Thursday, May 08, 2014

TBT: GLAAD vs. Phil Robertson

NOTE: I wrote this late last year during the Phil Robertson fiasco. The length grew and grew as the controversy grew. I finally had to stop, but never published it until now. People have moved on, but the principles remain true. 

The only thing I hate worse than arguments are when people resort to name-calling and untruths in their argument. I tend to avoid such “discussions” since my words are so often twisted and ignored. Disrespect, slander, and hatred have no place in a civilized, intelligent discussion.

I am a sinner, far from perfect – but forgiven by God’s grace and saved by the blood of Jesus. I am no better than anyone else. In fact, I should offer myself in love as a servant to those around me. More often than not I fail at this, though God forgives me. 

For some reason I feel the need to be understood. Most could care less. Even when I shouldn’t, I want to explain things. This can get me into trouble, since my writing and other communication skills are far from clear and concise. Even if I dot every i and cross every T, I expose myself for debate, hatred, or worse. What takes someone a lifetime to build can be torn down in a second by a simple vile comment. Love is so much harder, but it is so superior.

Despite what you may see on social media, I am not the most outgoing person. I do have friends, co-workers, and family members of many different races, religions, and sexual orientations. I may not agree with them, but I do my best to love them as people. I know that large organizations, be it the Southern Baptist Convention or the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), may not represent the views and opinions of every seemingly affiliated individual.

I was late to the Duck Dynasty phenomenon, but quickly immersed myself into all things Robertson. I’ve watched most of the episodes multiple times, checked out Robertson Twitter accounts, read articles in numerous publications. Read Willie and Korie’s book about the family, and Phil’s autobiography “Happy Happy Happy”. I’d like to think I’ve developed a general working knowledge of the family and the Duck Commander company.

For those who don’t know him, father Phil earned a masters degree in education but wasted away most of his twenties drinking. He eventually returned to the family he had abandoned and soon thereafter began a relationship with Jesus Christ. He quickly became a voracious studier of the Bible, a practice he has continued to this day. While Phil created the most realistic duck call on the market, only later did his son Willie turn the company into the tremendous success it became.

When Willie and Korie developed the show with A&E, Phil was surprised with its success. Like the other family members, Phil knew the show would not last forever. Phil’s focus has never been the show. He’d much rather be out in the woods hunting. To regular viewers of the show Phil’s views on the Bible and sex are quite clear. Meanwhile, A&E cut “in Jesus’ name” from family prayers (until the Robertson’s protested) and inserted bleeps to infer Robertson men cussing (they weren’t).

Phil’s comments published in the GQ interview were in line with what he has said on the show. The words may have been coarse, but they were clearly a paraphrase of Colossians 2: 9-10.

In a statement GLAAD objected, saying “Phil’s lies (paraphrasing the Bible verse) about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe.” So GLAAD purports that true Christians do not believe the Bible. Strong words. In the days since this statement many in the media took GLAAD to task for their unyielding stance. GLAAD demanded that Phil should sit down with gay families to learn about the values they share, GLAAD had no intention of meeting with the Christians they persecute.

A&N suspended Phil from the show, saying his comments were not shared by the Duck Dynasty show. Perhaps A&E meant the producers and staff, as quite obviously the Robertson family shared his views. The Robertsons quickly confirmed this publicly, standing with Phil even if it meant ending the show. Later A&E reversed its stance, without mentioning that 11 of the 12 new shows are already complete – and include Phil.

The controversy saturated social media. Friends weighed in on both sides, sharing many blogs and articles. I read many, but eventually grew weary and stopped. A participant in one Facebook discussion complimented the posters on the civil discussion, and then blasted the poster of the following link a scant 11 minutes after it was posted. Was that enough time to notice, read, and comprehend the article?

The Patheos article asks questions of the “best/fair” CNN editorial, saying it’s not only Evangelicals (25% of the US population) who tend to take the verse at face value, but also Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, Pentecostals, Eastern Orthodox – and most traditional Christians around the world. Not to mention other religions like Islam (but no one mentions what Islam thinks about homosexuals).    

One CNN belief blog set up the battle between a redneck duck hunter and one Bible scholar, failing to mention that the Bible scholar represented one of the most liberal dominations. Yet the CNN Belief desk proclaimed the post to be the “best/fairest”:

Charles Clymer, a social equality advocate, wrote an open letter for Huff Post Politics to Duck Dynasty and Supporters, seemingly blaming Christians for the treatment of a girl band by the Russian government. 

Later it was revealed that A&E knew of the contents of the CQ interview before it was published. The network could have pulled the plug but chose not to. For higher ratings for the highest rated reality show ever? Or an unsuccessful effort to silence to Phil Robertson?

I am not condemning anyone for not believing or following every verse in the Bible. That is not what God put me on earth to do. He wants me to love and serve others, to spread His Word and make His Name great. Deep down, perhaps these verses make people feel guilty, and this guilt may make them lash out in anger at those who claim Christ as Savior.

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