A Beard's Eye View of Intolerance
A&E wanted a reality show. Trouble is, they weren't ready for the realities that came with it. Anyone who's watched "Duck Dynasty" (and there are close to 90 million of you) knows the Robertson family stands unapologetically for Christ. And if they didn't know, they found out in May, when patriarch Phil Robertson told the network, "God and guns are part of our everyday lives [and] to remove either of them from the show is unacceptable."
For four years, "Duck Dynasty" has been a lifeline to Americans tired of television's steady diet of liberal propaganda. In an industry trying to out-sleaze the competition, the Robertsons had a different formula for success: speaking and living the truth. It's a decision too many Americans have been afraid to make in our culture of political correctness. That all changed with this show, when the Robertsons gave viewers the courage to make the right choice.
Today, that courage has never been more essential, as a group of extremists set out to destroy "Duck Dynasty" -- and with it, the family's powerful platform for faith. This morning, the internet was bursting with stories on Phil's marriage comments -- which, for all the hysteria, could have been boiled down to this: Christian Believes What the Bible Says. Apparently, it's headline news these days to actually embrace the teachings of your religion. In the GQ interview that kicked off the controversy, the family patriarch was blunt about his support for natural marriage and used the book of Corinthians to explain it: "Don't be deceived," he said. "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."
Of course, the millions of people tuning in to "Duck Dynasty" would find Phil's comments completely consistent with the values they expect from the Robertsons. The reason the Robertsons and others have come under attack for speaking openly about biblical truth is because too many Christians have been intimidated into silence by the cultural elite and vocal homosexual activists. And the evidence suggests the Left wants to keep it that way. Anxious to keep the liberal bullies at bay, A&E's knee-jerk reaction was to drop Phil from the show."His personal views in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely."
In case Americans missed it in the firing of Craig James, the suspension of Dr. Angela McCaskill, and the persecution of wedding vendors across the country, these are the totalitarian tactics of the Left. Phil spoke directly from Scripture and said -- not only what most people believe -- but what's obvious from nature and common sense. But these activists are so afraid of the truth that they'll do anything to silence it -- including becoming an enemy of the very freedom they claim to champion. "I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment," Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) said. "It is a messed up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended."
The Left knows that if it can intimidate the Robertsons, stars of the most popular cable show in TV history, no one will dare challenge the lies liberals are spreading in our schools, the media, our public policy, and even in some churches. Unlike other attacks, this one gets to the heart of the debate, which is the freedom of Americans to articulate biblical principles on any issue. In this brave new world of selective tolerance, have Christians lost the right to quote from the Bible? If so, then there's a clear double standard at work.
GLAAD, the same rabidly pro-homosexual group targeting Phil Robertson, didn't seem to mind when extremist Dan Savage cursed at Christian teens during a high school journalism session. In fact, six months later, GLAAD gave him an award. Yet when the Robertsons, who don't have a hateful bone in their bodies, express their sincerely held religious beliefs, it's grounds for suspension. "Phil and his family claim to be Christian," the organization said, "but Phil's lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe."
In the end, this is about a lot more than A&E's hit show. It's about who we're going to let define Christianity: GLAAD or the Bible? Despite the criticism, Phil has been unbending. "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." The Left can hunt these hunters, but if they think they can intimidate this family, they've got another thing coming. By taking on Duck Dynasty, they're "taking on all of us," Sarah Palin warned. So far, she's right. Thousands of people are racing to the Robertsons' defense. You can too! Click over to FRC's petition and take your Duck Stand.
Dashing through the Gitmo...
Cuba isn't exactly a bastion of religious freedom -- and some of that intolerance seems to have seeped into the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo. There, two harmless nativities in the installation's dining halls have become high value targets of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). After a group of service members allegedly contacted MRFF, Mikey Weinstein's group made moving the display priority number one. Claiming the base's objectors were "terrified" to talk to their superiors, MRFF took up the cause for them -- demanding that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus find a new home at the base's chapel.
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen insists the Defense Department works "to ensure that all service members are free to exercise their constitutional right to practice their religion -- in a manner that is respectful of other individuals' rights to follow their own belief systems; and in ways that are conducive to good order and discipline; and that do not detract from accomplishing the military mission." Apparently, the manger must have threatened the base's mission, because Guantanamo's commander ordered the scene moved to the chapel's courtyard. Although Weinstein is celebrating the "victory," the commander refused to bow to MRFF's real objective: removing the nativity altogether.
Decisions like this one only further President Obama's radical goal of confining religious liberty to the boundaries of the church. The President's narrow "freedom of worship" versus the freedom of religion, would have us pack up our Christian symbols, our biblical beliefs, and our free speech, and stash them in the church -- before they haul it off completely. This is a profound abandonment of the principles of our founding and the practice of religious liberty they made possible.
** The hot topic of the day was religious liberty -- not just with "Duck Dynasty" -- but with our own Ken Klukowski, who led a lecture on the topic in our own media center. Check out the video below.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.