“Duck Dynasty” will return to A&E with the patriarch Phil Robertson as a cast member, the network announced Friday, reversing its suspension of Robertson after he compared homosexuality to bestiality and deemed it “not right” in an interview with GQ Magazine.
“After discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups, A&E has decided to resume filming ‘Duck Dynasty’ later this spring with the entire Robertson family,” A&E said in a statement, Fox News reports.
“While Phil’s comments made in the [GQ] interview reflect his personal views based on his own beliefs, and his own personal journey, he and his family have publicly stated they regret the ‘coarse language’ he used and the misinterpretation of his core beliefs based only on the article. He also made it clear he would ‘never incite or encourage hate,’” the statement read.
“’Duck Dynasty’ is not a show about one man’s views,” A&E continued. “It resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family, a family that America has come to love. As you might have seen in many episodes, they come together to reflect and pray for unity, tolerance and forgiveness. These are three values that we at A&E Networks also feel strongly about.”
The suspension sparked outrage among many people who said the network was stifling free speech and expression of views they did not agree with. It also gave the show over a week of free wall-to-wall publicity as news networks filled a typically slow Christmas season with breathless punditry on the controversy.
“We love our fans! Thank you so much for all of your support and love and prayers!” Robertson posted on his official Facebook page Friday afternoon.