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This undated image released by A&E shows Phil Robertson from the popular series "Duck Dynasty." Robertson was suspended last week for disparaging comments he made to GQ magazine about gay people. (AP Photo/A&E)

'Duck Dynasty' patriarch Robertson says at church he's a lover, not a hater (video link)

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Dec 23 (TheWrap.com) - Suspended “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson said at a Bible study class at his church over the weekend that he won’t back down from his anti-gay views, but that he is a lover, not a hater.

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Robertson allowed a Daily Mail reporter to attend the class, and the paper quoted him saying,”I will not give or back off from my path.” He said he was quoting from the Bible and that Jesus could save gay people.

“I love all men and women. I am a lover of humanity, not a hater,” he added, according to the paper.

Video link: Robertson Makes Waves in Duck Dynasty Hometown

 A woman who attended the class confirmed the general content of Robertson’s talk to TheWrap, without confirming the direct quotes. She asked that he name not be used. “He is always like that,” she said. “That’s not a new message.”

Mike Kellett, senior pastor of the West Monroe, La., church, White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ, said he did not attend the class but also confirmed the message.

“I know what the general idea of that class is, to tell people about the Gospel and about treating people right,” he said.

Kellett also told TheWrap Monday that people “that struggle with that sin” — homosexuality — have attended his church, and that his message to them is, “”We love you, we’re glad you’re here.” A&E, which suspended Robertson last week after he made anti-gay comments in an interview with GQ, did not respond to a request for comment on whether it signed off on Robertson’s decision to welcome a reporter to the Bible study class.

Kellet says the reality star suspended for anti-gay comments knows gay people — and has prayed alongside them.

The senior pastor of White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe, La., told TheWrap he did not know if there were currently any gays in his congregation. But he said gays have attended his church in the past.

“We’ve had people here before that struggle with that sin. He knows them. It’s not a negative thing,” said Kellett.

Asked what message his church gives gay members, Kellett replied: “We love you, we’re glad you’re here.” 

TheWrap also asked him about the criticism that Robertson’s views are simply bigotry disguised as religion.

“They don’t know him,” Kellett replied. “People can think what they want. It’s a free country. … I don’t hate anyone just because they believe different.”

Kellett said Robertson (pictured) has tried to help “hundreds of people” struggling with sin, but he did not know if any of them were gay.

The church is a major part of Robertson’s life. He was praying with a member who has cancer last week when A&E announced that it would suspend him for remarks he made in a GQ interview. On Sunday, Robertson taught a Bible study class where he said he would not back down from his belief and emphasized that he is a lover, not a hater.

In the GQ interview, Robertson grouped homosexuals with “drunks” and “terrorists” and opined: “a vagina – as a man – would be more desirable than a man’s anus.”

Kellett said the support many have expressed for Robertson is “not just for Phil and the family, although they’re very supportive. I think there’s support for people to want to be able to speak what they believe and also reach out and help people.”

“While the gay thing happens to be highlighted, that’s just one of many things that people struggle with,” he said.

Then he apologized for not having time to talk with us sooner, and wished us a Merry Christmas.

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