Faith Driven Consumer, an organization with a goal of connecting Christian consumers with “faith-compatible” companies, has launched a petition drive calling for A&E to reinstate Phil Robertson after he was suspended from “Duck Dynasty” on Wednesday for making anti-gay comments in an interview with GQ.
The org’s IStandWithPhil.com petition has so far drawn more than 2,000 signatures.
“Simply put, Phil Robertson is being censored and punished for quoting the Bible, and A&E’s treatment of him is punitive and highly discriminatory,” Chris Stone, the org’s founder, said in a statement. “Everyday people will not stand for this, they know bullying and violation of religious freedom when they see it. A&E’s actions are censoring Faith Driven Consumers and eliminating them from an entertainment choice that they have overwhelmingly supported.”
The petition also asks that A&E “formally apologize” to Robertson.
The org noted the huge ratings of “Duck Dynasty” and the extensive product tie-ins to the show.
The backlash to Robertson’s comments provoked a backlash to the backlash, with Sarah Palin weighing in soon after his suspension by tweeting, “Free speech is an endangered species; those ‘intolerants’ hatin’ & taking on Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing personal opinion take on us all.”
The governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, also weighed in on Thursday morning, releasing a statement in which he said “I remember when the TV networks believed in the First Amendment.”
“It is a messed up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended,” he said, referring to Cyrus’ appearance on the MTV Music Video Awards.
“Phil Robertson and his family are great citizens of the State of Louisiana,” Jindal said.” The politically correct crowd is tolerant of all viewpoints, except those they disagree with.”
The controversy over Robertson’s comments triggered an immediate rebuke from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, followed by A&E’s announcement on Thursday afternoon that the patriarch of the hit reality series was being put on indefinite suspension.
After A&E’s announcement, GLAAD spokesman Wilson Cruz said in a statement, What’s clear is that such hateful anti-gay comments are unacceptable to fans, viewers, and networks alike. By taking quick action and removing Robertson from future filming, A&E has sent a strong message that discrimination is neither a Christian nor an American value.”
The reaction to Robertson’s comments had the ingredients of a Chick-fil-A-like controversy, in which LGBT orgs protested the comments made by its CEO, Dan Cathy, followed by a campaign by social conservatives to support the restaurant chain.
While some critics of A&E’s move are citing the First Amendment, that protection prevents the government from regulating speech, not private corporations. Several weeks ago, Alec Baldwin was suspended from his show on MSNBC, after making an anti-gay epithet at a New York Post photographer. His show was later canceled.
Meanwhile, drawing less attention that the “Duck Dynasty” controversy was an announcement by Bob Newhart that he was cancelling a planned appearance before Catholic org Legatus, which GLAAD and other orgs said had an anti-gay agenda. The appearance at summit in Orlando, Fla., had been planned for Feb. 6.