I’ll believe what I want: And Phil Robertson can too.

When I write posts on this blog I avoid any talk about homosexuality.

I just don’t go there. You might think it’s because I’m Mormon. Or because I’m so passionate about it that I might just blow up and scribble hate speech all over the page. Not so.

The reason is actually because I have dear friends–and family–who are gay. And I love them. They’re some of the best people I know for darn sure.

But then, a situation arose that I just couldn’t brush aside. Phil Robertson was suspended from the show “Duck Dynasty” by A&E for expressing his opinion–and distaste– about homosexuality. You can read the interview here.

phil robertson

Was his opinion blunt? Sure. Was it a little coarse? Uh…yeah. Not the way I would have worded it, or you probably would have. But have you SEEN the show? It’s not exactly a walk through the daisies. These are rough-around-the-edges hunting men with their feet in swamps and their chins in dirty beards and their mouths running with witty off-the-wall comments. That’s the point of the entire show and it reflects the kind of people they are. But all of that bluntness, coarseness, and red-neckedness aside– it was his OPINION. And the last time I checked, our constitution protects that right. Right…?

As a Mormon journalist in Seattle I confront gay rights and gay movements ALL the time. I’ve written stories about it, I’ve walked right past parades in the city, I’ve sat next to people who LIVE the lifestyle. And I often get asked if it’s difficult to work in that kind of environment or face issues like that or interact with people like that who are so different than me. And the truth is, it’s not.

book of mormon

As a Mormon–actually I’ll go as far as saying as a Christian, since Phil and I have that in common–we’re called to stand true to our beliefs all while holding fast to the belief that we’re called to love. I love my gay friends for who they are–and in return, they love me for who I am. It doesn’t mean we agree on everything.

No, I don’t agree with homosexuality. There, I said it. But you could have guessed that from my religion.

Just like Phil expressed, I don’t personally feel that the practice of homosexuality is right or that it’s obedient to God’s laws. But having said that, I DO agree that everyone has rights to live in the ways in which they feel is right, even if that’s different than me. I may not agree with them, but I’ll love them. Because that’s what Christ would do.

holding hands

And just as I have the obligation to love and accept and give freedom to those who practice or agree with homosexuality–THEY have the obligation to afford that to me as well. I have the right, protected by this great country, to practice any religion I want and believe what I want and express whatever I want to say. If you get that right–then so do I. And so does Phil. Even if he does say it in a blunt kind of way or “hurts feelings”–it doesn’t matter. It’s his right to speak about what he believes–and he hasn’t committed any kind of hate crime while doing it.

opinion about gays

I’m tired of living in a society where it’s protected to speak out about gay rights and it’s socially acceptable to march in the streets with flags and voices raised in unison about marriage equality–but it isn’t acceptable to talk about God at work or to express a view contradictory to a politically correct stance or to say “Merry Christmas” because– Heaven forbid–the phrase has Christ’s name in it.

gay pride

Our country was built upon long-standing principles that protect you just as much as they protect me. If you’re Buddhist or Christian or Mormon or Athiest…if you’re supportive of the principle of homosexuality or you’re personally against it…if you’re pro-choice or pro-life…if you have a strong opinion about everything or little to no opinion at all–our constitution says you’re protected. Since when did that get so forgotten and smeared and erased that our people have become silenced?

That doesn’t sound like my country anymore.

Is it really land of the free and home of the brave…or land of the oppressed and home of the politically correct?

30 thoughts on “I’ll believe what I want: And Phil Robertson can too.

  1. This is not a freedom of speech issue. It is an issue of realistic expectations.

    I don’t disagree with the general perspective of Phil, but I condemn the cavalier way he discussed their relationships. He went miles too far in describing their sexual acts that he didn’t like or understand, and I can see how it would be offensive. I was even a little offended by his wording. That being said, I must agree that the only reason this family is on tv is because they say and do crazy things. The interviewer knew exactly what they were doing, and Phil was too naive to understand that he needed to be PC if he expects to keep a network tv job. There is no need to be as insensitive as Phil was when discussing his opinion. I don’t blame A&E for taking this response. They have to have a zero tolerance response to comments as insensitive and offensive as his or they would get sued for applying rules inequally.

    I don’t vary any from the church’s perspective which is love the person, teach against the sin. (the application of this has improved greatly over the last 5 years). They don’t do aversion therapy anymore, allow openly gay but celibate members to hold callings, and are supportive of parades and some legislation.

    Back to speech…freedom of speech isn’t that everyone likes or accepts your opinions. It isn’t that networks have to give equal air time to every special interest group. It is that we can say what we want without the fear of government reprisals. Working for A&E is not one of Phil’s constitutional rights. If he wants to ignorantly make offensive comments about gays, blacks, polygamists, latinos, etc, etc, etc, in his private life, no one in the next street, next city, or state will care. Once he has a national audience, he better learn to rephrase his conservative views in a non offensive ways or he will risk his new found job. If I said the same things he said at work, in front of bosses or customers, I would get written up. If it continued, I would get fired too.

    Lastly…realistic expectations. We are officially in the last days. Christians have enjoyed over 1 millenia of domination of western culture. We are used to everyone celebrating our holidays, allowing our public nativities, public demonstrations, public parades, our religious quotations and figures in government buildings, etc, etc. With the striking down of DOMA, we are officially not the majority anymore. No more 10 commandments over the court house, busts of moses in senate buildings, or nativity scenes on their front lawns. It is unrealistic for us to expect Christian influence to increase. It has been prophesied to be otherwise. Frankly, I don’t need most of these things anyway. I get my religious support and affiliation from my church, not my local government. I don’t need govt sponsored nativity scenes, recognition of my scriptures, prophetic figures, or anything else. I just need the govt to allow me the freedom to worship as I wish. My kids learn to pray at home and church, not at school. They can be taught by gay teachers about math and science and I will teach them about right and wrong. They can see gay parents of their friends marrying, and I can teach them about God’s standards at home. None of these changes that lesson Christianity’s influence over general society change my ability and responsibility to teach my kids truth.

    Stop being so surprised that changes in the last days make it harder to be a christian. God is doing this to weed out the unbelievers. Complaining about it won’t change anything. If we really wanted change back to Christian beliefs, we would do missionary work, not public protest. The only way to improve this negative decline is to be a tool in their conversion. This is shown time and again in the Book of Mormon. “…try the virtue of the word of god…it has more power over the hearts of men than the sword.” (Alma 31 paraphrased). Be a believer, raise your family in Christ, and share your testimony. Give the world the freedom to condemn themselves.

    1. Written just as eloquently as Kayla’s, in a different way. Everything you write is correct. Sad to say, however, are the young children who do not have a strong teaching support at home, and are moved like sheets in the wind. Having said that, thank you for your words.

      1. @Sally – “you people” seems unnecessary. I said that I don’t disagree with Phil’s perspective, just his insensitive words. He went too far in explaining his disgust for them and he even admitted as much himself. He is a blunt guy and this topic deserves some grace. Not sure what your problem is.

      2. This is far from being a freedom of speech issue. He quoted The Bible, not his opinion. Here’s the thing…we all have a right to say what we want to, quote the Bible, etc. As A&E, his employer, had the same right to terminate him. And Ol Phildidn’t sweat their decision when it was announced, he went to church and lead a prayer for a dying church member. My goodness people, preachers have been quoting the Bible on homosexuality for thousands of years. And no public outrage has ever been displayed like it has been with this bearded redneck country man who gave an interview and spoke from the Bible. I don’t feel he was “set up”. He was speaking as a Christian about his beliefs as a Christian. Lighten up.

      3. Of course this is a freedoms issue along with a common sense issue. He and his family have admitted that he doesn’t censor himself well, meaning he chooses wording that can be unecessarily offensive. Specifically, he described what about homosexual acts is distasteful to him and in his sermon he made a generic reference to a citation from Paul that discusses both homosexuality and murder, but he did a poor job of distinguishing the two. He has a habit of starting off all hellfire, brimstone, and gays are the same as murderers, but then ending with that he loves everyone and doesn’t judge. It doesn’t work that way. Either you care enough to be respectful in the first place or you don’t care. It isn’t one example, but many. He has a blindspot for how he talks about gay people. It is OK to be opinionated but equally OK to be respectful.

  2. How is saying something so mean and hateful ever okay to anyone of us that calls ourselves followers of Christ? I’m not saying you need to agree with homosexuality but being mean will get you suspended at most places of work or school. You have the right to say what you want but it doesn’t make saying it right. Just saying.

  3. Sounds good to me! The only thing I’d put differently is the phrase “pro-choice or pro-life.” As far as I’m concerned, “pro-choice” and “pro-life” are synonymous, and both the opposite of “pro-death.” But I digress. Great post!

  4. Well said. Just because I don’t agree with someone’s opinion does not mean I hate them or their choices. Tolerance is a two way street.

    Sent from my iPad


  5. Kayla, I have been reading your blog for a few weeks now…I love it. Your words express what I have felt and believed for over 60 years. I just do not have the else quench that you do. Thank you especially for this particular message. Just the other day I was sharing a joke with another woman (not even an off color joke) she laughed and told me her opinion of something related. A young woman came up to us and said “please would you not talk about that her”. The other woman I were stunned speachless. Anyway this post is just to say your words on all of the topics on your blog are eloquent and in my opinion ‘right on!’ Thank YOU

  6. Our constitution protects that right. And it did, by not arresting Phil after his comments. But it doesn’t not have any power over what A&E decides to do with their network.
    But that aside, I think you made a good point.

  7. For what it’s worth, I don’t get the impression that Phil Robertson is worried about whether or not he keeps his ‘job’ for A&E. He strikes me as a man that never worried about making Duck Commander as big as it has become, and probably wasn’t the one pushing the family to become Duck Dynasty, though I wholeheartedly believe he sees it as an opportunity to do more that he can bringing the message of Christ to as many people as possible.

    Additionally, not every Christian needs to be PC or walk on eggshells when discussing their opinion on difficult/disruptive topics. There are many people that have responded to the message of Christ _because_ the person preaching it wasn’t PC. Do not forget that Jesus wasn’t very kind to the Pharisees and their legalistic ways, nor to the money changes operating in the temple when he flipped their tables. If Phil did wrong in the eyes of God, God will correct him; it’s not our job as Christians to judge him as having done something wrong. There are all shapes and sizes of Christians just like there are of every culture of human being.

    Lastly, our constitutionally protected right to freedom of speech and expression absolutely should go beyond protection from government oppression. Maybe in a court of law that’s all it means, but to the average American it should mean more, that’s why it’s in our constitution. Phil was speaking as himself, not as a representative of A&E. He did not claim to hold the beliefs of A&E, nor they his. A&E should have made the choice to simply express their belief and explain the separation between their differing beliefs. They could even cancel the show. That’s fully within their rights. But to indefinitely suspend a central person in the show and put the onus on the family to make the hard decision is just cheap. All they are trying to do is put the Robertson family in a difficult place contractually, rather than doing the right thing by sharing their differing beliefs or canceling the show altogether.

    1. I agree about Phil not caring…he has boatloads of $, is his own boss, doesn’t need the show, and doesn’t care about others’ opinions.
      When it comes to Jesus’ treatment of the pharisees/moneychangers, we don’t have any permission to act like that. He is God and knows exactly what the correct response is. In the OT, God directed the Israelites to slaughter heathen nations, but that doesn’t mean we can do that now. Our mandate is to love God and our fellow man. Judge the sin but not the sinner. I think that the backlash from his comments isn’t about disagreeing with homosexuality, it is how he went on to describe what it was about their sexual acts that he found distasteful. That isn’t a matter of judging, but one of commonsense.
      Phil has a clause in his contract where he can be terminated for statements that draw bad press. It is common in Hollywood and isn’t restricted to what they say on the show. That is what happened to the songwriter for the Monday night football intro had, and what happened to that talk show host that commented about a black, female, college, athlete’s “knappy hair”. His suspension wasn’t just due to his opinion being anti gay, but that it was so graphic and insensitive. We live in a constitutional democracy, a capitalistic society, but we are filled with special interest groups, Christianity being only one of them. We love our society for its virtue of freedoms, until those freedoms work against our group. Everyone in this scenario took their constitutional freedoms and used them to their own best interest. Phil used it when voicing a controversial opinion. The LBGT community and their supporters, used their own 1st ammendment rights when they called, wrote, and/or barraged A&E over their outrage and threatened to boycott if they didn’t do something. A&E exercised their contractual right to terminate employment of an individual making bad press for them by virtue of a clause in their contract. Phil’s family is exercising their right to protest by threatening to quit in support for their patriarch. Outraged Christians are exercising their rights when we decide to stop watching A&E, hurting their bottom line. Everyone is acting based on God-given and constitutionally-outlined freedoms to their own best interest. It is exactly how the system is supposed to work. It is a perfect mixture of democracy, captialism, and survival of the fittest. I don’t have cable, so I can’t stop supporting A&E in protest, but I hope outraged Christians follow through. I suspect A&E will survive though.
      I don’t however believe that this is a single statement taken out of context. I think he believes that the LBGT are horrible people and sinners. I support this statement with his own words, http://tv.msn.com/tv/article.aspx?news=844528. He can try to throw roses on the GQ quotes, but there is no coming back from saying, “They’re full of murder, envy, strife, hatred.” There is no way this falls in line with the Christian mantra of loving the sinner and hating the sin. I won’t shed one tear when his show gets canceled and he loses public influence. Reality TV is the bane of modern entertainment, the equivalent of the train wreck you can’t look away from.

      1. I don’t disagree with much of your reply except towards the end where you very quickly cast judgment on all of reality TV. It’s not that I care that much about it, but your statements could easily be viewed as judgmental against everyone that works in reality TV, which is quite similar to the judgment being passed onto Phil Robertson.

        The only other part I’ll add is that you are assigning blame to his quote re: envy, murder, strife, etc. when in fact that is simply a paraphrase of of the last few verses of Romans 1 (1:28 or 1:29, I think), where Paul uses those exact words and more in talking about all of those that give themselves over to sin and godlessness. He may have been talking about homosexuality specifically in that context, but I fully believe he would use those same words for any person giving themselves fully into sin whether it be an alcoholic, a lover of money, a man that sleeps around, a mobster, whatever.

        If you consider yourself a Christian, it feels as though you are not giving him any grace. I didn’t mean to imply he was fully right in what he said or how he said it, I just find it’s better to extend grace and recognize that we all have our faults, than to join in with those that do not believe and are already passing enough judgment on his failure to recognize the implication of his chosen words. Nonetheless, he deserves no greater condemnation than any other believer that has good intentions, but is short sided in their use.

      2. @fusconed- I stand by my impression of reality tv and Phil’s 2010 sermon. From Simon cowl, real world, Jersey Shore, to the kardashians, reality tv for the most part had lowered our country’s IQ. I’m sure you can find 1 or 2 examples of wholesome rtv, but putting crazy people on tv just models the need of craziness for success in life.
        Phil did some back stepping after the gq backlash, tried to clarify how much he cares for the lgbt comm. But I have to consider all of his statements, not to judge him personally, but to judge what kind of influence I should let him have in my life. I can’t condone using that verse in Romans to connect Homosexuality to murder. It implies an unfair judgment and stereotyping them with qualities inherent to murderers.
        My words may lack some grace for him but no less than the grace he lacks for the lgbt. And my lack of grace is directly correlated to the words he continually uses and not stereotyping a whole group of people with qualities they don’t have. I don’t see why everyone is so enamored with him.

  8. Everytime someone says something vicious and hurtful they stand behind the constitution and freedom of speech. Being an ignorant bigot is not ok just because the constitution protects you. Gays are one of the last groups in society that people feel it is ok to destroy. If he had commented on Jews or blacks or Muslims people would tear him down but no he insulted gays so that is ok. Land if the free and ignorant yes.

    1. He commented and expressed his concern for people committing the sins of specific sins expressly mentioned by prophesy in the bible that are against mankind and morally unacceptable to God. These sins are committed each day by the expressed persons and only a part of the persons personna. We all have to face God in the end and Jesus is there for us to express our greatest argument that may get us into heaven But that said, we are bound to the word and cannot adjust or insert, except me, I am special, because it would make us feel better is we were. The sins are serious enough to be laid out spelled right and need to further explanation as far as I could tell. The gays are just more pronounced with their sin and want even us to except, except them here so they can fool us into believing they are forgiven. I am not sure about the continuation of any of these sins mentioned as being grounds for getting a direct pass access to Heaven. Are You?

      1. We both agree the sin in question is bad, but disagree how Phil has managed his comments. You think he is expressing concern for the lbgt, but I missed that in the 2010 sermon and in the gq interview. He backtracked after the backlash, but I see a common theme of him speaking one way in front of conservative Christians, and then having to justify/defend his words in front of the world because they are unnecessarily harsh. The original comments seem to be his real feelings and justification for appearances. I don’t judge him personally, but don’t trust him.

  9. Honestly, my biggest issue with Phil was his blatant DENIAL of racism. And denial I still a potent form of racism.

  10. I could not agree more with your post. I am from south Louisiana and find his statements par for the course. I would not expect anything different coming from him. Someone asked an old, backwoods (pardon the expression), southern man his opinion on homosexuality. let me repeat ‘an OLD, BACKWOODS, SOUTHERN MAN his opinion on homosexuality.’ And the entire country is up in arms about his views. I believe it is his right to say what he thinks…the whole ‘politically correct’ media truly makes me ill and is so far from the truth. And no matter if we agree with Phil or not, it is his truth that THEY asked him for. I, personally, do not agree with phil…I believe any person is a person and deserves respect, grace, love….no matter what. On top of not agreeing with his personal views on homosexuality, I also find that his response was rather blunt, rough, crass, etc. But once again…this is HIS TRUTH, HIS BELIEF, HIS OPINION. He answered in the manner that HE does. He does not censor anything to lessen the blow. I wonder if the people interviewing him expected him or thought that the readers of the interview would expect a nicely packaged (pardon the profanity) bull**** sandwich delivered to them. Phaa! As if…

    Even though I may not understand or agree with that person’s lifestyle, last I checked I am not God and I am not calling the shots. It is laughable at the controversy that arose from the interview. And personally, I believe it was pumped up or intended to make waves….for whatever reasons. And because I believe this, being the stubborn, Cajun woman that I am, I catch myself purposely opting out of programs on their channel. I have actually only watched the show maaaaaybe 3 times previous to all this hoopla. All I will say is, ‘give me a break A&E, get a life A&E, get over yourselves A&E, etc, etc….’

  11. I agree everyone had freedom of speech. I don’t agree they are rough around the edges. They all have degrees and until they decided to do this show they were all clean cut, well dressed men. The show is a show, to make money. Quoting the Bible is great as long as they quote it all. You have a better chance of getting a camel thru the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Yet, I think your writing is great and I totally agree with him being allowed to voice his feelings. And I think the whole thing from A & was to bring attention to their shows and network. Not for any thing else.

  12. When you are a public figureyou have a duty to be careful in what you say because your words can affect others. You get whack jobs like the Westborough Baptist Church or homophobes who purposely go out and beat up gays who will look at what phil said and justify their appalling actions by it by saying ” well Phil said its bad so we are acting on it”

    And you don’t think his words affect anyone? My 18 year old bisexual son who has aspergers was ridiculed in school and had his arm broken years ago because of what someone on tv said. When Phil said what he did my son tried to kill himself because he thought the world would agree with phil and he would land up injured.

    I’m all for free speech but when that free speech affects people’s lives because what you say is heard by millions of people because you’re in the public eye then you have a responsibility to watch your words and keep some opinions to yourself.

    By the way I am in the UK. So it’s even travelled over here and had cause and effect on people like my son. I am sure God would be astounded phil said what he did and that it has a detrimental affect on others.

    Bet phil doesn’t apologise to my son for the damage his words have caused. I’m back 3 years with him in rehabilitation with his depression because it’s like him being at school all over again. He’s recovered and realised that one stupid mans opinion does not reflect on others opinions and that the only opinions that truly matter are the ones of the people who love you and care about you.

  13. Phil was a little crass but he did speak truth. And if you believe the Bible- UNREPENTANT & practicing homosexuals, drunkards, fornicators, adulterers, etc….will end up in hell. Since many pastors do not preach this out of fear of losing numbers, what if, God is using this (imperfect) man to confront people in these type of sins to read the bible themselves. Maybe as a warning, to save their soul? John the baptists first message was “Repent, the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Yes, Christians are called to love 100% but did you know part of biblical love is “not rejoicing in iniquity.” ?

  14. Kayla,

    This post voices every opinion I’ve ever had about the subject of homosexuality, and done gracefully and tactfully none the less. I’m not a Mormon(I’m a Baptist actually), but by golly, everything you wrote in this post I agree with. Hopefully our country will remember it’s foundation in God sooner rather than later. I can only pray that God will move big time and turn the USA back to Him.

    God bless.


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