I have resisted the urge to enter the Phil Robertson /Duck Dynasty controversy for a few days. While I have strong opinions about what I have been reading, many writers have made excellent points about the conflict. I decided to enter the fray because of what I have not heard. With all the press, it may have been mentioned, and I may have missed it.

To be upfront I don’t watch the series, and don’t plan to. I’ve had one exposure to the show, an episode of the TV program “Last Man Standing,” where Si and Willie Robertson, from Duck Dynasty, ham it up with Tim Allen and company. Other than that I am only aware of what I have read.

As I understand it Phil Robertson, reported to be the patriarch of the family, was interviewed and made comments as to what he believes regarding homosexuality and racial issues among other things. Some believe he was set up and ambushed. Upon hearing the interview,the TV channel A&E that produces the show pronounced the statements Phil made were not in keeping with the values of their organization, and suspended their contract with him. When his comments were released to the public he was labeled a homophobe and a racist. The pile on began. One side was outraged that he had expressed such insensitivity towards racial minorities and homosexuals. On the other side were those who saw Phil as being pilloried for vocalizing his Christian beliefs.

For the record, in our country Phil has the right to speak his mind. A&E has the right to suspend him from the show. People who are upset with A&E’s decision have the right to boycott the company and their sponsors. Those who disagree with Phil have the right to call him names. Those who agree with him have the right to claim he is suffering for his faith.

As Americans, we have a plethora of rights. In fact we have defined inalienable rights. On the other hand if you choose to follow Jesus’ example he encourages us to let go of our rights. I would have to say that in following this controversy there has been more focus on who has what right than on who’s letting go of rights. I have heard and read how Phil is persecuted for his faith. A pretty low threshold of persecution if you ask me.

It seems that living in the USA we have to make choices. Claiming our rights or giving up our rights. We can’t do both.

What I haven’t heard in this silly situation are the words that Jesus spoke when he was persecuted. His persecution involved taunts, mocking, and hateful speech hurled at him. His persecution involved nails driven into flesh. His persecution was a slow agonizing death.

His response to being persecuted? “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.”

I can’t say I’ve read anything even close to those words from any of the supporters, friends, or family of persecuted Phil. It appears that many of the faithful are striving to restore Phil’s rights which would be antithetical to what Jesus asks us to do.

Lest we lose perspective about what is really going on, here is a reality check: This is a TV show! All the flap over what was said or meant means ratings. The members of the show will have ongoing celebrity status regardless as to whether the show continues or not.

Maybe a story like this shouldn’t be used to illustrate the persecution of Christians, especially in the light of real persecution going on around the world. Maybe Christians shouldn’t be making role models of our entertainers. Maybe Christians should be looking at how they can give their rights away rather than demanding that they get every right American freedom grants them. Maybe a story like the unfolding Duck Dynasty story should just be a story about the entertainment industry, and not a mini-passion play.

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