Phil Robertson did not back down -- and now he's back. A&E announced Friday, Dec. 27 that the Duck Dynasty patriarch will return to the popular series, following his controversial interview with GQ, subsequent suspension from the show, and comments reiterating his opinion on Sunday, Dec. 22.
An A&E statement to Us Weekly read, "As a global media content company, A+E Networks’ core values are centered around creativity, inclusion and mutual respect. We believe it is a privilege for our brands to be invited into people’s home and we operate with a strong sense of integrity and deep commitment to these principals."
The network added, "That is why we reacted so quickly and strongly to a recent interview with Phil Robertson. While Phil's comments made in the interview reflect his personal views based on his own beliefs, and his own personal journey, he and his family have publicly stated they regret the 'coarse language' he used and the mis-interpretation of his core beliefs based only on the article. He also made it clear he would 'never incite or encourage hate.' We at A+E Networks expressed our disappointment with his statements in the article, and reiterate that they are not views we hold."
As previously reported, Robertson incited controversy last week after he made homophobic and racially-charged remarks in an interview published in the January 2014 issue of GQ. After the network placed the father of four on suspension, the Robertson family rushed to his defense and released a statement of support that read, "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."
A&E added in its Friday statement, "But Duck Dynasty is not a show about one man's views. It resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family… a family that America has come to love. As you might have seen in many episodes, they come together to reflect and pray for unity, tolerance and forgiveness. These are three values that we at A+E Networks also feel strongly about."
Robertson broke his silence on Sunday during a Bible study group: "I love all men and women. I am a lover of humanity, not a hater," he said. He then lead the group in prayer and said, "I will not give or back off from my path because you conquered death, Father, so we are not worried about all the repercussions."
The network also revealed that filming will resume in spring 2014: "So after discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups, A&E has decided to resume filming Duck Dynasty later this spring with the entire Robertson family," the statement read. "We will also use this moment to launch a national public service campaign (PSA) promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people, a message that supports our core values as a company, and the values found in Duck Dynasty. These PSAs will air across our entire portfolio."
While the suspension lasted one week, the fifth season of Duck Dynasty will remain unaffected since Robertson did not miss any filming.