for your disbelief to suffer for all eternity. The Bible is very clear " the fool hath said in his heart that there is no God" but one day every person on this planet from all ages and generations will bow to an awesome God.

        December 20, 2013 at 11:45 pm |
        • Small Medium at Large

          Dr. Mark Lynch,

          Did you actually type that with a straight face?

          December 20, 2013 at 11:50 pm |
        • Dr. Mark Lynch

          You better believe it! All I do is share the truth with people, they may chose to ignore it or not believe it but it remains "truth" nonetheless. Opinions change, and people change but God stays the same and never changes, He is the same yesterday, today and forever." His truth never changes, it is settled in Heaven and will never change.

          December 21, 2013 at 1:03 am |
        • atroy

          I heard that same joke in church years ago. It doesn't get any less hilarious.

          December 20, 2013 at 11:58 pm |
        • Dr. Mark Lynch

          Keep on laughing my friend! You will be laughing all the way into hell and spend eternity separated from God's love and mercy, suffering in pain and agony in the flames of that awful place for all eternity!

          December 21, 2013 at 12:58 am |
        • Saraswati

          If a god is really committed to having believers, he or she will provide a heck of a lot more evidence than the Christian god. If there are gods out there the belief status of little humans doesn't appear to be very important.

          December 21, 2013 at 12:08 am |
        • Dr. Mark Lynch

          Scripture is clear on that issue also. It states "the heavens (sun, moon, stars. planets in perfect alignment and so forth) declare the glory of God so man is without excuse for not believing in Him. For He has made himself known to man through the heavenly things He has created."

          December 21, 2013 at 12:53 am |
  3. Lexiepink

    Anyone that thinks God tolerates sin has obviously not read the Bible and does not know The Lord.

    December 20, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
    • Y

      No one knows your lord because he doesn't exist.

      December 20, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
    • JJ

      No, your god gleefully roasts all who do not believe in him. He rejoices in the screams of those he torments in the eternal flames of hell. Glory!

      December 20, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
    • Chismonaut

      Well said Lexiepink. The angry replies to your comments just prove God is real. They don't believe that God exists as if their nonbelief would make God disappear.

      December 20, 2013 at 10:02 pm |
      • Ted

        Your claims of anger are pretty much ad hominem. Maybe you should instead look at what is actually being said. There are some very sincere criticisms of your religion coming out here.

        December 20, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
  4. LB

    Who really cares? This is a media manufactured phony controversy designed to boost flagging ratings and foment hatred. Dork Dynasty is a 100% completely scripted so called reality show. Folks who believe this so called reality show is real need to have their heads examined by a competent psychiatrist, not one that graduated from Liberty University or appears regularly on Fox "News".

    December 20, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • Y

      What, next you'll be telling me that the World Wrestling Federation bouts are staged. I'm shattered.

      December 20, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
      • LB

        Me, too. It's all a sham. This miscreant, his so called "pastor", and everyone else involved in this baloney are involved in yet another media generated scam. Sorry to pop your bubble, all you fans of Dork Dynasty – the whole program and what's going on now is totally scripted by the media and definitely not real. You've all been suckered in. Just like P.T. Barnum said, "there's a sucker born every minute."

        December 20, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
  5. Jo

    The more the 'haters' talk the more tolerance they bring out in others !! Let them talk !

    December 20, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • Ted

      Jo, maybe you could present some examples of the "hate" that you are claiming is there. Maybe you just can't take the criticism.

      December 20, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
  6. Good advice for both sides

    Whatever side you are on, protest this by turning off your TV and vowing no more reality television.

    December 20, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • lol??

      Don't forget to remember HB,

      "You're beginning to believe the illusions we're spinning here, you're beginning to believe that the tube is reality and your own lives are unreal. You do. Why, whatever the tube tells you: you dress like the tube, you eat like the tube, you raise your children like the tube, you even think like the tube. This is mass madness, you maniacs. In God's name, you people are the real thing, WE are the illusion. "

      That's when the Beast was not in the hole so far, so to speak. FIRE in the hole!!

      December 20, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
      • Lol?? Is A Loon

        What? You make no sense. Get your head out of your ass.

        December 20, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
      • Austin

        lol:.it goes deep. you right.

        1 trillion for the war in the mid east.
        $5 bible x7 billion = 35 bil, plus 7 bil per person for delivery 42 bil.

        case closed. people are living a disasterous lie

        December 20, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
        • Actually

          Those wars were started by a very religious president and almost universally supported by Christians.

          December 20, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
        • Austin

          I agree with you. it's sad. what bothers me is that reading through the new testament, it is clear that the Christian base was misled, and also following a national idolatry. now it would be one thing if this was actually an ordained nation and an ordained war, but there is no such thing. so their faith has been brought into question and the question of apostacy arises.

          December 20, 2013 at 11:59 pm |
        • Austin

          ............reading through the new testament reveals that Christ shot down the idea of warring for the sake of Christianity.

          ◄ John 18:36 ►

          Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place."

          and the disciples and apostles did not war. they had no authority to kill. this would have been outside the call of the gospel. they were martyred.

          December 21, 2013 at 12:03 am |
  7. AZGurl

    God loves all. God is not intolerant. God is kind, not hateful.

    I've been a born-again Christian since the mid-70s, and bigotry is not part of God's plan.

    Robertson and his kind may say what they wish, but when they are hateful, they reap the consequences.

    December 20, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • larry

      Well said. Too many opinionated and religious people are soooo narrow minded that all they can do is spew hate....as we have also seen ....most are Republicans.

      December 20, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • Y

      God is loving but he'll burn you forever if you don't bow down to him and toe his line. No thanks. You can keep your sky jerk.

      December 20, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
    • Dr. Mark Lynch

      God is love, but we must also remember that God is a "flaming fire," and a "wrathful God." He does love all people however He does not love, nor condone sin in any shape, form or fashion. God is not tolerant of any form of sin whatsoever and "the soul that sins will die." The "wages of sin are death!" God's word is very clear "man that lieth with man and woman that lieth with woman are an abomination in His sight." That is not any man's belief or opinion it is however "TRUTH!" Jesus never condemned anyone and neither are we suppose to as God's men who preach the gospel message, however we are expected to preach and teach the TRUTH in love and win those who are living in sin unto the Lord. .

      December 20, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
  8. MickeyOregon

    It is very very bad, horrible, terrible (I am not being hyperbolic) that we all this condemnation in America. The PC dictators have the power that the Soviets and other communist powers exercised. People who did not toe the party line, who did not speak as approved were silence, were "re-educated", were publicly humiliated in "shaming" ceremonies, were "disappeared". How can we be accepting of this stifling of opinion. GLAAD et al should be ashamed. No one should support such would-be liberty hating hate groups such as them. Shame on them. Shame on us for allowing them this much power. Shame on A&E for being so neutered.

    December 20, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
    • Rita Watkins


      December 20, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
    • Petra

      First of all, this isn't a 1st Amendment issue, so dial down the hyperbole. A&E have an absolute right to employ whom they wish, and sorry if you don't like it, but your approval or disapproval is neither needed nor wanted.

      Your absurd "Communist" statement does show how very scared you are of your narrow worldview being threatened, however. Don't like it? Stay in your bubble. Nobody will talk you out of it.

      December 20, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
    • Saraswati

      You have clearly never lived in an authoritarian communist country. I have. Pick up a book and do something about your ignorance. Wow...you have no idea how insulting and ridiculous such a comparison is.

      December 20, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
  9. Austin

    The Prince of Peace has been misrepresented in America. In Him is freedom and life.

    December 20, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • Akira

      Hi, Austin.

      December 20, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
  10. rob jones

    I have been A&E fan longer than a Phil Robertson but no more will i watch A&E because of the actions they are taking .That is his opinion.

    December 20, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • Akira

      Unfortunately for Phil, A&E has theirs.

      December 20, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
  11. Rrichard

    These morons talk about critics of Christianity. I was baptized when I was an infant. I grew up in the church and I know these people who call themselves conservative Christians are neither. This guy who professes to have led a sinful life is now a righteous person, I would call him a hypocrite!

    If he speaks about Jesus being Lord, why is he quoting from the Old Testament? That's where most republican so-called Christians get it wrong. They are like the Muslims and Jews, fighting a war which they will never win. They do not quote Jesus or if they do they misquote him to justify their small lives!

    December 20, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • Jake

      Ummm... Paul was one of the authors of the New Testament.... He quoted the new testament

      December 20, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
    • lol??

      There is one baptism. What was yours??

      December 20, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • Austin

      I love you!
      the war in afghanastan and Iraq cost 1 trillion . 7 billion bibles, supernatural new covenant revelations, would total 35 billion plus if it was 1 billion per airlifted delivery per person, another 7 billion dollars.

      instead we war. dumb move.

      December 20, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
    • Austin

      I like you !

      war in Iraq and Afghanistan was 1 trillion dollars. 7 billion bibles 35 billion plus a billions per person for delivery.

      another 7 billion.

      instead we have not much change and 1 million dead. countless new angry people.

      December 20, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
  12. muhammed

    calling a pervert a pervert,what's wrong with that?

    December 20, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • Allah

      Want to give me chapter and verse where Jesus says that, troll?

      December 20, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • rational63

      Naming yourself after a "prophet" who married a 6-year-old girl and proceeding to talk about perverts! The irony!!!!

      December 21, 2013 at 12:06 am |
  13. Ralph waters

    So what exactly does a Vietnam veteran look like? Was that some low shot by this so called writer at Phil Robertson? I know many veterans who lokk nothing like him. This writer should explain the comment he looks like a cross between a Vietnam veteran and a Biblical prophet.

    December 20, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
  14. darknesscrown

    I'm sorry, does leading people in prayer make someone a good person? Since when? Doesn't change the fact that he doesn't like gay human beings. LOL Also, I might add, while he and his fellow parishoners were praying for a cure to cancer, science is actually doing something about it. Just FYI.

    December 20, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
  15. james Pfeiffer

    The hypocrisy of some Christians is boundless!

    December 20, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • Rrichard

      Jim, they really are not Christians. They call themselves Christians because they need to fit in. You see it everyday, the party of family values doesn't know the first thing about family values. Keep this quote from Jesus in mind, " many people will call themselves Christians but few will be chosen. Do you really think these people are going to a good place when they die, I think not! When the time comes and they ask for forgiveness, that will be too late!

      December 20, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
      • Answer

        They're really not christians? Oh really?

        So you can tell explicitly who is and who isn't? You must go tell the world how you have this remarkable insight.

        December 20, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
      • darknesscrown

        While you are correct that they are not Christians, because they don't support anything their book says...wandering into the world of fantasy by saying they aren't "going anywhere good when they die" is incredibly stupid. You don't go anywhere when you die. You're dead. You're making it sound like the existence of an afterlife is a certainty. It's understandable for God-believers to take solace in the notion that people who don't share their views will somehow be punished after they die, but they won't be. The only place you can possibly be punished is here...while you're alive.

        December 20, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
  16. Jason

    GLADD Facebook page: About 1,500 likes
    Phil Robertson's support page: About 1.9 MILLION likes.

    Thank you mainstream media! Looks like a similar outcome as the Chick-Fil-A controversy: Record profits and growth!

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

      1.9 million people that feel so strongly about their convictions they took the time to "like" a web page. Meanwhile, everyone else doesn't care about banning the gay lifestyle.

      December 20, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • Terry

      Facebook is for losers. Figures you're on it.

      December 20, 2013 at 5:59 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.