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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. Doc Vestibule

    When Don Imus referred to the Rutgers University women's basketball team players as "na.ppy headed h.os" and then his producer referred to them as "ji.gab.oos", were they being racist?
    If Imus used the Bible to back up his statement (in the way that Southern Baptists used scripture to justify their racism), would the statement have been more acceptable?

    December 19, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
    • Apex BIped

      UHG...Why are X-tians allowed to voice ANY opinion. The X-tian's time has come and gone, they need to fade out of society, back into the realm of ignorance and "fairy" tales. They breed hate, love hate, manipulate their followers and allow persons of this caliber to stand up on a stage for children to hear and spread their hate filled lies and bigotry.
      The second amendment should not protect religion, it is the AIDS of humanity, in all it's Cults!

      December 19, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
      • Rett

        Christians should not be allowed to voice their opinions? I believe Lil' Kim in Pyongyang has an opening in his inner circle you might be interested in.

        December 22, 2013 at 6:51 am |
    • omeany

      I'm always amazed by the effort people put into defending their distasteful actions by reading passages from the bible. I wish they would put more effort into the many, many biblical references loving their fellow man and taking care of the poor. If this were done, we'd have a lot less hate and a lot more tolerance for each other.

      December 19, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
  2. Patti

    Everyone has the right to free speech... as well the consequences that come with it.

    December 19, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • John

      The whole point of rights is that there AREN'T any consequences. For example: voting without being blown up by terrorists or tortured for voting the "wrong" way. It seems that Mr. Robertson got punished for speaking the "wrong" way.

      December 19, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
      • tweety bird

        So why not leave Obama alone and let be President until his term is up? The people spoke so get over it.

        December 19, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
      • Chris

        That is not the point, but thanks for rewriting the statement. All rights have some limits, even the founding fathers admited that.

        December 19, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
      • HotAirAce

        So, anyone is allowed to say anything about anyone without consequences? I can repeatedly accuse you of the most vile things, making sure that your family, friends, employer, clergy, etc. hear my charges, and you have no right of recourse?

        December 19, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
      • G to the T

        "The whole point of rights is that there AREN'T any consequences" If that's your belief, you have a very odd view of what "rights" entail. Rights are always limited and always involve responsibilities for BOTH sides of the equation (gov and citezen). I cannot think of a single right that is not delimited for the sake of civility.

        December 20, 2013 at 7:50 am |
    • tweety bird

      Amen Patti, Amen.

      December 19, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
  3. Freedom of speech

    Phil Roberson, you stay true to The Lord..I am proud of your stand of the teachings in the Bible but many people don't want to hear the truth of God's teachings. Freedom of speech should be just that FREEDOM to speak one's own beliefs without having to bow to "political correctness". Read the Bible and see what God says about this sin..yes it is a sin. Now it's not the only sin as the Bible says for ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God so before you throw stones at anyone, look in the mirror at your own sin. Hate the sin, love the sinner that's what God teaches. For any none believers out there, well don't try to push your outrage and anger upon others because you are unhappy about what Mr. Robertson said.To suspend Phil Robertson from a t.v. Show about him and his family for stating his beliefs reminds me of articles about people from socialist countries being punished for speaking out regarding their beliefs. Has it come to that fact that you can bash Christians and their beliefs here in America but any other group or agenda gets a free ride regarding anything they say or do? What Phil Robertson said was his own beliefs not A&E's and he made that clear. Just as Daniel, in the Bible, stayed true to his God and was thrown in a Lions den and came out unscathed and others were thrown in and eaten by the lions, Phil will come out of this "lions den" of criticism you just watch and see!!

    Anyways, I hope the Robertson's walk away from their contract unless Phil is allowed back on this show about him and his family. I heard that Duck Dynasty was the top rated reality t.v. Show on A&E so A&E will lose a family friendly show when the Robertson's leave their network (if A&E doesn't wake up before this occurs). Robertson's we are praying for you and we know that God will continue to bless not only Phil Robertson but his whole family as well.

    December 19, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • Madtown

      many people don't want to hear the truth of God's teachings
      ----
      I think many people would enjoy reading these teachings, I know I would. It's just that they don't appear to be contained anywhere that we can study them. The bible doesn't contain them, it contains the word of man....about what man thinks the teachings of God are.

      December 19, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
      • Freedom of speech

        The Bible was written by. God inspired people. Read it, God's law will not be changed no matter who disagrees with it.

        December 19, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
        • job

          Dude, God doesn't exist.

          December 19, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
        • G to the T

          "The Bible was written by. God inspired people" – unfounded assumption. You believe this because you already believe the bible is true, not because there's any good way to verify it.

          December 20, 2013 at 7:52 am |
    • Soulone GodKiller

      Oh how sweet defending a serial killer called god, the mass murderer of children, mothers and fathers, the old and crippled, it so nice to see so many people who are in love with the creature that murders on a planet aid e scale. Religion is an infection.

      December 20, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • Soulone GodKiller

      Oh how sweet defending a serial killer called god, the mass murderer of children, mothers and fathers, the old and crippled, it is so nice to see so many people who are in love with the creature that murders on a planet wide scale. Religion is an infection.

      December 20, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
  4. Jim S

    His comments do offend me, but that is no reason for him to be suspended. A person should be able to express his opinion in this country as long is isn't threatening or hurts someone. Though, It is my right to not view the program because I disagree with his views. I find it more honest for him to say what he believes, at least I know where he stands.

    December 19, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • TELew

      I am a gay man, and I absolutely agree with you.

      I strongly disagree with what Robertson said. But I believe he absolutely had the right to say it, especially because it was not part of the filming of the show but rather an interview with a reporter. If he wants to say this before his church, then by all means he should. If the network does not want him to say things like this, then they need to write that into the contract. Given that his conservative Christianity is integral to the show, why would any one be surprised that he holds this opinion.

      Although I disagree strongly with what Robertson said, I respect his honesty. It is a big shame that A&E has suspended him, because now he becomes a martyr, someone that anti-gay forces can rally around.

      December 19, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
  5. DPS

    . Christ told Christians that they would always be persecuted for following him. I wonder how Jesus, Peter, and Paul would be treated today? Nevermind, I know the answer, same as in their day

    December 19, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
  6. margie

    Why is it wrong that christians voice their believes, or quote the word of God, yet ok for the ones that live against the word to voice theirs? The Bible was created to clearify a christian way to live. A human can not be a christian in which goes against the word of God in whatever manner. Phil didnt write the word of God he just tries to live by the word of God. GQ mag. asked the ?'s- he answered them in how he feels to be theCORRECT CHRISTIAN way. God is not conscerned with "political correctness" only man is. I am sure that Phil is more concerned with what God thinks than the network or any one else. If Bible Thumpers are WRONG AND ALLOWED to be bashed over upholding the Bible which was written by Gods words, yet the sinners in what ever form of sin ARE WELCOMED AND ALLOWED TO bash christians for their believes then the WHOLE WORLD has gone to HELL.

    December 19, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • Madtown

      or quote the word of God...
      ---–
      Stopped reading here.

      December 19, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • Sammy

      He is welcome to proclaim his faith.
      Not quite what he did....
      Proclaiming a segment of society screws animals because they love a person of the same gender is disgusting. He deserves all the contempt he is getting.

      December 19, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
      • Topher

        Not sure that's what he said.

        December 19, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          Topher
          Your ability to rationalize anything is highly suspect, carry on.

          December 19, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
        • Topher

          Let me clarify my previous statement ... it's NOT what he said at all.

          December 19, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          Topher
          Your original statement was conjecture, your clarification a lie, typical of you.

          December 19, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
        • Thinker...

          Actually in this case Topher is right. He equated the two as 'sins' but he never said that being ga.y meant you were into bestiality.

          December 20, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Establish, to a high probability, not necessarily a certainty, that any gods exist and I will stop ridiculing your beliefs. As it stands, there is no more reason to believe in your god than to put faith in astrology. You don't literally believe in astrology, do you?

      December 19, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • Honey Hush

      Margie
      You sound like a lover of the bible, bet you wish you could still own slaves to do all the dirty work and take all your sadism out on them; you seem to have a lot of built up loathing for those that do not believe as you do.

      December 19, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
      • margie

        Only belief that I have is that everyone should have same abilitly to express them selfs without being condemned by others that feel oppisite. And 2 find that You seem to think Im racist and would enjoy slaves, shows how assumtions are very seldom right/ the truth is I am black or african american to be politically correct. I dont feel there is any one group right or wrong over their ways its those that want to force their ways into being the only right ways whom need to realize if they are going to stand for their freedoms why should others not also.

        December 19, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • Dee

      Can't figure out what you wanted to say

      December 19, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
  7. obotma

    this pastor is looking for a payoff!

    December 19, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
  8. Dyslexic doG

    the perfect quote:

    “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."

    yep ... all these bible characters were just bronze age hillbillies with big mouths.

    Write some of it down, wait 2000 years and all of a sudden it's the word of god.

    what a #%^$ joke!!!

    December 19, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • Madtown

      The Gospel of Jim Bob.

      December 19, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
  9. Jules

    Maybe Robertson should follow the teachings of Jesus instead of listening to someone's lesson of intolerance and judgement.

    December 19, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • Andres

      Amen!

      December 19, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • Rett

      "Go and sin no more"....."I tell you unless you repent you will all likewise perish".....you mean like these teaching of Jesus?....or just the more warm, cozy teachings?

      December 22, 2013 at 6:56 am |
  10. redrockhistory

    Everyone in the US has an opinion about something or other.....it will not be upheld by some faction of the citizens.....it's life......live with it!!!!! I don't go to church at all....but I think Phil has the right to state his beliefs out loud (called freedom of speech). If people want to take offense to that.....go ahead, it is your choice to react as you wish to anyone's opinions....but if he doesn't have the right to state his.....then all of YOU take your opinions OFF the table too!!!!!!

    December 19, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • jed clampett

      Do you get that he does have the right to say whatever he wants (except for fire in a crowded movie theater). He just does not have immunity from the consequences. Bigotry is a sin in my book.

      December 19, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • gggeflat

      He's suspended (not even fired), not imprisoned. His words have been allowed to be circulated without censorship. That is the very definition of freedom of speech (and freedom of the press). But employers are allowed to impose certain requirements on their employees. You do have the freedom to tell your boss off, but you do not have the right to retain your job afterwords. If you are a pastor, you can certainly choose to announce that God does not exist, but you will likely find yourself fired by your church (or suspended). His freedom of speech has not been infringed upon, but his employer is exercising their rights to hold him to certain behavioral standards when he is on duty (and when he is doing interviews to promote his show, he is on duty).

      December 19, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
  11. Dyslexic doG

    without Duck Dynasty, Honey BooBoo or the Kardashians to watch 2,000 years ago, people had to make stuff up to entertain themselves. The Bible is just a collection of the best of those stories. It's like America's Funniest Home Videos from the bronze age. 🙂

    December 19, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • cheryl

      I feel sorry for you! You will one day find out how true the bible is. Spending eternity with the Devil is not going to be fun!

      December 19, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
      • griz5106ke

        Actually, I am looking forward to spending eternity with the devil......because hell is where the SINNERS are!

        December 19, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
        • Rett

          Read up on it, buddy...it is dark there

          December 22, 2013 at 6:57 am |
  12. WWJD

    I have to applaud Phil for being true to his Christian walk. How can A&E support the Robertson's by showing the family gather at the end of the show and give thanks to God and then sensor him for speaking biblical truth. By the way, what the bible teaches is not just reserverd for Christians, the same teaching about the sins which are an abomination to God are also found (in Leviticus in the Old Testiment). I hope A&E are ready for the Jewish backlash as well as the Christian.

    December 19, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      "biblical truth" ... LOLOLOL ... what an oxymoron!

      December 19, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • Colin

      I agree. It shows how ridiculous it is to still look to Bronze Age mythology for our morality in the 21st Century, doesn't it?

      December 19, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • Truth

      All Truth is God's Truth. Perversion is sin. No number of whining ho mose xuals will ever change that!

      December 19, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
      • Madtown

        Is idiocy a sin?

        December 19, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
      • WWJD

        Amen. What is so amazing are the postings of those who are ignorant to what the Bible actually says. Whether you have a belief in the Bible, Koran or other teachings, it comes down to accepting what is wrong and what is right. The U.S. was built on Christian principals which have been steadily eroded by "21st century" thinking. "We reap what we sow" I think speaks volumes to the current state of the U.S. and other like countries and their failing economy's and social immorality. Thank God there are still folks who know the truth and are not deterred by ignorant riticule to speak it and stand up for it.

        December 19, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
        • Madtown

          those who are ignorant to what the Bible actually says
          -----–
          What about those who are ignorant of only half of the many different versions of the bible, but who have complete understanding of the other half of the many different versions?

          December 19, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
      • Sammy

        Christian women abort more fetuses than gay women. Who are the perverts??

        December 19, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
        • Rett

          sin is part of all of us, isn't it?

          December 22, 2013 at 6:59 am |
      • MoveForward

        Sin is a religious concept. It's not a universal concept. Without belief in religion, it's meaningless. No God, no sin. Know God, know sin.

        December 19, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • Andres

      The problem is there are several versions of the Bible and different interpretations. Besides, he is representing the network and he put the A&E in a negative spotlight. I say fire the stupid jack@ss. There was no Christian love expressed in his comments anyways.

      December 19, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
      • MoveForward

        Literally, tens of thousands of interpretations. Perhaps billions...

        December 19, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
  13. Dan

    "He has literally helped bring hundreds of people to the Lord," the pastor added. You mean brought the sheep in to get fleeced.

    December 19, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
  14. we see your true color by your talk

    only those who are offended are the ones who always play the race card first and those who do offend me so climb back in your hole. The card players are the racists and we know who they are, the uniformed, uneducated obamanites...

    December 19, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • Akira

      Sure thing there, Sparky.

      December 19, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • Andres

      And you fundamentalist always play the victim when you spew your hate. Then say we are all from the left, when we are not, but we should. That is why independents like me don't give Republicans the vote, because of tea mongers like you. And you will keep loosing.

      December 19, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
  15. greenaxe

    Love thy neighbor...unless of course they are gay.

    December 19, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
    • K210

      Live and let live, be tolerant... unless they disagree with you.

      December 19, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
      • Freedom of speech

        So true!!!

        December 19, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
  16. Gregory

    "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."

    ...and SOMETIMES those who are rubbed the wrong way will do what's good for business... (which, btw, is far more capitalist than communist).

    December 19, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
  17. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    December 19, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • karlotious

      bwhahaha yeah usually warms your hands

      December 19, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
      • Truth

        How would you know?

        December 19, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • Dave

      Yeah go read the study where people who knew they were being prayed for did worse than those who knew no one was praying for them. Me, I'll take a good doctor over a thousand prayers any day.

      December 20, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
  18. Amanda

    So we are basically turning into a communist nation if you can't think, feel, or speak what you believe now. SMH

    December 19, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • Akira

      Really? The government is involved?

      December 19, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • sly

      True! Just yesterday I was joking about how they should conduct High Dive contests at the World Trade Center to honor those that jumped.

      Gosh ... all these politically correct people were not laughing. Get some humor folks! I remember making some hilarious jokes when Reagan got shot about how he wouldn't have to dress up for Halloween ... and some folks got mad about that also!

      Darned commies ...

      December 19, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
      • Akira

        You are naughty...

        December 19, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
        • sly

          Yep – best way to communicate with these hill billies is to throw the opposite in their face.

          They can say what they want about gays and non-whites, but make "Cooked Dale Earnhart" jokes and they get all their panties in a bun ...

          Pretty amusing I'd say ...

          December 19, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
        • Akira

          Cooked Dale Earnhart? Lmao! You are naughty!!

          December 19, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      You have the right to think, feel and speak anything you want. Others have the right to disagree with you and to disassociate from you. Your rights do not trump others'. He got to say his peace, now others including A&E get to say theirs. How is this communistic?

      December 19, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
    • Dee

      Duh !

      December 19, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
  19. Gregory Jeffers

    First, Churches of Christ don't call their ministers "pastors." They call them "preachers" or "ministers."

    Second, Rick Warren's church is in California, not Louisiana.

    Third, while Churches of Christ like to think of themselves as nondenominational, they most definitely comprise a denomination.

    This article is a good example of how crappy religion reporting tends to be

    December 19, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • MoveForward

      And an example of poor reading skills. The article does mention Rick Warrens church in...surprise, surprise, California. The article talks about the senior pastor here (Mike Kellet) who preached a sermon at Rick Warren's church. And yes, technically he's the senior "Minister" but the difference is picking nits.

      December 19, 2013 at 5:30 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.