Last week I saw “Duck Dynasty” for the first time, watching the first segment of its fifth season. Maybe you saw it, too. Even if you didn’t, a lot of other people did. There were 8.5 million viewers for that opening show of the new season.
But surprisingly, the number of viewers was down considerably from the 11.8 million who watched the fourth season premiere, making it then the most-watched nonfiction cable series in history.
As you may have guessed, I decided to watch and write about “Duck Dynasty” because of the controversy stirred up last month by the patriarch of the family, Phil Robertson (b. 1946). His interview with journalist Drew Magary was published in this month’s issue of GQ magazine (which I don’t read any more than I watch DD).
Robertson’s comments were made public the middle of last month, and they have been talked about—and both severely criticized and lavishly praised—ever since.
Phil’s remarks were mainly hurtful to LGBT persons, although what he said about African-Americans was rather insensitive also. Concerning the latter, he said that the blacks he knew growing up in Louisiana were happy and not mistreated.
Many older African-Americans from the South vehemently disagreed with his perception.
It was his comments about gays that drew the most attention, though—including widespread support for his speaking out about this prevalent “sin” (his word) in American society. It may not amount to much, but in case you haven’t heard, tomorrow, Jan. 21, has been designated “Chick-Phil-A Day.”
People across the country are being urged to “stand for free speech” and “sit for good food” by wearing Duck Commander or camouflage gear and by eating at a Chick-fil-A restaurant.
As most of you probably remember, Chick-fil-A was much in the news in the summer of 2012 after CEO Dan Cathy made a series of statements condemning gay marriage. Gay rights advocates called for a boycott of Chick-fil-A.
In response, supporters planned and executed a Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day on Aug. 1. The latter won the day, for the company’s sales for the year went up by 14%, to $4.6 billion.
In his interview last month, Robertson gave “homosexual behavior” as his first example of what is sinful in this country. He supported his negative views of gays by citing one Bible passage, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Those verses include “homosexuals” in the list of people “who won’t inherit the kingdom of God.”
However, the Greek word used in that passage was never rendered as “homosexuals” in a Bible translation until 1946. And no competent Greek scholar will say with confidence what the Apostle Paul really meant by that rather obscure word.
As I point out in my book “Fed Up with Fundamentalism,” in his translation of the Bible, Martin Luther rendered that Greek word into German as the English equivalent of “child abusers.” My guess is that is much nearer the original meaning than a term that includes many people who are in a consensual and loving same-sex relationship.
Yes, I’ve had my fill of Phil. Robertson may well be a very popular TV star and a successful businessman as the founder of Duck Commander. (Who would have thought you could become a millionaire making duck calls?) But what he says about the situation of African-Americans in the Jim Crow south is not trustworthy.And he certainly is no expert when it comes to the proper interpretation of the Bible or to giving “the” Christian interpretation regarding sexual orientation.