What Phil Robertson Taught Me About Christians

Phil Robertson - Duck Dynastyby Wicasta Lovelace

There are a couple of things to get out of the way before I even get started.

First off, I don’t watch, and am not a fan of, Duck Dynasty. That said, I have watched the show, and I’m not a hater. If anything, I’m indifferent. So don’t climb up on your high horse and insist that my points have no merit because I don’t own Duck Dynasty merchandise. I did watch a mini-marathon one afternoon just to see what all the fuss was about, and was immediately put off by how fake and manufactured the show was.  I mean, not long before their reality show aired, the Robertson family was a bunch of clean cut yuppies. So the camouflage and long beards are costumes, and these people are just badly acted characters on a television show. Kinda like how Larry the Cable Guy is actually a character performed by actor Daniel Lawrence Whitney from Nebraska, whose normal speaking voice has no trace of a Southern accent (and who never worked for a cable company).

Secondly, while I don’t consider myself a Christian, you should not assume that I’ve never read The Bible and have never heard of Jesus Christ or his teachings. I was raised in a devout Christian household. My mother, a deeply spiritual Christian, was one of eleven children of a Baptist preacher whose wife was herself the daughter of a Baptist preacher, and she had a brother who was a Baptist preacher. I have a first cousin who is a Baptist preacher, and another who is the minister of music in a Baptist church. The point is, it’s safe to say that I’m very familiar with the material. My Baptist bona fides are well established.

If I disagree with the wit and wisdom of Phil Robertson and the Duck Dynasty clan, it’s not out of ignorance of Biblical principles, but rather out of a disagreement with their perceptions of them. My spiritual reality is that I believe in God, Jesus and I are negotiating, and I’ve found very little in most contemporary Christians that I can recognize as Christian. So, it’s not that I’ve never read or embraced the teachings of Jesus Christ (I have) that leads me to identify as non-Christian, but the fact that I don’t think that word “Christian” means what a lot of people think it does. Until I can see more of what I believe, and my mother believed, reflected in the lives and actions of most self-proclaimed Christians, I cannot in good conscience identify with Christians are the organized non-profit corporate entity which we generally refer to as Christianity.

Now, to the basic point of why I’m writing.

The first thing I noticed in the kerfuffle that followed Phil Robertson’s bone-headed pronouncements about gays and lesbians is that the people who were quickest to defend him for “standing up for Biblical principles” were not people one might immediately recognize as Christians. Oh, sure. They wear the t-shirt. But rather than volunteering at soup kitchens, helping the poor or spreading the Gospel in any noticeable way, these people are the ones frequenting bars, having extra-marital sex and cheating on their taxes. The real Christians (and by that I mean people who actually live their lives according to Biblical principles) have been curiously silent on the subject. No, the people who were quickest to defend Phil Robertson’s Christian beliefs were people who likely haven’t opened a Bible since their mothers made them do so as kids, and wouldn’t perform an altruistic act unless they knew television cameras were filming them.

It’s fairly obvious why those least likely to successfully pass themselves off as Christians were the most zealous in defending Phil Robertson’s Christian beliefs. It’s an easy score. Rather than volunteer at soup kitchens, help the poor or take care of the sick, these people can easily get instant bona fides by sharing a meme on Facebook which defends Phil Robertson’s misguided hate as Free Speech and labels blowback against his bone-headed comments as religious persecution. It’s a quick and easy salve which soothes the cognitive dissonance resonating in their minds as they try to reconcile the fact that they are not Christian in any demonstrable way with a fervent desire to prove that they are in possession of the secret decoder ring that puts them on the right-hand-side of Jesus Christ himself. It’s the same kind of logic which saw droves of people rush out to show their support of Christian values by purchasing overpriced, deep-fried chicken sandwiches.

Phil Robertson and Duck Dynasty are now at the center of the well-oiled professional outrage machine. It’s no mistake that the first public figures who parachuted in to defend Phil Robertson were political leaders, pundits and the Conservative figureheads from the Fox News machinery. Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindel were eager to score cheap and easy political points by standing up for Phil Robertson for the very same reason well-meaning but misguided self-proclaimed Christians were eager to share their memes about Free Speech and Biblical Principles. It’s easier to slap the bumper sticker on your car and claim to support something than it is to actually live your life according to the principles you claim to hold dear.

In short, anybody can put on the t-shirt. The people we’re hearing most from right now are the people who put on that Christian t-shirt whenever there’s a quick and easy way to stand up for Biblical principles and get a gold star on their play card, but who rarely ever wear it otherwise. If there’s a lesson to be learned from this, it’s that most of the people who are angrily jumping up and down about Phil Robertson’s reacent encounter with the phenomenon known as “cause and effect” are the very same people you’ll see in the clubs this weekend, drinking to excess, trying to get laid, under-tipping their waitresses and cursing like sailors.

Let them have their moment of self-righteous outrage. For many, it’s the closest they’ll ever come to a genuine spiritual experience. We should not begrudge them a few moments in the safe, warm cocoon of the kabuki theater which is popular religion. And we should not take them seriously or be alarmed by their anger. It’s all for show.

Jesus once said;

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.

That’s good enough for me. It’s something to keep in mind as you deal with the inevitable fall-out from wayward Christians who are trying “make their bones”. They’re not angry at you because you disagree with them. They’re angry in general because they know how hollow their words are. It’s not you they’re trying to convince with all those public displays of Christian affirmation, it’s themselves.

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Betsy Konya
Betsy Konya
9 years ago

You have it right on the mark. My first reaction to all of this bruhaha was….. what did you expect? It’s part of their character portrayal. People never cease to amaze me, not so much as the Duck Dynasty as the people who hopped up there on that circus wagon…. and they didn’t even need clown suits!

Skip Ford
1 year ago
Reply to  Betsy Konya

Reality TV is all a bandwagon

8 years ago

Your article is so true! I just happen to be from their hometown & know some of the family personally. Most of them are very nice people but are very misguided about God & what it means to truly embody the spirit of Christ. If people around here knew I was writing this I would probably get death threats–no kidding!! The reason why most real Christians ,especially in this town, don’t speak out is they would get flogged big time. I did speak out about it once & the person I was visiting with got so upset I had to leave their house. Was told I had no respect for God or the sanctity of the Holy Bible. I would say that is the opinion of a sizable majority of the people in this town. I used to be a fan of the show but that flew out the window after Phil remarks.

I’ve always love studying other religions, including paganism, and have a lot of respect for it. I have very good friends who are pagan–some of the most “Christlike” people you will ever meet. One of my friends is Wiccan & another friend is Buddhist. They are the nicest, sweetest people I’ve ever known.

Talking about Gov. Bobby Jindal, he actually came to Duck Commander today & presented them with some kind of inaugural reward. There are so many homeless people walking around town & they are treated like ghosts. Do you think the Governor came to see them? It is so sad. No body thinks about them because all the attention is given to the Robertsons. I always try to help them(the homeless) when I can. They are so grateful just to have someone acknowledge them as human beings.

Thank you for this article. Finally,someone who sees the truth. Living here, I don’t have many people to talk to about this. Sometimes I feel like an alien is this town.

Skip Ford
1 year ago

I agree with your overall statement as you presented a good argument as first I do not watch any reality tv as it is far from reality. The argument I made about the whole gay and lesbian thing concerning Phil Robinson was it was a set up to promote an agenda and I despise political agenda. You see the reporters knew full well what the response of Mr. Robertson was going to be from the get-go as he is an elder with his church and as you mentioned sort of found god to release him of his sins for drinking and marital problems. I am not one to judge him and do not try as that is his life. What does piss me off when certain agendas in America attempt to solidify their standing by condemning the thoughts and beliefs of others. let me explain myself. Personally, every person has the right to their sexual preference as they seem fit. I am neither gay nor lesbian but do not condemn those that are, as that is a personal choice and I will marry a same-sex couple. This troubles me with the Christian faith as for years they condemned it but then now some condone it. You can’t have it both ways. To be frank I dated a lesbian as our relationship was strictly platonic and we just like being with each other as it was not about sex. So the idea of opposing gays is not the issue. Just as with any agenda I do not think that they should use people just to further their cause. Stand on your own merits if you feel strongly about them. In the case of Mr. Robertson, they knew what his answer was going to be and they used that to further their cause which by the way backfired on everyone. and this happens when you use such tactics to try to advance your means. Di I support gays I would say yes, would I be gay and as for the moment no but life is a path and we never know what the future holds but don’t encroach on another life just to make your life more acceptable as that is not fair. Do it on your own merits. If you want to be accepted don’t attempt to cram you down my throat let me accept your piece by piece.

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