Faith In America is astonished but not surprised by the level of religion-based bigotry toward gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans displayed on several Fox News shows Thursday night in relation to A&E's decision to suspend Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson indefinitely over his expressions of religion-based bigotry toward gay people. However, the organization thanks Bill O'Reilly, who on his 8 p.m. EST O'Reilly factor show Thursday had the courage to call Robertson's biblical condemnation of gay people simply wrong, and even rebuked co-host Laura Ingraham for suggesting otherwise.
"The Phil Robertson/Duck Dynasty/A&E issue is not a question of Phil Robertson not being able to express religion-based bigotry towards gay and lesbian people" said Faith In America Executive Director Brent Childers. "It's a matter of his employer choosing not to allow Robertson to espouse and promote this uniquely harmful form of bigotry under the A&E brand. If Robertson had said African American men should not be allowed to marry white women because he believes the Bible forbids interracial marriage – as many good Christians once believed and some still do - I doubt many Christians would be saying Robertson was being treated unfairly. Sadly in fact, Robertson did make racially charged comments in the same CQ magazine interview but he didn't use the Bible to justify those remarks."
"Sean Hannity, Megyn Kelly, Mike Huckabee and other guests on their shows Thursday, including two Catholic priests, apparently are blinded to the spiritual and moral fallacy behind the outdated and misguided religious teaching that homosexuality is a sin. More importantly they willfully refuse to acknowledge the immense harm it is causing to innocent gay and lesbian youth and their families.
"If a person of Islamic faith on a Fox Network reality show stated publicly that he or she believes the Koran says all Americans are infidels and are worthy of death, would Sean Hannity and Gov. Mike Huckabee protest the network's decision to suspend the person on grounds of free religious speech? They would be some of the first to demand the person be fired."
Faith In America hopes Sean Hannity and Mike Huckabee will pause and consider the following segment from a recent post by Julie Wood, a Christian mother living in North Carolina.
"The youth leader delivered a devotional. Sitting in the circle directly, across from the youth leader quickly became excruciating. The topic was about the sin of homosexuality. After what probably felt like an eternity, I can imagine the breath of relief when the lesson finally came to a close. "The discomfort, however, did not stop. The spiritual leader, blurted out a strong attack:
"You all know, we all know, that Ben is gay. Who here is comfortable being around him? Child by child as each name was called, the leader required a response. The next question that was posed to each child in the circle, do you understand that Ben is going to hell? Child by child the leader pressured an answer. Child by child, Ben’s sanctuary was dismantled."
Ben took his own life May 8, 2013. His awesome physical presence will not be with his mom, his dad and his two sisters this Christmas.
"Promoting misguided religious teaching that brings this destruction on innocent young people and their families – all in the name of Christ – makes a mockery of the Christian faith and a mockery of God's wisdom, understanding and love," Childers said.
"For the mothers and fathers who have lost their children because of the immense emotional, psychological and spiritual trauma placed on them by this uniquely harmful form of bigotry, may Christ rebuke such a mockery as we celebrate the gift of love, joy and peace."
Brent Childers serves as executive director of Faith In America, a nonprofit organization that educates the public about the harm to LGBT youth and families when religious teaching is misused to justify and promote stigma and hostility. Childers was himself once a supporter of the Family Research Council and American Family Association.