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Phil Robertson and the Catholic Bishops on Homosexuality: St. Paul vs. Civil Law

By       Message Thomas Farrell     Permalink
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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) December 26, 2013: Phil Robertson is a self-described Bible-thumper and the 67-year-old patriarch of the A&E network's wildly popular television show "Duck Dynasty." He's a duck hunter in Louisiana. He and his family have made big bucks selling various products under the brand Duck Dynasty.


Armed with a tape recorder, the young Drew Magary, a self-described "milquetoast suburban WASP," went to Louisiana to interview the old Bible-thumper. Then Magary wrote up a profile of the old guy and his views, and got it published in the magazine GQ. But Magary's piece does not contain tips for today's gentleman about duck hunting, despite the colorful photograph of Phil and other Robertson men in their duck-hunting outfits. The mottoes at GQ are "Look Sharp" and "Live Smart." I guess that the photograph is tipping readers off about how to look sharp when they go duck hunting.


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Evidently, Magary and the editors of GQ think that today's gentleman needs to be informed about Phil Robertson's views regarding blacks in the Jim-Crow era in the South before the civil-rights era and regarding sin and morality and homosexual sex acts. (Out of consideration of space, I will skip over Phil Robertson's debatable views of the old Jim-Crow era before the civil-rights era.)


As we might expect, the publication of Phil Robertson's views in GQ has served as a predictable prompt to further exchanges of views in our ongoing culture-wars regarding blacks and regarding homosexuality and other issues.

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For example, in response to the charge that Phil Robertson is expressing homophobic views, Mike Huckabee, a Bible-thumper himself, has pointed out that Phil's views are "traditional" Christian views, as though this is supposed to put the views beyond debate. However, for centuries, the "traditional" Christian view was that slavery was OK. And for centuries, many Christians were OK with rabid anti-Semitism.


Nevertheless, I agree with Huckabee that Phil Robertson's views about homosexuality represent the basic Christian view historically.


Now, the Roman Catholic bishops in the United States have spent big bucks on their campaign against same-sex marriage under the civil law. But surveys show that many Catholics support same-sex marriage under the civil law. So after all the effort and money that the Catholic bishops devoted to their campaign against same-sex marriage, the results were not exactly impressive. Their efforts did not work to persuade all Catholics to go along with the bishops' views. (The Catholic bishops are also not doing so well at persuading married Catholics to follow the church's teaching against the use of artificial contraception for the purposes of family planning.)

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Is it possible that the debate prompted by Phil Robertson's views will help undermine his views among other self-described Bible-thumpers -- as the Catholic bishops' campaign against same-sex marriage evidently did among certain Catholics?


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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; Ph.D.in higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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