After A&E suspended "Duck Dynasty" patriarch Phil Robertson following his statements about homosexuality and race, his duck-hunting family released a statement Thursday hinting that the show could not go on without their father "at the helm."
Read more: 'Duck Dynasty' dad suspended from show
"While some of Phil’s unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible," the family said in a statement. "Phil would never incite or encourage hate. We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right. We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but, as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm. We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty."
A&E suspended Robertson for remarks he made about gays and African Americans in an interview featured in the January issue of GQ. The show is set to begin airing season 5 in January, but following the Robertson family statement, that plan could change.
In the interview, Robertson opened up about "controversial" topics he says he's prohibited from talking about on the show.
“It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus," Robertson told GQ. "That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”
Robertson also commented on race and what life was like for the 67-year-old Louisiana native growing up in the pre-civil-rights era.
"I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once," Robertson told GQ. "Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I'm with the blacks, because we're white trash. We're going across the field. ... They're singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, 'I tell you what: These doggone white people' -- not a word!"
Robertson then spoke about life for African-Americans in the pre-civil-rights era. "Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues."
Following A&E's announcement of Robertson's suspension, the network has faced backlash from groups outraged with Robertson's comments. The NAACP and the Human Rights Campaign have both spoken out against Robertson's anti-gay remarks and his theory that African Americans were happier during the pre-civil-rights era.
But there has also been an overwhelming display of outrage from supporters of the duck hunting king.
The Facebook page "Bring Back Phil Robertson" had more than 233,400 "likes" as of Friday morning. Twitter users were on fire Thursday using #ISupportPhil to express their support for the Robertson family and their outrage against A&E.
On top of that, supporters have created a petition on Change.org that has rounded up nearly 78,500 signatures calling for A&E to bring Robertson back to the show.
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Follow Alexandra Thomas on Twitter @AlexThomasHLN.