If you have a Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc., what I am about to say is nothing new (skip the first two paragraphs), but for those who do not know what has transpired within the past week, allow me to recap. GQ Magazine interviewed the Patriarch of Duck Dynasty, Phil Robertson. In the interview, Mr. Robertson offered his candidly honest view on a number of topics, but the topic that is making the rounds is his frank views on sin and homosexuality. He bluntly said that homosexuality was a sin, and that homosexuality would lead on to other moral sins, stating: “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.” He went on to comment about America’s society, stating that everything “is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong.” He says this to show how evil “becomes fine” all of a sudden.
Naturally, his comments did not go unnoticed. GLAAD shot back at Phil Robertson’s statement saying that his comments were “some of the vilest and most extreme statements uttered against LGBT people in a mainstream publication” and that “his quote was littered with outdated stereotypes and blatant misinformation.” Some companies, such as Cracker Barrel, distanced themselves from their support of Duck Dynasty. Not too long after the remarks went public, A&E promptly released their own statement:
“We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty. 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.”
Not all reaction, however, was negative. People from all over America flocked to show their support for Phil Robertson. Hundreds of thousands of people petitioned A&E to bring Phil Robertson back, and millions of people boycotted A&E, as their ratings plummeted.
One thing that has been constantly brought up in this debate is Mr. Robertson’s first amendment rights. Granted, he has the right of free speech, but A&E also has the freedom of association under the same amendment. They have the right to do business and support whoever they want, and have the right to not show on their network that which they disagree with. This is the same issue with the bakers who refused to bake the cake for the lesbian couple. They had the right to not associate with the couple just as much as the couple had a right to declare that they were lesbians. This issue then, is not so much about anybody’s constitutional right, but about a deeper issue.
The problem here that Christians and Conservatives need to realize is that this is more than an issue of constitutional rights, but that A&E’s actions were to appease our society, which for the most part is not Christian society. This nation was founded on Judeo-Christian values, and society operated by those values until the latter half of the 20th century. Today, Christian ethics are not the authoritative influence on society. A look at today’s cultural trends will support the fact that we are in a post-Christian society. Acceptance of pornography and sex between teenagers by the current generation is significantly higher than it is in any previous generation. Sex outside of marriage, having a baby outside of marriage, and gay marriage is also accepted by over 70% of this current generation. This is unprecedented, as these issues have never been generally accepted by the majority of any previous generation. A&E is very well aware of this, and they are afraid of offending the public. They do not want the public to think that they support morals of the old society, and this is why they suspended Phil Robertson.
What does this mean for Conservatives nowadays? For one thing, it means that we need to seriously rethink how we convey our message in the public arena, for we no longer have the moral majority in this nation. This does not mean that we should be quiet on what we believe. We just need to get clever about it. We also need to approach the public arena with the mentality that not everyone knows all the aspects of a Judeo-Christian worldview, and those who do may have a flawed perspective on it. 10-15 years ago, it was acceptable to assume that an elementary school kid knew the story of Noah and the Ark. Today, this may not be the case. Even if they know about the story, they may not have a correct understanding about it because it is not commonly taught anymore. We need to consider this as we approach public policy. We have not lost the culture war, as Mr. Robertson’s comments have evidenced. We still have a chance, but we need to find a way to creatively get our message across to the public.