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. Rev Barry Cantrell

    AH, speak up with apposing view and you blasted with 'hate' saying you have no right! You tell me, as Christians you are suppose to be love. If your not Christian who/how do you know the behavior I'm to have? I don't agree with all that Duck Dynasty has to say, nor do I agree all the Pope says, or what Ozzy Osbourne has to say. However there are morsel of truth that get said and need to be written down.The fact that is being forgotten is freedom of speech and independent thinking. I was taught this in history class as one of the strong hold differences of US Citizens and others. I was taught, and I taught it in Sunday as a Baptist we too have the same right. In fact we use Baptist as an acronym to teach this; the I is for independent....The apostle Paul taught this as did Jesus. The Christian independent thinker must think with a mind of Christ. How do we develop a mind of Christ? It begins believe it or not with a total surrender of self to God almighty at the cross, asking Jesus the Christ to forgive us of our sin, to wash them away with His precious eternal life giving, saving blood. That act when real, as symbolized by Baptism -submerged underwater-buried old creature-raised up new, a new person. Alive to understand Romans chapter 1 verse 16 through verse 32.If this is Gods word and I'm to have a mind of Christ what am I to do with this truth?

    December 22, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • midwest rail

      This is in no way shape or form a 1st Amendment issue. His right to free speech has not been violated.

      December 22, 2013 at 10:30 am |
      • Charlie

        if he is persecuted for his 'freedom of speech' then it has been violated..."abridging the freedom of speech" that is what is in there...they are punishing him for it.

        December 22, 2013 at 11:11 am |
        • midwest rail

          You are absolutely wrong. A private corporation cannot, by definition, abridge his 1st Amendment rights.

          December 22, 2013 at 11:13 am |
  2. sybaris

    The show is fake


    December 22, 2013 at 10:17 am |
  3. Shayna

    What I will never understand are conservative Christians cherry picking the bible passages they want to follow. Do they eat pork? It clearly states in Deuteronomy that you can only eat an animal that chews its cud & has cloven hooves. Pig forbidden!
    Also, you only eat seafood that has scales. Out with shrimp!

    Of course, there are many others like killing your own child for disobedience, stoning for adultery...the list goes on & on.

    In addition, no one seems concerned that this ignorant person said black people were better off w/Jim Crow in pre-civil rights Louisiana.

    The depth of such ignorance is mind-boggling.

    December 22, 2013 at 10:14 am |
    • charlie in NY

      I quite agree with your statement "The depth of such ignorance is mind-boggling.". you do realize you're referencing the old testament! Please in the future spend just a little more time attempting to understand the entire passage and it's place in scripture.

      December 22, 2013 at 11:05 am |
  4. Realist


    Christianity is built upon a LIE ...

    ................ because ....................

    ..... http://www.GodIsImaginary.com ...

    ... and thank goodness because he ...

    ............. emanates from the .............

    ...................... http://www.EvilBible.com


    December 22, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • john ruff

      I stopped believing in imaginary friends a long, long time ago. Best decision I have made so far.

      December 22, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
  5. Tom

    People like Robertson make Christianity complex. It is simple," Love God and love your neighbor as yourself". Is that the life that Robertson and his supporters live?

    December 22, 2013 at 6:25 am |
    • Rett

      You may be the one making things to simple.......If "Love God and love your neighbor" were all there was to it no one would hardly take offense......the requirments of the law of God are indeed summed up in those two commands but no one can perfectly and completely fulfill that law......we are all sinners (by birth and by choice) condemned before God unless we accept the remedy God provided....the gospel is offensive by its very nature (the Bible says as much)

      December 22, 2013 at 6:39 am |
    • Reality # 2

      "As a concept, the Golden Rule has a history that long predates the term "Golden Rule", or "Golden law", as it was called from the 1670s.[1][6] As a concept of "the ethic of reciprocity," it has its roots in a wide range of world cultures, and is a standard way that different cultures use to resolve conflicts.[1][5] It has a long history, and a great number of prominent religious figures and philosophers have restated its reciprocal, "two-way" nature in various ways (not limited to the above forms).[1]

      Rushworth Kidder discusses the early contributions of Confucius (551–479 BCE) (See a version in Confucianism below). Kidder notes that this concept's framework appears prominently in many religions, including "Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, and the rest of the world's major religions".[7] According to Greg M. Epstein, " 'do unto others' ... is a concept that essentially no religion misses entirely."[8] Simon Blackburn also states that the Golden Rule can be "found in some form in almost every ethical tradition".[9] In his commentary to the Torah verse (Hebrew: "ואהבת לרעך כמוך" ca.1300 BCE):"

      You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

      —Leviticus 19:18[10], the "Great Commandment"

      Did the historical Jesus utter a version of the Golden Rule? Luke 6:31 = Matt 7:12- no he did not according to the findings of many contemporary NT scholars.

      e.g Professor Gerd Luedemann [Jesus, 151f] notes the ancient and diverse attestation of this saying in antiquity, including its earliest occurrence in Herodotus III 142, 3:

      "I will not do that for which I censure my neighbors."

      From Ludemann's book, Jesus After 2000 Years, pp. 151-152, " In view of the widespread attestation of the Golden Rule in antiquity and its generality, it cannot be attributed to Jesus."

      See also: http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb033.html

      And because of the common sense nature of the Golden Rule, most humans to include myself follow said rule.

      December 22, 2013 at 7:04 am |
    • Realist


      Christianity is built upon a LIE ...

      ................ because ....................

      ..... http://www.GodIsImaginary.com ...

      ... and thank goodness because he ...

      ............. emanates from the .............

      ...................... http://www.EvilBible.com


      December 22, 2013 at 9:33 am |
  6. jleoxii13

    To be honest, everyone has only 24 hours in a day. Kids are bringing guns into schools, girls are getting attacked walking to school, people are starving down the street....if this topic is a priority at all, you all got issues.

    December 22, 2013 at 6:22 am |
    • KAREN

      It's all relative. The Bible describes sin as anything against God or his Word. Many of the problems we see in society today are due to a disregard for the Word of God. He sent in motion cause and effect. He tells us what actions will cause the best affect and what actions will cause the worse effect. It's our choice you see, but then when we end up with kids killing and raping kids, we're not sure why that is happening, right?

      December 22, 2013 at 8:49 am |
      • UncleM

        Your god doesn't exist. We need another source for morality. And Christians are no more moral than any other group now or historically, despite their fear of their jealous vengeful god.

        December 22, 2013 at 11:13 am |
    • 2NoWay

      It is all related. People now accepting wrong instead of right, confusing themselves and the children they are supposed to be teaching the truth and right. And so with confusion comes all this negative stuff you mention.

      December 22, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
      • Observer


        Why is what 2 consenting single adults do in the privacy of their bedroom ANY of your business or God's?

        December 22, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
  7. buzz

    Is it any surprise a dumb pastor, who uses a book of tall tales and outright lies to interpret the spirit of our higher conscience, would defend that ignorant mongrel's views?

    December 22, 2013 at 5:18 am |
    • giggy

      Since th beginning of writing in the heart of Egypt religion was centered around the myth of Son and Seth. The whole story of these gods are carried by mouth changing in different languages. No human has no concept of any god as non exist. This animation of the mind.is forced down the throats of people and even they don't believe. They force themselves to believe out of felling that death is eternal. If is there will be no life after death and that actually scares people into submission of pearly gates. If people where to understand that this is it we would try to make this the best planet that we could. Yet, reilgion and racism goes hand in hand with portrayal ofa diety god in statue and in portrait to make him like self.

      December 22, 2013 at 9:16 am |
      • m0lehead

        If it were like you say giggy and I knew that to be true 100 percent. I would not be trying to make this terrible world the best place I could, I would be running with a gang of thugs to take what I wanted, killing people like you because I would not care since I only face death with no consequence. You should be glad there are a lot of people like me who would be in jail if it were not for how their faith has changed them!

        December 22, 2013 at 9:55 am |
        • 2NoWay

          The sad thing, as you already know, that time of total rampant gang activities is approaching too, already occurring in the Middle East and in Africa and in South America and in some cities here. People don't want to hear about their Savior because He teaches against their selected sins.

          December 22, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
  8. Name*Peter Dehne

    Support full of Phil Robertson who obey God than men. It is not important what he has long hair, long beard and ancient clothes. What worthy for him to read Philippians 1:27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ: that, whether I come and see you or be absent, I may hear of your state, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one soul striving for the faith of the gospel.
    With Christian Love
    Bro Peter Dehne (Deaf )
    P.S. Member of church of Christ, Vic, Australia

    December 22, 2013 at 4:49 am |
    • giggy

      This god you speak of is nothing but a myth and even you force your mind to believe

      December 22, 2013 at 9:20 am |
  9. Winston5

    'Pastor Defends Duck Star', wow, next exclusive, "Night Follows Day!"

    December 22, 2013 at 4:24 am |
  10. miscreantsall

    Yay…..the ignorant supporting the very ignorant.


    December 22, 2013 at 3:57 am |
  11. Sophie Meyer

    Check out the you tube video "Duck Dynasty is Fake! They're nothing but frauds with a clever scheme to fleece the rubes for their hard earned money.

    December 21, 2013 at 11:58 pm |
  12. Sabrina

    I'm kinda shocked that people are surprised he feels the way he does. A self-proclaimed redneck, bible thumper and lives in a southern rural community... I live in a community very similar and this view is shared by many. What shocks me the most is his views on the African American community. Wow. That is just ignorance at its highest form.

    December 21, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
  13. Jo

    GLAD are the Bigots. They cannot abide anyone who can love them but not their lifestyle. God is a God of Love, and not hate, but they Hate anyone who challenges THEIiR beliefs. So do dictators!

    December 21, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
    • Maddy

      Can you tell me what their "lifestyle" is, and how it differs from your "lifestyle"?

      Take away the gender preference. How is your life any different from theirs?

      Also, can you please tell me chapter and verse where Jesus said anything about gays?


      December 21, 2013 at 11:58 pm |
      • 2NoWay

        Read the Bible for yourself. There will be other things in there that you will find that teaches against some of the other sins you have.

        December 22, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • Soughtful


      December 22, 2013 at 1:24 am |
  14. Becky

    How many of you know that Willie and his wife have a son Willie Jr who is biracial (adopted at 5 weeks). I love Duck Dynasty and I am not a redneck, not from the south and my husband who is black was the first one in our family to fall in love with the show. It is not just rednecks who like the show. Besides, there is a lot of things on tv that are offensive to people and yet we don't see anyone taking people of those shows...

    December 21, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
    • Maddy

      Yes, most people know that Willie Jr is biracial. So? My granddaughter is, too. So?
      Willie Sr isn't the one in the middle of the controversy.

      December 22, 2013 at 12:21 am |
  15. Smack

    He was asked a question and gave a answer so quit being so sensitive put your big pants on or dress and get a life .

    December 21, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
  16. annabelle

    All the hate over something someone said and believes. It's in the Old and the New Testaments so that shouldn't be a surprise that a devout Christian would follow that "law of the Bible". Everyone yelling hater, hater, hater....where does that leave you, hating? Christ wanted all to know that they had to stop sinning and start loving Him so that we may enter heaven. That includes to stop ridiculing and judging others. Judgment is up to God. Instruction to save oneself from judgment is necessary. Just like being able to know that you can't legally run a red light, someone had to tell you it's against the law otherwise you will perish. Sound familiar? Stop judging, stop sinning, start learning and start loving......Blessings to you all, believers, non-believers, and uncertains....

    December 21, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Blah, blah, blah and still not a shred of actual evidence that your alleged but unproven god exists. How do you know your beliefs are correct? Are you pretending to know things you don't?

      December 21, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
      • Smack

        I see your point lets say for argument sake there is no god and when you die you just sleep forever. Now lets say your wrong and when you die you wake up and you are in hell .Id hate to be you than so Blah Blah Blah that.

        December 21, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
        • krivka

          I guess it all depends on your definition of Hell. There is no real idea of what awaits. Some think the God you worship is the evil one leading people to worship it without using the mind and the ability to reason. What would happen to you if GOD really exists and you are worshipping the wrong one? If Jesus lived, much of what he taught would be very moral but nothing he taught or stood for was radical or revolutionary in the area of ethical or moral thoughts, but he wasn't and isn't a God.

          December 21, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
        • Dr. Mark Lynch

          You are dead wrong my dear friend. There may be no real "human idea" of what awaits us at death, but we do have biblical truth which is always trustworthy and straight to the point from God in Heaven. Christ is the third member of the Triune God in Heaven today as always and is revealed throughout scripture as God the Son. On earth He was fully God and fully man. His name was "Immanuel" which means "God with us!" And as far as Hell is concerned you need to read Revelation 20 Verses 11-15. Hell is a Lake which burns for all eternity with fire and brimstone and the eternal home of all those who deny Christ as Savior. In Luke chapter 16 verses 19-31 we have a very clear picture of what awaits those who deny Christ and the existence of God. The "Fool hath said in his heart that there is no God" says scripture. As far as "what some think" you need to understand that peoples opinions change, peoples ideas change, peoples beliefs change, but "God's Word" never changes and the "Truth" that it reveals never changes because it is "settled in Heaven." As far as what Jesus taught while living on this earth He clearly states that "everything He taught were words from His Father in Heaven" so they were words of truth and cannot be denied. Now you may say "well I do not believe the bible" but this is what I would share with you my friend, "It does not matter what we believe as far as God is concerned nor whether the Bible is actually true or not" because whether we believe it or not does not change the fact that "it is truth" and Jesus Christ is Lord. The Bible plainly states"For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God." So you go on disbelieving and mocking the believers on this site but one day you will believe and face your maker I can guarantee that.

          December 21, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          Yawn . . . Yet another trotting out of Pascal's Wager . . .

          December 21, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
        • The Lady Up The Street


          December 22, 2013 at 11:02 am |
        • UncleM

          There is little truth in a book of myths.

          December 22, 2013 at 11:15 am |
  17. huskiemom

    Phil should have listened to Pope Francis. Who is Phil to judge? Besides, all this could have been avoided if A&E stuck to arts and entertainment. Gays, blacks, Christians and atheist gave Duck Dynasty the green light to begin with!

    December 21, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
  18. Eric

    Any real Christan's shouldn't care ether way about this situation. A Christan is comfortable in his, or her beliefs. Apparently there are a lot of wan-a-be Christan's in this country.

    December 21, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
  19. Reality # 2

    "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."

    – Professor JD Crossan

    December 21, 2013 at 5:20 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.