Faith

My Thoughts on Duck Dynasty, Religious Persecution, and Made-Up Controversies

The news about A&E suspending Phil Robertson is all over my FB newsfeed. I’m sure when I go to WalMart later today, the amount of people wearing Duck Dynasty clothing or buying Duck Dynasty products in a show of support will be camo-overload for my fashion-loving brain! I’m sure ratings will soar. Well played, A&E, well played.

As I think about this latest media-inspired controversy, I have various thoughts rolling in my brain. I’m going to dump them all out here in this space. And it may not be eloquent. Fair warning.

A&E is not stupid. They know what pays their bills. Duck Dynasty is the biggest thing to happen to A&E in a long time, maybe in forever. But A&E also doesn’t want to be associated with offending another large subset of its market, those who are gay or love and support people who are. So A&E executives met and came up with a genius strategy. They would “suspend” Phil Robertson. Of course, Phil Robertson is already featured in episodes for next season, which has already been filmed. And they’re still going to air those, probably to greater viewership now than ever before, because of this media-inspired controversy. So for A&E this is a win-win, in a way. Their “suspension” of Phil Robertson pays lip service to the gay community AND rallies support for its highest rated show and biggest moneymaker. And though Duck Dynasty fans might boycott A&E’s other shows, they will still tune in to Duck Dynasty. All the while, the gay community may decide to tune in to other A&E shows to thank them for standing up for the gays.

Double Standard. There are Christian organizations whose entire aim is to get certain television shows off the air. Some paid employee watches television shows and counts bad words or sexual innuendos or homosexual characters and then spreads the word to donors about which shows are most offensive to Christians. And then one million moms boycott advertisers and lambaste them in email messages until advertisers pull out and the shows get cancelled. There are people who have made this their life mission. To get television shows they find offensive off the air. And now the shoe is on the other foot. And some conservative Christians don’t like that one bit.

Christians, can we stop for a minute and think about why it’s important to protect the rights of minority groups and the oppressed? Even if we don’t agree with those minority groups. Forget for a minute the whole moral issue of love and doing unto others what we want done to us. Think pragmatically. One day, you yourself might be the minority group and the oppressed. And if policies are in place to protect the freedoms and rights of the oppressed, you will benefit from that. Sadly, though, for many years the moral majority of conservative Christians has worked hard to force their preferences on the entire country, to squelch the voices and freedom of speech of those they find offensive. And now the tables are starting to turn.

I am a fan of free speech. I think Phil Robertson has every right to tell GQ magazine what his beliefs are, even if those beliefs offend some people. And it’s not like anyone should be surprised. I’ve seen the show exactly one time, but I know that the Robertsons are outspoken about being conservative Christians. Really? Are we shocked he believes homosexuality is a sin? Was anyone in an A&E boardroom flabbergasted by this?

But let’s talk real oppression. In response to this story, about a very rich man who stars in an over-produced, sorta-reality show, I’ve seen some Christians post things like, “Christians are losing all their rights in this country!”

Really? Seriously? This comment is so obviously made by people with a teeny-tiny, self-centered view of the world. I really don’t know any other way to say it. Do you know that there are Christians in jail right now in some parts of the world? That in some countries, it is illegal to talk about Jesus or try to “proselytize” people by telling them the Gospel? Do you understand that in some countries Christians are beaten or killed because they refuse to denounce Jesus? And some man who is making a lot of money and has become an instant celebrity on a television show is “suspended” from that show (whatever the heck that even means!) and you’re calling that oppression of all Christians? This is about a television network and its advertisers and making money. This is not about the government oppressing Christians. This is not real persecution.

And speaking of that, why don’t I see a flood of Facebook posts about real, actual persecution of Christians around the world on a daily basis? You know, Christians who have lost more important rights than the right to be on cable TV. Can we please get some perspective?

Stop playing into the hand of the media! The media invents scandals and controversy because that is what draws viewers or readers. That is what goes viral. (Yes, I realize the irony of writing a whole blog post about this subject and then saying, Stop with the hype.) But most people are getting upset because they are told to be upset. There is no media oppression of Christians. For the love! There is no war on Christmas either!

I refuse to get caught up in hype. I guard myself against double standards. I want to treat others the way I myself want to be treated. I want to do justly and love mercy and walk humbly with my God. I want to channel my righteous indignation in the direction of actual travesties in the world.

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11 thoughts on “My Thoughts on Duck Dynasty, Religious Persecution, and Made-Up Controversies

  1. Yep. It’s all about money. Phil was expendable. Willie, Jase, Uncle Si, and the rest of the duck dinasty cast will carry the show. Ultimately, it dosn’t matter. I’m still going to watch Duck Dynasty as are millions of others around the country. Maybe the show will pick up a few viewers, maybe not.

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  2. I think it’s unfair to say that this is not “real persecution”. I’m sure the Robertson family (our brothers and sisters in Christ) feel like they are being persecuted. No, they aren’t being killed for their beliefs. But that does not mean they aren’t experiencing loss and devastation and looking to the Lord for answers and feeling like the world is against them. Persecution.

    Nevertheless, thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  3. I applaude your wisdom and I’m so very sorry it took a non-topic such as this to bring it to light. I hope that you won’t be forced to speak to future time-wasting topics, but I’m sure they’ll keep popping up. Thank you for your well constructed and intelligent words! This is one of the most well worded arguements I’ve seen on such issues.

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  4. This was a very well written blog and it made a lot of good points that I agree with. However, I think this whole Phil Robertson thing was just the icing on the cake for Christians. Over the past 5 years the current administration has made it very clear that they don’t stand behind the Christian values this country was founded on and that is very sad. We have an administration in power now who backs Islam and shuns Christianity and wants to force Christians to buy into a healthcare plan that makes paying for abortions mandatory which goes against their personal beliefs. Christians are slowly being oppressed in this country, not nearly to the extent of other Christians in the world, but that too will come if Americans don’t wake up! Even though many may see this Phil Robertson thing as unrelated to the other issues I’ve mentioned it does show just another lack of regard for the freedoms this country was founded on, whether for a publicity stunt or not. I in no way hate gays and I believe they should be treated with the same respect and have the same rights as anybody else. I try to live my life by the philosophy Love God, Love People. I in no way am trying to start an argument I just felt this blog warranted an explanation from a Christian perspective.

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  5. I totally agree except for the part about Christians lobbying to get shows off the air being the same…to my knowledge there was no ongoing gay lobby to get Duck Dynasty off the air. The main question raised by the public was whether Phil’s religious freedoms were violated by his employer following this one interview (which I don’t think they were, but that’s the question anyway). In America we do have a right to lobby and boycott when a company’s publicly-held beliefs collide with our own belief system. That extends to all groups whether I personally agree with them or not, so no I don’t perceive this situation as the shoe being on the other foot. Regarding whether that lobby is effective, I think we can agree that the number of television programs conflicting with Christian beliefs on major networks continues to *far* outweigh the number of programs espousing or even meshing with them.

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  6. I agree with your call for perspective. This incident pales in comparison to what Christians experience around the world. But that is exactly the point. Many of us who call ourselves Christians are alarmed by the ease with which a group like GLAAD can pull the strings of a TV network. And the alarming thing is not that they make economic decisions about their audience, but that there is a growing group of people in this country who want to censure dissenting opinion. Yes, there have been conservative Christians who tried to reform the country through extreme measures, I never joined them. But, for some, the demands of tolerance have changed. They not only want their viewpoints to be heard, they demand that you shut up.

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    1. I understand what you are saying. For many years, though, it was conservative Christians trying to quiet those who offended our morals. There are still groups whose main goal is to do this. Just this fall, I listened to a representative for One Million Moms take credit for and rejoice over getting specific television shows off the air. But it’s not just that. How many homosexual people have lived in fear of losing their jobs if they spoke truthfully about their sexual orientation? Or how many have been beaten or killed because of their homosexuality? And how many Christians have this same alarm about free speech when One Million Moms or the American Family Association get TV shows pulled off the air? How many Christians have been angered that homosexuals have felt persecuted? There is a double standard when Christians get all up in arms about our own rights, but we’re not willing to get as upset about other people’s rights, when we actively work to restrict other people’s freedoms. Loving other people as we love ourselves means we must get rid of this double standard. And, honestly, I think we are reaping exactly what we’ve sown. We’ve sown intolerance and this whole idea of shutting up the “opposition,” and that is coming back to bite conservative Christianity in the behind.

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