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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. Clear and Present Thinker

    Freedom of speech does not mean freedom of consequences. Duck Dude speaks, A&E fires him; the Ducky Family puts on a stupid show, I don't watch it. Pastor defends a false prophet; I don't go to his church. None of these consequences include any government action whatsoever; the First Amendment is in full force. Amen.

    December 19, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
    • ClevelandJeff

      Suns it up pretty well.

      December 19, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
    • Williemojorisin

      the Ducky Family puts on a stupid show, I don't watch it.

      If you don't watch it. How can you say it's stupid?....oh wait...b/c the left tells you it's stupid. I've never watched it so I won't make an uninformed opinion.

      December 19, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
      • ClevelandJeff

        No, because one commercial will TELL you it's stupid. Get a life.

        December 19, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
      • Shannon

        You can think the premise of a show (based on advertising) is stupid. Or, you can watch 1 episode, and then decide that it is stupid. There are 2 perfectly reasonable ways to decide that a show is not worth your time, 2 ways that do not include brainwashing, so I do not understand why you would accuse someone of blindly following the left.
        I would like to agree with "Clear and Present Thinker" that freedom of speech does not equal freedom from consequences.

        December 19, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
        • ClevelandJeff

          Having seen commercials for this show for a few years, (I watch 'The First 48'), I have concluded that it is, indeed, stupid.
          I also agree with Clear.

          December 19, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
  2. dean morse

    It is scary to read some of these posts, defending the Lord! Some of these comment sound like they are being made by those extremists we are killing over in Afghanistan! Next thing you know, we will be having a "Holy War".

    December 19, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
    • lol??

      The socie War on Poverty and the War on Drugs worked out so well they're thinkin' of a War on Christians to make em more LUVing. Meanwhile the War on Sickness continues.

      December 19, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
      • Cliche

        What have you done for the poverty stricken? Let me guess....nothing. Nasty thing. There's no war on Christians. There's no socialism. There is only your clichéd fear of what makes you uncomfortable outside your tiny echo chamber.

        December 19, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
  3. Colin

    Does it ever seem odd to you believers that a being powerful enough to create the entire Universe with its billions of galaxies would have a personal interest in how human beings have $ex? Has it ever occurred to you that the obsession with how human beings have $ex is an entirely human affair?

    December 19, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
    • H0m0ph0bic-Fear!

      Some do realize that. It is our puritan heritage. America!

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

        Puritan heritage? Do you mean the ones who hunted witches and cheated the natives out of their homes?

        December 19, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
        • H0m0ph0bic-Fear!

          Yes. A lot of their customs and norms shaped the America we live in today. We still kill our enemies like them.

          December 19, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
    • dean morse

      Very perceptive! And... entirely TRUE!!!! Serve the Lord? Jesus!!

      December 19, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I'd guess that God's interest is an indication of God's sexual problems. There are a other few clues about that – God's virgin obsession and strange concerns about penises. Serious repression I'd say.

      December 19, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
  4. LightGal

    People who are celebrating New Mexico's gay marriage as well as people who love the duck dynasty star and his comments will greet each other with the peace of Christ and sing silent night together. And the light continues to shine.

    December 19, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
    • lol??

      A prime example of a socie woman. Better have deep pockets.

      December 19, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
      • Akira

        Do you hate everyone?

        December 19, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
  5. Mike

    Why should it be any surprise that a pastor would defend these religious-nuts? Like nut, like nut.

    December 19, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
  6. Kenny Smith

    I thank God for Men like Phil. The world needs more men fathers , Real God Fearing Men like this.He wasnt judging, He was expressing his First Amendment Right, and His Godgiven right. When things hit home to people its because its the conviction that God Himself has placed on a person . There was a time in my life when God showed me where I needed guidence. God loving people like Phil prayed on my behave. Thank you for your stand Mr. Phil. Let us learn to love and pray for those who God sends us to pray for. May God go with you and your family. Kenny Smith

    December 19, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      We can thank men like Phil and yourself, Kenny, for God who, conveniently enough, agrees with you regarding what is right and wrong with people who aren't like yourselves.

      December 19, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
  7. vinster76

    well, I must say it has been enlightening to say the least, to watch the excoriation of a man simply expressing his opinion.......Tolerance is definitely not in vogue today. By the way I will leave you with one thought. A VERY well known cable tv anchor visited this area recently to host an event sponsored by GLAAD, and some LGBT group in said area. It was publicized in print and in the media. Only 200 people showed up........Out of many, many thousands – 200 showed up......I guess the rest of the citizenry who couldn't take the time to arrive, were just a bunch of bigots........oh well, the wife is in the shower, and she is giving me the look......Come back on here tomorrow, and I will tell you how it turned out.......ciao

    December 19, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
    • Akira

      Again, you are not being forced to accept. You are being prevented from harming.

      If you profess to be Christian, act in a Christ- like manner.

      December 19, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
    • Observer

      vinster76,

      Is your wife male or female?

      December 19, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
  8. Sarah Waits

    So what? Homosexuality and hard addictions and pedophilia and obscenely violent habits may all be equally evil in God's sight. But who is this God anyway and why should anyone care?

    December 19, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • bostontola

      This same God is ok with slavery, subjugation of women, punishment of innocent people, etc. The bible requires an unacceptable set of morals, it should be rejected.

      December 19, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • Robert Constant

      Daar Sarah. God is a little Jewish Guy who lived two thousand years ago. They crucified him and put him in a tomb. Three days later he awoke from his death, pushed back the stone of the tomb, went outside, saw his shadow, and that meant there would be six more weeks of winter. I think it was something like that.

      December 19, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
  9. toekneebear

    If a man is asked a question and he answers honestly and his views are what the holy bible teaches HOW IS HE WRONG.
    I saw a gay man from GLADD in a interview say Phil Robertson Needs to get in line. I belive A&E made a big mistake and the outrage by GLADD will set the gay agenda back 20 years. Gays want to force people to accept there views and life style and for most people it just aint logical. I for one was one willing to go along with some sort of civil union but now I will not support any gay proposales.

    December 19, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      And believers don't "want to force people to accept there views and life style"; isn't that what this is about – a born-again christian telling others how to live and making the phoney "slippery slope" argument.

      December 19, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
    • Akira

      You are not being forced to accept. You are being prevented from harming.

      Oh, and many of us backing the gay community are not gay. We're just human.

      December 19, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
      • lol??

        Women are natural born socies. The Frankfurt School used this to promote so called positive hopey changey.

        December 19, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
        • Akira

          Women are naturally empathetic. Something you know nothing about.

          Stay out of the way, misogynist.

          December 19, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
        • lol??

          We all know the stereotype: Women are better than men at taking other people’s perspectives, feeling their pain, and experiencing compassion for them. Surveys of men and women suggest there’s some truth to that assumption. But it’s not clear if women’s empathy is the result of nature or nurture.
          http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/women_more_empathic_than_men
          Paul was smarter than you. Older women are supposed to teach the younger to love their hubbies and the children.

          Tts 2:4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

          December 19, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
    • Robert Constant

      The Bible makes it clear the Earth is Flat and the Earth and not the Sun is the center of the Solar System. What sod o you think about that?

      December 19, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
    • bostontola

      I recommend that you take a class in US Govt. The Consti.tution protects minorities from majorities. Gays are exercising their rights as a minority to challenge what they view as discriminatory positions. Courts will rule on it. It doesn't matter one whit what the bible says, only how the court rules.

      December 19, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
      • lol??

        Appeal to law. Worked out swell for the not-a-jews and 60 mil destroyed families.

        December 19, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
  10. AvdBerg

    For a better understanding of the issue of 'Hom-ose-ulity and Same–ex Marriage' we invite you to read the same on the Current Events page of our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    All of the other pages and articles as explain how this whole world has been deceived as confirmed in Revelation 12:9.

    December 19, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • Shirley

      Spam alert.

      December 19, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
      • JJ

        Duh!

        December 19, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
  11. JJ

    I think Evangelical Christians watch "reality" (dumbed down) TV more than anyone so he was just speaking to his base.

    December 19, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
  12. bostontola

    Christians, proudly represented by Phil Robertson.

    The bibles are clear when it comes to morality issues like slavery, ho.mose.xuality, justice, etc. The position in the bibles is outdated and unacceptable today.

    The bible is flat out factually wrong in many places, but its bread and butter is supposed to be morality where it fails miserably.

    December 19, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
  13. 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 8:45 pm |
    • Shirley

      Corporations are people. Be careful what you ask for, GOTP tool.

      December 19, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
  14. vinster76

    don't call it natural, and stop hating people who express their opinion in this way. If they are not hating you, but are simply expressing disagreement with the unnatural behavior, just deal with it.......THAT is tolerance.

    December 19, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • Shirley

      Yo, vinster, how old were you when you "chose" to be hetero??

      December 19, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
      • Joey

        Exactly!

        December 19, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Sorry Vinnie. Science has pretty well proven that homosexuality is natural. You don't get a free pass to discriminate just because it makes you uncomfortable.

      December 19, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
      • vinster76

        sorry Talullah, you don't get to pick and choose which "science" to justify it........If it were universally held to be normal, we would be aware of it, textbooks would be re-written with said "science", and the whole world would be down widdit.......Don't accuse me of discrimination because I refuse to acknowledge, or acquiesce to your wish to be rid of my belief that it is unnatural.......It just kills me, you people are ok with anything, and anybody who agrees with you across the board about any subject under the sun. You feign tolerance, and spout off it about it ad nauseum so long as everyone agrees with you. First second they don't ascribe to your every whim, they are referred to as bigots, and discriminators.....gotta love that about your ilk, there is nothing tolerant about you.

        December 19, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
        • doug

          Define bigotry. Or, just look in the mirror. You are the definition.

          December 19, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
        • Observer

          vinster76,

          Skip all the HYPOCRISY. When heteros no longer engage in "unnatural" activities, then you will BEGIN to have some credibility.

          December 19, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      Wow, you seemed to be missing the century we reside in...the one where information based on numerous studies says you're wrong.

      December 19, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
  15. Vic

    Well, I was going to say something fair next but it seems I can't get to it.

    [
    Vic
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Can anyone see to this?!

    [
    Vic
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Wonderful!

    [
    Vic
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Oh..great!

    [
    Vic
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    I don't know about this one but people bash Jesus Christ and Christians all the time!

    December 19, 2013 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    ]

    December 19, 2013 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    ]

    December 19, 2013 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    ]

    December 19, 2013 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    ]

    December 19, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
    • Shirley

      Probably your indiscriminate overuse of italics.

      December 19, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
      • JJ

        Right...or he keeps using a word that has "tit" in it somewhere like constitution. We all know that CNN views these horrible three letters as most vile.

        December 19, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
    • Seer

      Some elderly women have found a great new past time with the 'report abuse' link and are using it to their advantage.

      December 19, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
  16. H0m0ph0bic-Fear!

    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 8:29 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Logical fallacy – appeal to an alleged, unproven authority.

      December 19, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
      • H0m0ph0bic-Fear!

        IDo you claim your beliefs and arguments are 100% logical, and not susceptible to fallacy?
        If you do, that is arrogance. If you admit they are flawed, imperfect and not capable of being completely logical, that is honesty.
        (All human beings are flawed, imperfect and not capable of being completely logical, right???)

        December 19, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          I readily admit that not everything I believe is necessarily true. I do not claim no gods exist. I merely claim there is no evidence for any and therefore see no reason to behave as if there is.

          Why do you make statements about gods as if they exist for certain? Are you pretending to know things you don't?

          December 19, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
        • H0m0ph0bic-Fear!

          I believe God exists! Honest. If I didn't I would be an atheist. Or maybe Buddhist. Who knows. But I believe in Jesus Christ. And I trust in God. I am agnostic about things, but when I put my faith in Jesus Christ the evidence in my life overwhelmingly points to God.

          December 19, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
  17. Miss TV

    I hate all reality TV

    December 19, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • Robert Constant

      TV rots the brain. What used to be the NEWS is now the PROPAGANDA. You can watch Fox heavy or Fox Light (CNN).
      Interviewers ask questions based on the formula, "Does your mother know you beat your wife?"
      The News is controlled in insidious ways. Stories beneficial to the political bias of those controlling the station are featured on prime time and run repeatedly. Stories detrimental to the political slant of the station run off peak, fewer times and disappear quickly. These are just a few examples. There are so many more, but it is depressing to consider them.

      December 19, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
  18. ak

    This is outragous! Why didn't a/e edit it if they were going to suspend him over it .you would think after how many season you would know someone the producers know the cast.A/E exploits this whole some family then punishes him for who he is and what he believes. DUCK DYNASTY IS THE BEST DAMN SHOW THEY HAVE.

    December 19, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      A&E couldn't control what he said to a magazine reporter...guess you missed that part!

      December 19, 2013 at 8:29 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 8:48 pm |
        • Shirley

          Are you dim? Corporations are people according to your beloved GOTP. See who you went to bed with??

          December 19, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
        • truthprevails1

          Are you on the nurses computer again? Time to go locate her and get your nighty-night injection.

          December 19, 2013 at 8:53 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.