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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. SeremVamSeUDemokratiju

    Getting a fight/boycott/p***ing contests between the bible-thumpers and salami-smugglers is a reliable way to generate ratings. People in this country are cowards to fight it out in a real way.

    December 19, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
  2. Kris

    Of course his pastor defends him. He probably gives a bunch of money to his church.

    December 19, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
  3. SeremVamSeUDemokratiju

    Gee, I wonder if maybe this was a staged stunt to get more ratings?

    Nothing inflames the masses like a divisive political issue...

    December 19, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
    • RandyC

      I don't think they needed more ratings: Duck Dynasty is the #1 reality show on cable.

      December 19, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
  4. Steve Hogan

    If I had a problem with his beliefs then I would have to have a problem with every bodies beliefs. Just because the world decides they like watching a mock up of his daily like doesn't me he must fit the boring politically correct mold. His beliefs are not mine but I'm fine with him having different opinions. His experiences in life can't possible be like yours or mine because we've all had our own live. He's entertaining and so is the show. Get along now and find something important to do.

    December 19, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
  5. SeremVamSeUDemokratiju

    What's the next step?

    We hang or shoot those who "offend" us?

    December 19, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
    • tallulah13

      An employer has the right to suspend or fire an employee whose comments or actions damage the image of their company or product. Capitalism in action!

      December 19, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
      • lol??

        lol??
        Your comment is awaiting moderation.
        Now the socies are sayin' the corporations own their employees 24/7. Yup, they know freedom, NOT!!!!

        December 19, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
  6. SeremVamSeUDemokratiju

    You have the right to say anything you want...as long as you don't "offend" anyone. ha ha ha

    Some freedom...

    December 19, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
    • rational63

      Nobody is denying him his right to say anything he wants! They are,however, holding him accountable for what he says! There's a difference!

      December 19, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
  7. scootfl78

    Yeah, we were wondering what the pastor of this ultra-conservative, super religious family thought. Thanks for the shocking news CNN. We never would have guessed that the Robertsons would choose a religious leader who actually sides with their views because people usually go to churches they don't agree with. That was sarcasm if you didn't get it. Also, you can't hate what I just said since I have freedom of speech and Sarah Palin says you can't ever disagree with people who say what they want.

    December 19, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
  8. JediKurac

    Those who preach tolerance certainly do not appear to practice it.

    December 19, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Yes. It's amazing how many christians threaten to boycott anything that supports gay rights. Remember the kerfuffle when the Boy Scouts decided to allow gay children to participate?

      December 19, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
    • Jackson

      And how many conservatives who preach "morality" and "family values" have mistresses.

      I guess they are only concerned with other people's morality, not their own.

      December 20, 2013 at 11:43 am |
  9. JediKurac

    He did say stupid things, but to punish him for it is beyond repulsive.

    December 19, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
    • JJ

      You feel the same way towards Pastor Fred Phelps?

      December 19, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
    • Shirley

      You're right. Anybody should be able to be as big a d bag as they want to be with no fear of repercussion. Say what you want, act as you please, the hell with others? This is Murrika, dang it !

      December 19, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      A&E was smart to remove him and save their name.

      December 19, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
    • scootfl78

      You do know that people get fired for making hateful comments don't you Jedi? If we lived in a world where people were allowed to say whatever they want without consequences, then how exactly do you think society would survive such an ordeal?

      The only people who disagree with A&E's decision are those who are anti-business (as it was a business decision to suspend him - not the government's).

      December 19, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
  10. Joe

    Saying jokes about religion is not bad..
    Saying jokes about God is not bad...
    Saying a stupid joke about gays is very bad and deserves a fine or jail...

    What type of democracy is this?? Everyone gets joked, so what?!

    December 19, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Why do bullies always claim that they were joking?

      December 19, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
      • lol??

        Why do you ask?? Mobs don't care because they can't.

        December 19, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
      • RandyC

        So what? everyone gets bullied, including and especially Christians. Grow some courage and take a little punishment people, it won't hurt you. This guys gives his honest opinion and you might have thought he shot somebody's dog.

        December 19, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
        • tallulah13

          You didn't answer the question, Randy? Why do bullies always say that they were joking? Why can't they man up and admit that they were picking on people because they don't like them?

          December 19, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
        • tallulah13

          And christianity is the most popular religion in this country. Stop pretending to be a martyr.

          December 19, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
        • Observing

          The left and right bully each other and all is fair in war

          December 19, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Two of your examples concern imaginary items. How could jokes about items be offensive?

      December 19, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
  11. JW

    Isaiah 5:20 "Woe to those who say that good is bad and bad is good,
    Those who substiitute darkness for light and light for darkness..."

    December 19, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    • H0m0ph0bic-Fear!

      "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."
      John 13:34

      December 19, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
      • JW

        Its true. We have to love all kinds of people. Though the bible is straight forward about gays, for.nicators, adulteries, etc...

        December 19, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
        • H0m0ph0bic-Fear!

          The Bible is not straight forward about h.mos*xuality.

          Jesus' moral teachings don't even mention the subject.

          And today we have h.omos*xual Christians leading and serving in churches, in the same manner that heteros.xual Christians lead and serve. Is your love and service to others better than mine?

          December 19, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
        • lol??

          You think a gay would engage Jesus in front of those crowds when it might mean death?? You are nutzo.

          December 19, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
        • H0m0ph0bic-Fear!

          He still said nothing about the matter. Jesus didn't seem to be the kind of guy that wouldn't say something because it would get him killed.

          December 19, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
      • lol??

        He was talkin' about love between Christians. Gays are just given up and really should have no interest in the Gospel. If they show an interest it's fake, and they have a long practice of living undercover.

        December 19, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
        • H0m0ph0bic-Fear!

          No. If a Christian draws a line and says "us" (heteros) and "them" (g.ays), Jesus is asking us to show love to the "them" (g.ays).

          It is easy to love other Christians that believe the same as you. Jesus challenges us to love "others". As he loved "others".

          December 19, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
        • lol??

          Wrong toots,

          Mat 15:24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

          December 19, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
        • H0m0ph0bic-Fear!

          "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

          Now, Jesus didn't stutter. He did not say, "Love your straight neighbor as yourself," or "Love your g*y neighbor as yourself," or your "white neighbor," "black neighbor," "Christian neighbor," "atheist neighbor," etc. He said it PLAIN, SIMPLE and without stuttering: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

          If you are a Christian or a lover of Jesus like I am, then it BEGINS and ENDS here. Why? Because Jesus said in His own words that these are the TOP TWO commandments that EVERYTHING else lay upon.

          This is not out of context. This is not to be subverted because Paul said something, or another Prophet said something else in the Old Testament. Jesus was VERY clear that these two commandments TRUMP everything and everyone else and what they said.

          December 19, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
        • lol??

          His audience was not-a-jew Jews that thought they could please the Father with their law keeping ability. They had forgotten about the divorce, and still to this day have forgotten it.

          December 19, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
        • H0m0ph0bic-Fear!

          If Christians attacked divorced Christians like they do g.ay Christians we wouldn't have many Christians left.

          December 19, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
        • lol??

          The Beasties already do. 'Sides they usurped authority over that relationship and crushed it.

          December 19, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
    • Des

      So there is JW, the cowardly shill for his death cult, back again trying to fish for converts.

      In JW's deadly cult, blood transfusions are not allowed, even if the patient would die without one. Everyone, watch out for JWs fishing expeditions; he is a despicable con man who shows up here all too often, and the consequences can be deadly if you join his crazy cult.

      December 19, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
      • JW

        LOL....i love your humor Des.

        December 19, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
  12. GranPa

    In my time being gay and doing things like the Kardashians do, Bieber, Miley Cyrus... was considered very bad...today all of this is very good and funny...and people look weird at you if you have any kind of morals..What this world has come to be..GArbage!

    December 19, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • H0m0ph0bic-Fear!

      Did people also use the N-Word a lot in your day?

      December 19, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
      • GranPa

        Yes many did... It was still considered rude and disrespectful in between normal people!

        December 19, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
        • tallulah13

          Most "normal" people understand that discriminatory comments about gays and lesbians are bad mannered and ill-informed.

          December 19, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Most people recognize that the Kardashians are trashy and that Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber are very messed-up kids. The existence and popularity of these people is not an excuse for bigotry.

      December 19, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
  13. Arla Baragar

    First – this is advertised as a "reality show". Second – what happened to "freedom of speech/ideals"? Third -while I do not agree with the expressed views, I feel (read the word "feel" as one who watches the show) that the views/beliefs of the persons who appear on the "reality show" should NOT result in retribution. "Reality" should not be subjected to judgement. Just sayin'

    December 19, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • tallulah13

      This guy is an employee of the A&E channel. His comments did not reflect the policies of his employer and was in fact offensive to many of the customers of his employer. I don't know about you, but if I insulted a large portion of my bosses customers, I would be suspended if not fired.

      December 19, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
      • lol??

        Aren't you just used to it, being a woman??

        December 19, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
        • tallulah13

          You sad, pathetic little troll. Does it bother you that no one actually cares or is interested in what you say?

          December 19, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
        • lol??

          Mobs don't care. They can't. Do you live in a Crips state or a Bloods state??

          December 19, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
      • joelpeter

        Tallulah, you rock!

        December 19, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
  14. Gol

    Good grief this is stupid.
    Does a person have the right to state his opinion? Yes.
    Does saying that it is their opinion protect them from criticism? No.

    Does one man of a peticular faith represent the entire religion? No.

    That's it in a nutshell. Why do we have 7 pages of comments?

    December 19, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
    • jimbocombo

      Agree! A&E. Grow up. It's 'reality' TV. You got your market research – the support shows you have viewers.

      December 19, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
  15. BigDuck

    Ok everyone including gays deserve respect... but no one cares if Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber does any stupid act... This world is lost!

    December 19, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
  16. Dale

    Why was the gay rights man had all the time to speak but the pastor did not. That shows right there that the news and media is one side. SHAME ON CNN. He was wrong too. The Bible talks about people becoming free from slavery. You have to have slaves first before they cane become free. The whole meaning of the Bible is to set us free from our sins. Not to be put in slavery.

    December 19, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
    • H0m0ph0bic-Fear!

      If h.mos*xuality causes you to feel enslaved, don't do it.
      But 2 consenting adults should be free to love each other.

      December 19, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
      • lol??

        How 'bout freeing the Masters from the enormous public debt the Servants ran up?? Hooked on s*ex??

        December 19, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Why should delusional shamans be given any airtime? Would you give an astrologer equal airtime?

      December 19, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
  17. w

    Apparently according to the modern "christian" God is hate!
    I also love how Albert Mohler in an interview here on CNN said that America watched and loved Duck Dynasty because it was such a great example of a "christian family", "christian values" and its "christian message" LOL MAYBE the ultra-right-wing-conservative-"christian"-holier-than-thou-"family"-values-GOP-Tea-Party-fanatical-extremists watch it because it backs up their vile beliefs but I'm sorry to break it to you Dr. Mohler but most who watch it do so for the same reason they watch Jerry Springer, The Jersey Shore, other "reality" TV, and why they can NOT turn away from a horrific vehicle/bus/plane/train-wreck! It is fascinating to see other individual's twisted, bizarre, damaged lives and thus feel that their own lives are just not that bad after all!

    December 19, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
    • Arla Baragar

      Justsoyaknow – I do not watch any of the shows your have annotated. I do watch Duck Dynasty because they are "truthful" in their beliefs. Also I may not totally agree with what values or views are expressed, this is (as I understand it – but correct me if I am incorrect) "REALITY TV" – therefore not scripted to the views of the masses – just saying'

      December 19, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
      • tallulah13

        An employee whose words or actions damage the product of their employer is subject to being suspended or fired. Just saying.

        December 19, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
        • jimbocombo

          You say that is damaging to the product of the employer. It's obviously generated a lot of support so it can't be perceived as being bad. Neither you or I have the details of what was agreed to. A&E knew of the perceivable controversy of having a conservative family on 'so-called' reality TV. Now when it gets a little too 'real' and a subset of their viewers are up in arms over someone truthfully speaking their views off camera, A&E wants to cry foul. Whaaat? Thank God (never a pun intended there) for men who speak what they believe. Are country is bankrupted of men like this who are ok to speak their truth but do so in a non-hate context. There was no hate involved. Watch the show and the hate is not there. Yes, he responded afterward, but to clarify what viewers already knew – he's compelled by truth but walks in love/respect for others.

          December 19, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
        • tallulah13

          Obviously A&E does not agree with your assessment of the situation.

          December 19, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
  18. BringPhilBack

    Way to go Phil! More Christians should stand up and stop being silent. http://www.gatewaytotruth.com

    December 19, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Christians silent? I've heard that some have taken a vow of silence, but sadly very few if any in the USA. You only need to read the news to see how much christians want their beliefs to be central to our society, and how vocal they are about that desire.

      December 19, 2013 at 9:32 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.