If you have frequented Facebook or Twitter at all in the past couple of days, you will notice that there is no small stir over Phil Robertson’s anti-homosexual statements in a recent GQ magazine interview. Not having ever watched Duck Dynasty, or ever read GQ for that matter, I went to the web and found the interview, which I read. I would like to make several observations.
First, being Red Neck is not a fruit of the Spirit. There is no merit in being crude, simply for the sake of being crude. Mr. Robertson’s comments could have been stated in a way that better becomes Christianity. There are parts of the interview that I would have been embarrassed reading aloud to my adult daughters. With the increasing emergence of political correctness in our society, Christian statesmen must remain true to Biblical values but express them in ways that are both scholarly and gentlemanly. Our words are to be with grace seasoned with salt. Some of Mr. Robertson’s words were not palatable – not because of what he said, but because of the way he said it.
Second, Mr. Robertson is entitled to both free speech and religious liberty. Many of the news pundits have been arguing that we now live in “a different America,” and this kind of hate speech cannot be tolerated. The right to speak one’s mind, however, is not conditioned on 51% of the population being in agreement. If that were true, no minority position would ever be heard. Those of the LGBT community, who are supposed champions of free speech, should support Mr. Robertson’s right to speak his mind, even though they may vehemently disagree with what he is saying. I am sure that they would be indignant if the same standard they are applying to Mr. Robertson were applied to them on Gay Pride Day.
Third, the arena in which Mr. Robertson spoke should not have any bearing upon his job security. Some in the LGBT community have argued that Mr. Robertson is entitled to his opinion, but that opinion has job consequences. The analogy has been used that a receptionist in a doctor’s office has a right to voice her opinion about a patient’s bad hygiene, but if she does so in the office to another customer, she may lose her job. Thus, Mr. Robertson has a right to say how he feels, but A & E doesn’t have to keep him employed because of it.
I would answer that many of Mr. Robertson’s religious views have already been curtailed in the “office.” A & E, for example, will not allow the prayers that conclude Duck Dynasty to be offered in Jesus’ name. But Mr. Robertson is allowed to use the name of Jesus away from the show on his personal time. In the same way, A & E has the full right to filter Mr. Robertson’s comments on the show when he is being paid by them. When, however, Mr. Robertson is off the clock, his comments, which obviously do not reflect the views of A& E, should have no bearing on this continued employment. If religious views have to mirror those of our employer in order to receive a paycheck, how many of us would be employed? Indeed, people like Bill Maher have been allowed to keep their jobs while using the “office” to bash Christian beliefs repeatedly.
And this I believe is the crux of the matter. Mr. Robertson’s views are religious, not cultural, in nature. He believes what he believes about homosexual behavior because he is a Christian committed to Biblical morality. Many of the LGBT community have branded Mr. Robertson’s comments as disparaging a minority segment of society. His comments are viewed as if he had made a racial slur against Jews or African Americans. To the Bible believing Christian, however, sodomy does not describe a cultural demographic. If it did, perhaps A & E was justified in terminating his employment. To the Christian, however, sodomy is not a cultural choice; it is a moral perversion. Mr. Robertson has a right to believe his Bible on this matter without occupational reprisal. Apparently, for all of its vaunted talk of protecting self-expression, A & E has crossed the line and terminated a man’s job because he had the courage to express his religious views publicly. For that, A & E should be ashamed.