Members of the "Duck Dynasty" are wondering whether the hit reality TV show can go on now that patriarch Phil Robertson has been pulled from the show for making disparaging comments about gays.
The Robertson family issued a statement Thursday night thanking fans for their "prayers and support."
"We want you to know that first and foremost we are a family rooted in our faith in God and our belief that the Bible is His word," the family said. "We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right."
The Robertsons said they were talking with A&E about the future of the show.
"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," the statement said.
A&E announced Wednesday that it was putting Robertson on "hiatus" after he called gays sinners in an interview in the January issue of GQ magazine.
In the interview, Robertson, 67, was asked his definition of sinful behavior.
"Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there," such as bestiality, he said.
"Don't be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers -- they won't inherit the kingdom of God. Don't deceive yourself. It's not right,” he was quoted as saying.
A&E’s decision to suspend the popular patriarch indefinitely prompted outrage from some big-name supporters, including Sarah Palin and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
In their statement, the family said that while Robertson's comments may not have been elegantly phrased, they stemmed from his core beliefs.
"While some of Phil’s unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible. Phil is a Godly man who follows what the Bible says are the greatest commandments: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart' and 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' Phil would never incite or encourage hate," the statement said.
Robertson and his extended family became wealthy manufacturing duck calls and were turned into TV and pop culture stars by "Duck Dynasty," which has set cable ratings records for a nonfiction series. Several family members appeared in this year's Macy's Thanksgiving parade.
In the GQ interview, Robertson also said that, growing up in Louisiana before the Civil Rights movement, he never saw mistreatment of blacks. He said he picked cotton with African-Americans.
"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 told the magazine.