A Dynasty America Can Live With (And Be Proud Of)
I’ve been trying to keep up with the Duck Dynasty saga over the last week, not an easy task. Last Friday when I was writing my own commentary on the incident I was also having conversations on social media with people about what I thought would happen. (You can read my commentary here or here.)
In my conversations I mentioned that I thought this was the biggest mistake a cable network has ever made. A&E decided to cater to a small group of people that don’t even watch their network and offend the 15 million viewers making them a ton of money. I’m no cable network exec, but if making decisions like this is what it takes to be one, I can start today.
Additionally, A&E has already wrapped up filming the last 10 episodes of season 4 before this flap started and has no plans to scrap any of those episodes. So guess who will be in those episodes starting January 15th? That’s right, Duck Commander Phil Robertson.
What this told me was that A&E was making a political statement in trying to fire Robertson from his own show. It’s a well known fact that A&E has sought to reign in the religious expression of the Robertsons and they saw this as yet another opportunity. Oops…the guy that had this idea will be fired soon. This epic backfire will make network history.
Many commentators made the point that Duck Dynasty doesn’t need A&E, A&E needs Duck Dynasty. Without their number one show A&E will disappear into ratings purgatory with no hope of release. We all knew networks would line up to invite the Robertsons to join their network and that’s exactly what happened. I posited that once other networks started calling, A&E would find some way to back down without appearing to back down in order to keep their cash cow. (So far The Blaze, Daystar, Hunt Channel, and Pursuit Channel have all invited Duck Dynasty to join them.)
I had no doubt that once A&E realized the Robertsons don’t care about fame and fortune near as much as they care about faith and family, the network would lose any perceived leverage and find a way to make all this go away. One recent reports that A&E has decided to wait until after Christmas to even begin talking about the situation with the Robertsons, but that they plan to move forward with the show. They said:
“There’s no negotiation to have, we’re doing the show. We’ll figure out a solution. It’s just not going to happen over night. Everybody will take a break for the holidays and regroup afterward. That’s probably the smartest thing to everyone to do. Time heals a lot of wounds.”
In other words, A&E is now really embarrassed and desperately trying to keep the most popular reality show of all time on their network. To do this, they will hope it all “blows over” over Christmas and that they can quietly continue filming like nothing ever happened.
But something did happen. And hundreds of thousands of Americans made it very clear that what happened was wrong. The idea that someone could be fired for sharing their personal views when asked is absurd. Many have noted that Gay advocates want Robertson fired for his beliefs, but don’t think a Christian school or business should be allowed to fire someone for being homosexual even though it violates the faith of the employer. That is antithetical and hypocritical at best; tyranny at worst.
The way to have discussions about tough issues is not to silence one side or beat them into submission, yet that seems to be the current tactics of gay advocates. I read a very good article on this very topic about “How I Wish the Homosexuality Debate Would Go.” It is a fictitious dialogue between a host and a Christian on the subject of sin. I think it is sort of what Phil Robertson was trying to say in his remarks that sparked this debate. I also believe it is what nearly every Christian would say is a very accurate portrayal of their beliefs and attitude on the subject.
The fact of the matter is that Phil Robertson explained the biblical position on sin without error. He explained that we are all sinners in need of a Savior; including himself. He explained that all sin, sexual sin, drunkenness, lying, and greed needs a Savior. But that God loves all people and stands ready to forgive if someone’s asks. He also explained that he loves people so much that he is willing to tell them the truth. He recently said:
“I have been immoral, drunk, high. I ran with the wicked people for 28 years and I have run with the Jesus people since and the contrast is astounding. I tell people, ‘You are a sinner, we all are. Do you want to hear my story before I give you the bottom line on your story?’”
The fact of the matter is that this should be the testimony of every Christian on the planet: “You’re a sinner, so am I. I have been saved by grace, so can you.” The Gospel, boiled down, is really that simple. While others try to push narratives and focus on emotions, the Gospel is black and white. Robertson is making that clear with his comments. He can give someone “the bottom line on your story” because the bottom line is the same for all people. Regardless of your circumstances or past, if you don’t know Jesus as your Savior, you have one future: an eternity in hell.
What I am sure A&E thought would be a shining moment for them has turned into a disaster. They no doubt thought sponsors would run and embolden their position. With the exception of Cracker Barrel, not one sponsor has even flinched. And, when Cracker Barrel realized what a mistake they made, they reversed their decision.
Initially Cracker Barrel decided to pull their Duck Dynasty merchandise from their stores. I guess they didn’t realize that their base of customers were gun-toting, God-fearing folks like the Robertons. It took only two days for Cracker Barrel to reverse their decision after being inundated with people vowing never to step foot in their restaurant unless they reversed the decision. To their credit, Cracker Barrel apologized, saying:
“When we made the decision to remove and evaluate certain Duck Dynasty items, we offended many of our loyal customers. Our intent was to avoid offending, but that’s just what we’ve done. You told us we made a mistake. And, you weren’t shy about it. You wrote, you called and you took to social media to express your thoughts and feelings. You flat out told us we were wrong. We listened…”
And the group that started it all, GLAAD, says it has never had the volume of backlash from people that it has experienced as a result of this incident.
One of the biggest takeaways for me from this whole incident is that people are talking. People who otherwise are silent have been exposed to just how dangerous silence can be, and they are now talking. I’m a fan of talking. I especially like to talk with people that don’t agree with me in order to gain perspective. It doesn’t mean I will change my thinking, but civil discourse is vital to this country.
I am thankful for the Robertson family and their bold stand for their faith. Phil, Willie, Jase, and Si have spoken at churches, conferences, and events and never backed down from their convictions. Frankly, I hope more Christians will do the same while showing the kind of love for people exemplified by the Robertsons. If more Christians refused to back down, as Phil has done, the Gospel would go forth in greater ways by people showing true love for others.
An article roundup has been posted below.