Alan Robertson, Benham Brothers Discuss Free Speech Concerns at NRB15

Free Speech Panel NRB15Nashville, TN — Alan Robertson of Duck Dynasty joined would-be HGTV stars David and Jason Benham on a panel at the NRB15 International Christian Media Convention in Nashville, TN, to discuss defending free speech.

The panel was moderated by Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, and also included Dr. Charles McVety, President of Canada Christian College in Toronto.

“There’s no question that the cultural landscape in America today is chaotic,” Perkins said in opening remarks Thursday, “and at risk in this cloud of chaos is religious liberty.”

Bakers and florists are being sued for refusing to provide services for same-sex weddings, Perkins noted, and military chaplains are being rebuked for even mentioning their Christian testimonies.

“We’re witnessing sportscasters and TV personalities being cut simply because of their orthodox beliefs when it comes to the issue of marriage and religion,” Perkins said. “There is an undercurrent of hostility to religious expression that we have never experienced before in our country.”

For Christians in America, Perkins said, this is not a time to shrink back in fear or lose their voices and grow silent.

“It is not a time to hide in the perceived security of the shadows. It is time to stand resolutely with courage for Jesus Christ and for the Truth of His Word,” Perkins said, adding that Americans do not live in a vacuum in the United States and what happens here has implications elsewhere.

“If we step back and allow this growing intolerance of Christianity here at home at the hands of our own government to continue, Christians will die in lands far away,” Perkins said. “If you and I are silent about the intolerance here at home, tyrants elsewhere will take that as a green flag to persecute our brothers and sisters as we are seeing now all across the Middle East.”

Regarding religious freedom and free speech, Perkins said believers are not being asked to die for Jesus in this country. “You and I as Christians are simply being asked to live,” he said.

David and Jason Benham are former professional baseball players and nationally acclaimed entrepreneurs whose reality television show, Flip It Forward, was abruptly canceled by HGTV — even before one episode aired — because they had previously expressed their opinion in support of traditional marriage.

The narrative weapon of those who try to bully and silence Christians’ beliefs, David said, is to portray believers as hate-filled bigots.

“When Jason and I went through this ordeal with HGTV,” David said, “love filled our hearts. We had absolutely no hatred.”

The Benham brothers received much feedback from members of the gay community once they took a stand, including one who “said things to me that made me lose my appetite,” David said. “But I simply responded in love.”

“After a little conversation back and forth, I found out that he loved baseball and he lived in the city of Chicago. I got him tickets to a Cubs game,” David recounted. “He shot me a Facebook post and said, ‘I was not expecting that. I’ve been thinking a lot about this, and I’ve chosen to walk away from my lifestyle, and I want to be a man of God.’

“Satan knows the power of truth,” David said, noting that when truth is spoken, captives are set free.

Alan Robertson, whose father, Phil Robertson, received enormous criticism over his remarks about homosexuality in an interview with GQ magazine last year, recounted one of the first times his father stood up for the Bible on a national stage. He was at the Superdome in New Orleans talking about his famous duck calls, and he was standing under a banner advertisement for Anheuser Busch that said, “The King of Beers.”

Alan said his father finished his talk about duck calls and then told the audience about the King of Kings. Afterward, one of his father's associates warned him he would destroy his business by talking about the Bible.

“Dad said, ‘Are you kidding me? I’m talking about dead men coming out of [their tombs]. I have to talk about this and I always will,’” Alan recalled. “That was another stand up moment for my dad, and it was a learning moment for me. ... He always stood up for truth and he never backed down and never backed away.”

For about nine days after the GQ article broke, Alan's father was without a job, and the family was huddling behind the scenes, Alan said. At first they couldn’t believe the whole country was talking about a bearded redneck’s opinion, he continued, and then they began to wonder what would happen as a result.

“We said, ‘Does it matter what happens to a TV show? Nothing is going to change about what the Bible says. Nothing’s going to change what we believe it says,’” Alan said.

The family stood with their patriarch, and eventually, after a national outcry in favor of the show, Duck Dynasty began filming again. “We never changed. We never apologized for what the Word of God says. We never backed down. We’re still here,” Alan said. “... In Ephesians 6, we are told to stand, and God has given us tremendous ability and weapons to be able to do that.”

McVety, best known in Canada for his campaign to repeal that nation’s same-sex marriage law, warned that storms that brew in Canada drift to the south with regularity. A decade ago Canada legalized same-sex marriage.

“This week our province in Ontario put forward their new sex education program, and they are now going to teach, starting in grade one, but more specifically from grade three to grade eight, that they have discovered there are not two genders, male and female, but now we have six genders,” McVety said, saying the same storm is headed to the United States.

McVety had a television show on a Christian station in Canada and was censored regularly before his program was pulled from the airwaves. There is a price to be paid for free speech, McVety told NRB15 Convention attendees, but “God gives a reward beyond measure.”

Alan Robertson underscored the need for Christians to speak the truth despite pressure.

“For pastors to back away from truth because they’re worried about someone not liking it or taking away their tax status or whatever, then you begin to let the evil one take your role away,” he said. “This country was founded when pastors rallied people.”

By Erin Roach

Published: March 4, 2015

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