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6 January, 2014 By Rev. Ted Pike

For a Christian like Phil Robertson, patriarch of the Duck Dynasty family and A&E reality show, the testimony of faith and integrity he shows a lost world is his most valuable possession. More than intellectual property, it is his spiritual property which he intends to present to Jesus the moment after death and hopefully hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant... enter thou into the joy of thy lord." (Matt. 25:23) Robertson has said the overriding purpose of Duck Dynasty is advancing Christianity and its wholesome and morally consistent example.

But will the Robertson family be allowed to express their own cultural values in a liberal world which claims to support diversity? In an interview with Sports Spectrum magazine, Robertson said A&E editors repeatedly inserted audio “bleeps” into family conversations on camera, making it appear that the Robertson family was using profanity.

Why is this so wrong? It defames the Robertsons' character, making them seem like hypocrites before almost 12 million weekly viewers. It is even a form of slander. It shows contempt for the Robertsons' moral identity and values. It trivializes their beliefs, implying such values are not a sacred personal possession but something which is public property, malleable, and free to be recreated and distorted through the power of editing. Although such manipulation occurred among up to 20 A&E editors, it is inconceivable that it continued without permission or perhaps direction by top leadership.

Such license by A&E was an act of deception requiring the Robertsons to personally discover it, perhaps months after it had been going on.

Robertson also said A&E repeatedly edited the name of Jesus from the family prayers that close each episode. Again, this does violence to the sanctity of the Robertsons’ identity and values. Christians universally end prayers by invoking, “In Jesus name, amen.” Their expressions of praise, gratitude, and petitions are offered to God the Father through the mediation and power of Jesus and in His holy name. No Christian’s public prayer is complete without expression of trust in Jesus and His power.

Yet, as with A&E’s portrayal of them as hypocrites who both praise Jesus yet perhaps take His name in vain, this theft and re-creation of them as “Christians” who do not value the power of Jesus and His name to answer prayer gives the impression that, like “PC” religious compromisers, the Robertsons participate in the fear that a Jew, Muslim or atheist might be offended. The Robertsons are thus subject to further character distortion, made to appear as cowards. This sets an example to others to do the same: hold religious beliefs in private but not profess Jesus publicly.

All this reveals a high-handed intolerance by A&E of the core values of Christianity. It also reveals their incredible audacity to remake the Robertsons through video magic into double-minded, wimpy, virtual cartoon caricatures.

Robertson said that in both instances he complained and A&E stopped. They better have! Such distortion of character, like slander and libel, is an indictable offense.

If the Robertsons were not Christians, they could well sue A&E for defamation of character.


Did A&E Commit Actual Bias Crimes?

In Canada and many European countries ruled by anti-hate laws, Jews, blacks, Muslims and homosexuals are specially protected from any public speech that portrays them individually or collectively with “hatred or contempt.” Such is a hate crime subject in Canada to a $5000 fine or imprisonment if the offense continues. Similar anti-bias laws in some U.S. states make it criminal for Christian businesses to “show contempt” for gays by not providing same-sex wedding services or refusing to hire them, or fire them, “because of who they are.” Some state anti -discrimination laws also forbid evangelism in the workplace, considered “creating a hostile work environment” for gays and lesbians. Thus, Robertson’s description of homosexuals as “sinners,” if it occurred on the set of Duck Dynasty, could be prosecuted as a federal hate crime in Canada and a bias crime in states such as Colorado, California and Oregon.

But so would A&E’s contempt for the religious views of the Robertsons, evidenced by their unauthorized video distortions of the Robertsons’ beliefs and character. In Robertson’s above-quoted interview he says, while under contract to A&E, the Robertsons exist in a “workhouse” environment. Clearly, according to bias crimes laws, A&E’s distortion of the speech and identity of their “employees” (the Robertsons) would constitute “workplace intimidation,” a bias crime.


Was Censorship and Discrimination by A&E Unconstitutional?

Many on the religious right, inundating A&E with protest, considered it morally wrong for A&E to suspend Robertson for merely expressing his Christian conscience. Yet A&E’s reverse discrimination against a Christian is not illegal. There is no prohibition in the U.S. Constitution of business owners, such as A&E, exercising their right to discriminate and, under the First Amendment, even use coarse and abusive language as long as it does not slander or libel another.

What is both morally and legally wrong today is creation of a perverse system of hate and bias crime laws that give special rights and protections in business or the workplace to a homosexual, African-American, or Muslim minority but deny the same protection to the white Christian majority. Such assaults the most fundamental premise on which America was founded: equality and justice for all. It also flaunts the 14th Amendment of the Constitution which forbids granting special privileges to some.

Rather than allow the government to create special laws to punish discrimination or coarse speech, the Founding Fathers wisely left it up to the public to discipline individuals or organizations whose actions clearly violate accepted standards of tolerance and fair play. That is exactly what happened as the largely Christian right came to the Robertsons’ defense and powerfully pressured A&E to end their anti-Christian discrimination.

Perversely, however, emerging hate and bias crimes laws ensure that the discriminator against favored minorities is punished, not by economic boycott or social ostracism but by the heavy hand of government. This gives protected minorities formidable power to intimidate those who disagree with them or even just dislike and don’t want to hire them. It means the power of law backs strongly countercultural movements such as homosexuality, forcing public acceptance and legitimacy under threat of imprisonment.

Homosexuals and pro-homosexual businesses have the right under the Constitution to discriminate against Christians; but Christians and Christian business owners, under anti-bias laws, do not have the right to discriminate against homosexuals or even publicly call them sinners without fearing prosecution. The Christian’s punishment includes stress, social ostracism, and even financial devastation after indictment as a “hate criminal.”

This is not the American way. We are witnessing the calculated destruction of the American ideal of freedom and equality for all, along with freedom of speech and freedom to discriminate with your private property, including the running of your hard-earned business.

A&E said that, partly as a result of this controversy, it will begin a program of PSAs about increasing tolerance in America. These will certainly imply tolerance of homosexuality NOT traditional, Christian morality!

A&E should not be allowed to become a sermonizer to the nation on tolerance until they have publicly apologized to the Robertsons and made it absolutely clear that “respect for diversity” especially includes respect and tolerance for the views of the majority of religious Americans, Christians.

current Ted Pike photo
Ted, today - photo: John Pike, October 2019

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