Duck Dynasty is considered one of the biggest shows of its time boasting over 11 million admirers tuning in by the fourth season. Their merchandising success boomed when they partnered up with Wal-Mart, fetching them over four hundred million by the end of 2013 according to Forbes.com. The Dynasty family seemed to be on top of the world. And then it happened. Phil, the patriarch of the family, spoke the words that would send the ratings crashing down, and now the wildly famous reality show is facing execution. It leads many who feel they live in a nation that is truly “under God” wondering how a simple belief can be so damaging. Many blame it on the recent pictures that have swarmed the internet, showing the famously bearded family clean-shaven and in polo shirts, carrying around golf clubs as if they were part of the suburban elite. But is a little deception at the audience really such a career killer, or is it religion itself that is tightening their noose?
When Duck Dynasty‘s Phil Robertson spoke what he did, there was a national outrage against his beliefs on homosexuality. Even those in the Christian community raised fists against him, even though their holy text has clear views that match his words. While many on the conservative far-right stood by his side, it was clear that the bulk of America found his words and, by proxy the entire Duck Dynasty family’s image, unsettling. So how could it be that in a land that wraps the Bible in its national flag is so against a belief that has been held for thousands of years? The answer lies in the religion itself.
As science begins to take over answering questions that the Bible seems to be silent about, the Christian religion has begun to change. Flaws have been found in the writings that only modern-day science could correct, (for example, the Bible says Eve was made from Adam’s rib, yet we now know that fetuses start out female and change into males as they grow in the womb), and modern-day Christians adapt their faith as the facts come out. Indeed it would seem that the Bible became less of a book from God, and more of a book about God, and Christians slipped the irrefutable facts into the pages and found they still worked well together. It just took a little change of view on subjects that could no longer hold weight against irrefutable truths. It was this overall change of fundamental beliefs that would damage, if not destroy the Duck world.
While it is true that the Duck Dynasty boys grew up quite privileged, their patriarch already having established himself as the owner of the multi-million dollar company Duck Commander, they family’s core beliefs come from the lessons of a much younger Phil Robertson, whose childhood in the 1950’s didn’t include Coca Cola and the Edsel. In his book “Happy, Happy, Happy,” Phil speaks of having no common luxuries such as a toilet or bathtub, and waxes about how he and his family lived off the land, hunting and fishing, giving God thanks every day for their survival. The Dynasty leader knew well what poverty was, and carried his beliefs with him as he grew up and went to college. His beliefs didn’t change even after Phil received his Master’s Degree in education, and he passed these beliefs to his children. But why would a now highly educated man not change with the facts when they are presented to him? The answer is simple. God promised that faith in Him would provide him everything he would need in his life, and on his destiny from pauper to prince, Robertson saw this promise being kept. It was as if he had looked God in the eye and God gave him a smiling nod in return.
But even as he held fast to his beliefs, the world around him was changing. The Catholic church spoke of alien life being potentially free of the punishment of sin, whereas previously anything alien was seen as agents of the Devil. religious views on homosexuals changed from sex-fueled, demon-posessed fiends to people who were simply confused and walking a path away from God. Even big-ticket issues such as abortion were becoming more and more watered down in the church as the world grew more tolerant and understanding of the situations and inner workings of those around them. Unfortunately, the Dynasty leader’s deep-rooted respect for his Lord couldn’t accept the changes, and he found himself fighting not only those he deemed as sinners, but those within his religion as well. His Bible hadn’t changed. He hadn’t changed. But those around them had, and when he spoke his belief he found just how alone he really was.
Now Duck Dynasty teeters on a shaky line, unsure if their show will see another season. As first posted by Variety Magazine, the show lost 28% of its overall viewers and 40% of their adult viewers due to the anti-homosexual speech that was given, and now it seems only prayer will keep their show in your homes. But don’t be too worried about the Duck boys and their family. Even if the world has changed to the point that the Dynasty must crumble, the $400 million dollars they accrued over five seasons is more than enough to keep their family beliefs alive, even if it means detaching from their ever evolving religious base.
Got Duck fever? Our very own Jason Savage wants to let you know you aren’t alone!
For our Dynasty ladies out there, check out Lynn McDonald’s delightful read on the Women of Duck Commander!