The suspension of “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson by the A&E Network after making controversial remarks in GQ magazine regarding homosexuality has been called a business decision. But now Douglas County Sheriff Phil Miller is making a business decision of his own.
Miller announced on his personal Facebook page Friday night that A&E would no longer be welcomed to film or produce any of its programs or series with the help of the Douglas County Sheriff's Office or its facilities.
"A&E has suspended Phil Robertson for talking about his conservative Christian beliefs," Miller wrote." None of us are without sin and I am not judging anyone. I am sure A&E made what they believe is a good business decision. Many people who disagree with A&E might choose to remain silent and there was a time when I might have done the same, but no longer. In my mind the punishment is unreasonable.
"I know it will not matter to A&E, but it will make me feel better. A&E has produced more than a half dozen programs with the assistance of the Douglas County Sheriff's Office. They will not do any more with my assistance while I am sheriff. It is time for someone other than Hollywood and the news media to stand up for what is right!"
Miller pointed out that if you look closely at what Robertson said, he was saying that he would not judge anyone. In fact, Miller said, Robertson said that he would leave that up to God and only gave his understanding of scripture.
What Robertson said, could be taken a lot of different ways. This is the passage straight from the magazine. “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there," Robertson said. "Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
Roberston tried to clarify his statements as being his beliefs.
“I myself am a product of the 60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior," Robertson was quoted as saying. "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. However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.”
A&E reacted quickly and suspended the "Duck Commander" patriarch "indefinitely," but said the shows they had already filmed with him would air. They issued this statement: “We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty. His personal views in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community.”
Miller said that was the network's prerogative, but he said he had to do what he thought was right to show how he feels.
"I guess I need to learn to keep my mouth shut too," Miller said in a phone interview Friday night. "But they are punishing a man for being honest and answering a question that he was asked. When he answered and gave his understanding, pulling from his Christian beliefs, this happens. It's not right and I had to say something about it.
"I don't hate anybody and you can ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you the same thing. But where we are in this country now, where you are punished for simply saying what your understanding of your Christian beliefs are is just too much for me."
Friday other Robertson family members released a statement saying they may not go on without Phil.
"We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right," the statement read. "We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but, as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm. We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty. Again, thank you for your continued support of our family."
Over the years A&E has filmed several shows centered here including most recently "Beyond Scared Straight," which featured the M.A.C.E. program sponsored by the DCSO.
To say that Miller's statements have caused a stir would be an understatement. As of Saturday afternoon, almost 400,000 people had viewed the story on www.douglascountysentinel.com. The story has broken the record for the most viewed story on the paper's Facebook page and is the most commented upon story ever posted to the Sentinel's website.
Miller said that getting attention wasn't his intent. He just saw something that he felt was wrong and did what he could to address it.
"Phil Robertson was talking about activities that he felt were sins in his understanding of the scripture," Miller said. "We all have sinned and so much of what is going on today is sinful. Eating too much – gluttony – is a sin. I know I am guilty of that. I know some people won't be happy with me for saying what I said, but it was the only way I knew to tell A&E that I didn't agree with them or what they did on this."
Country music star Ronnie McDowell, who was in Douglasville earlier this month for a concert, said he saw what has happening to Robertson and the stand that Miller made. He said it inspired him to write and record a song on Saturday about it all.
"After hearing all of that I woke up with a song in my head," McDowell said. "I went into the studio that day and an hour later I had it cut and the video made. It was one of those things that just hit me and I felt very strongly about."
The song, called "Let's hear it for the duck man" and video can be seen on YouTube. The link is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rBxH-Q2MFc