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Concord Christian Academy postpones event with ‘Duck Dynasty’ star Phil Robertson

This undated image released by A&E shows Phil Robertson from the popular series "Duck Dynasty." Robertson was suspended for disparaging comments he made to GQ magazine about gay people but was reinstated by the network on Friday, Dec. 27. In a statement Friday, A&E said it decided to bring Robertson back to the reality series after discussions with the Robertson family and "numerous advocacy groups." (AP Photo/A&E,)

This undated image released by A&E shows Phil Robertson from the popular series "Duck Dynasty." Robertson was suspended for disparaging comments he made to GQ magazine about gay people but was reinstated by the network on Friday, Dec. 27. In a statement Friday, A&E said it decided to bring Robertson back to the reality series after discussions with the Robertson family and "numerous advocacy groups." (AP Photo/A&E,)

He made his money selling duck-hunting calls.

He made his name on a reality show.

He made a TV network, among others, cringe at his comments about homosexuality and other social issues.

And Phil Robertson of A&E’s Duck Dynasty was supposed to make an appearance in New Hampshire this weekend as a guest of Concord Christian Academy. He was scheduled to speak Saturday at the Capitol Center for the Arts, but the school said his visit has been postponed until September to boost ticket sales for the event.

Robertson, 67, is outspoken about his Christian beliefs on and off his family’s hit show. He leads the family in prayer over their meals. His oldest son, Al, who will also appear in Concord, wrote a daily devotional book. The Robertson patriarch talked about his faith in an interview with reporter Drew Magary for the January issue of GQ magazine.

“We’re Bible-thumpers who just happened to end up on television,” Robertson told the GQ reporter. “You put in your article that the Robertson family really believes strongly that if the human race loved each other and they loved God, we would just be better off.”

‘Current Christians’

That message is part of why Headmaster Dean Whiteway booked Robertson for talks at the Capitol Center and the academy, a trip that was originally scheduled for this weekend.

Whiteway, who has been the headmaster at Concord Christian Academy for nearly three years, first watched an episode of Duck Dynasty while on vacation with his family over Christmas. He wanted to continue a series he had started at another school in Pennsylvania, what he called a forum for students to interact with “current Christians.”

Robertson immediately fit the bill, Whiteway said. The Capitol Center for the Arts began selling tickets in mid-February.

“The criteria is that we want to get people who have been successful believers, Christians who have been successful in their area, people who have something wholesome and good to share with the community and our students,” Whiteway said.

But ticket sales halted after about a week. Whiteway would not say how many tickets had been sold, but he said the school realized it couldn’t sell enough tickets in three weeks to pack the house for this event. The Capitol Center seats more than 1,300.

The event, a talk followed by a question-and-answer session with Robertson and his son, has been rescheduled for Sept. 20.

“We changed the date because neither we nor them were satisfied that we had enough lead time to promote it,” Whiteway said. “We want this to be successful. We want to make it well-known.”

Outspoken socially

In talking about his faith, Robertson has also been vocal about his social views. In the weeks just before Whiteway decided to book him for the event in Concord, that same interview in GQ sparked a firestorm from gay-rights advocates and almost lost the TV star his Duck Dynasty gig.

“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong,” Robertson said in the interview. “Sin becomes fine.”

Prompted by the reporter to elaborate on what he considers sinful, Robertson went on, “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.”

The interview also included Robertson’s comments on African-Americans he worked with in the cotton fields of pre-Civil Rights era Louisiana, who he said he believed were happy with their situation, and more of his spiritual beliefs.

“We never, ever judge someone who’s going to heaven, hell,” Robertson said in the interview. “That’s the Almighty’s job. We just love ’em, give ’em the good news about Jesus – whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ’em out later, you see what I’m saying?”

A&E saw what he was saying, and suspended him indefinitely the day the GQ interview appeared online in December.

The family issued a statement the following day on the website for Duck Commander, their company that sells the duck-hunting call Robertson invented.

“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 statement read. “While some of Phil’s unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible.”

His hiatus only lasted nine days. More than 250,000 viewers signed a petition on IStandWithPhil.com, and before the end of 2013, A&E reinstated Robertson to his family’s show.

‘Give a clear idea’

Whiteway said he was satisfied with the way the Robertson family responded to the scandal, and he decided the TV star’s message of faith was one he wanted the community to experience. The controversy did not prompt him to postpone Robertson’s visit to Concord, he said.

“We want him to give both public and private sessions here, to give a clear idea of what it means to be an evangelical, to be a born-again Christian,” Whiteway said.

Speaking slowly and clearly, the headmaster added his personal views on homosexuality.

“There’s no doubt that God loves gays and lesbians every bit as much as he loves me, and God desires a personal relationship with anyone who seeks him,” Whiteway said. “He will give understanding to people who seek him. He will give understanding as to what the Bible means. . . . I have a sister who is a lesbian, and I love her dearly, and so does God.”

The Robertson family’s booking agency did not respond to requests for comment. Programming Manager Vivian LeWine said the Capitol Center will honor tickets already purchased if those customers want to attend the Sept. 20 event, or will refund those who can’t.

Because Concord Christian is a nonprofit, Nicki Clarke, executive director of the Capitol Center, said the school will rent space for the event at a rate of $999. There will be no additional cost to the school for rescheduling.

“They took a gamble and realized they couldn’t mobilize everybody so quickly. . . . I’m just speculating that a lot of the things were not falling into place to be ready,” Clarke said.

Riley’s Sport Shop, a firearms store in Hooksett, is also a sponsor for the event.

The Robertsons are “very popular personalities,” owner Ralph Demicco said. “Frankly, I like ’em.”

Tickets should be on sale again this week, Whiteway said. They can be purchased at ccanh.com. Both the headmaster and Demicco said they expected the event to attract more attention with a few more months of publicity.

“I think it will happen for September,” Demicco said.

“Probably by September, people won’t even remember it,” Whiteway said.

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or mdoyle@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)

Interesting to see how Duck Dynasty has morphed into an argument over CCA. Frankly, Concord is lucky to get any so called headliners. NH as a whole and Concord in particular are cultural backwaters and don't have the audiences to attract true headliners. Someone even complained about Robertson's ticket price, big names mean big bucks. Now back to Robertson, when I first heard about duck dynasty on the news and all the fallout I have to admit that my immediate reaction was one of condemnation. After looking at many articles and stories about Phil's clan I came to the realization that he is not the backwater redneck hick he is portrayed to be. I don't agree with his beliefs completely but he isn't forcing his beliefs on anyone. The issue is with his followers who aren't so understanding.

The only part of the discussion that matters here is that the LCCA (Lame Concord Center for the Arts) should not receive special protection from competing venues of entertainment. Yes, it devolved into the truth which is that the entertainment bill at the venue is anemic.

OK so Cray has many accolades and he definitely is one of the foremost Blues guitarists of our time. But in terms of ticket sales and size of venues he plays in he's not a headline. But I guess you weren't thinking only in terms of money - which I applaud, because art is not about money first and foremost. With that in mind, here are MY sources . . . 1) La Boheme is considered one of the "three or four most popular operas in the repertory" (Groos and Parker, xi). Also, Puccini has been called "the greatest composer of Italian opera after Verdi." 2) Cosi Fan Tutti's subject matter did not offend Viennese sensibilities of the time, but throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries it was considered risqué. After World War II, it regained its place in the standard operatic repertoire. It is frequently performed and appears 14th on the Operabase list of the most-performed operas worldwide. And it's written by Mozart, who's prowess and importance to music SHOULD be obvious but as proof he comes in at or near the top in every single poll of the most important composers of all time. 3) West Side Story: the original production was nominated for six and won two Tony's. The 1961 film version was nominated for eleven and won ten Academy Awards. It is the most well known work of by composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein. I could go on . . . and on . . . but the importance of just these three works/artists should prove my point sufficiently. If we're basing the importance of a work of art or artist solely on monetary concerns - then Robert Cray is not a headline act. If - as we should - we're basing the importance of a work of art or artist on other factors - then Cray is a headliner and I have no problem with that. But if we are judging art in this way then most of the acts in my original list from the Cap Center's season schedule are also headliners.

When will they bring in so called works of art by Mapplethorpe or the artists who defecate and construct anti religious works of art or oh my GOD! collage artists.....we certainly need arts like those.

Can you post a comment that's on-topic please?

Dear Moderator, why didn't you place this comment as a reply to GWTW's comment of March 5th, at the bottom of this thread??? That's where I placed it when I posted it.

You submitted this comment multiple times. We posted the newest version, and this is where you had submitted it in the thread, perhaps unintentionally. We can't change the order in which the comments appear in any particular thread.

Sorry, my bad.

Wondering about the timing here. Did the ticket sales "halt" right after his hateful remarks about gays? Why has no one, either in the article or in the forum pointed out the fact that Robertson's statements about loving each other fly in the face of his public statements about gays. You cannot say that lumping homosexuality into the same category as bestiality, "offenders," greed and drunkenness a loving thing to do. -------------- “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men. 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 later said he would never treat anyone who is gay disrespectfully but, isn't that what he just did? Treat the entire gay community with disrespect? If I were Christian, I would not pay a dime to have this man to tell me how to be a Christian, thank you.

Ok, I answered my own question. Tickets went on sale after the remarks, but couldn't be sustained for more than a week.

I was interested in purchasing a ticket to listen to the Robertson's, but when I saw the ticket prices, that in itself became a sudden disinterest! Seriously?! I would have expected prices like that for a well-known band, but not to listen to the Robertson's talk about Christianity. Give me a break!! Don't get me wrong, I think Christianity is something that we all need to be reaquainted with and practice, but it just isn't worth that high a price. Frankly, I feel that there are more folks out there that have no regard for faith, practice, or following simple, decent, kindness to their fellow man! Therefore, perhaps lowering the cost of tickets may boost sales.

Christianity is something we ALL need to practice????? Are you sure you don't want to rethink that statement? Or is your last name Torquemada?

which one of the 10 Commandments do you disagree with?

Please show me where in my last post I said that I disagreed with any of them . . .

I guess that would be the following which most progressives do not follow: "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you" “You shall not commit adultery" “You shall not steal (from other taxpayers)" “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor" “You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's.” (nor his wallet, nor his income, nor his possessions)

Itsa - now that is troll-like behavior at it's worse. Clearly, your intention is to insult and rile up the liberal readers of this forum, just for the purpose of riling them up. You know as well as I that saying "most progressives" (or "most conservatives") behave in any particular way is going to to be patently false. Personally, this liberal has never committed adultery, has always honored his parents, and has never stolen. (Ok, one pair of jeans from a clothesline on a dare by a fellow teen 40 years ago.) Beyond that, please show me one person who has never lied and never coveted, even a little bit. On the other hand the first 5 commandments, which basically outline how to be a good Jew (and co-opted later by Christians), don't really apply to me, as I am neither Jewish nor Christian. - So, for the original poster in this thread - no, we all don't need to be reaquinted with and practice Christianity. Some of us are doing just fine without it.

What is with you "headline" groupies? In past times I have seen many headliners in NY, Boston and elsewhere and I must say I have also seen many shows at Cap Center w/o headliners. I have seen Grease, Russian dancers, military bands, the Nutcracker from St Paul's. All of them excellent. I have seen standing ovations for people you have never heard of, and many local talent from NH and New England. There is nothing that can compare to the excitement of see live entertainment close to home without large parking fees and huge ticket prices. Young talent has to start somewhere. Go get your headliners in Boston.

The point is that there is little diversity in those folks attending the CCA. I am sure that Phil Roberstons was brought there for shock value or to be ridiculed. But headliners? No just has beens for the pretentious.

Don't waste your breath, Tillie. When it comes to art and culture, the usual suspects don't know their butt from their elbow. You see, their definition of a "headline" act has to do with how much money they make, how large of a corporate footprint they have on the industry, how many TV shows, magazines, movies, etc. they can be seen in, etc. It has nothing to do with the following: talent, moral/social value, creativity, historical perspective, esthetics, etc, etc, etc.

"I know it when I see it" is a colloquial expression by which a speaker attempts to categorize an observable fact or event, although the category is subjective or lacks clearly defined parameters. The phrase was famously used in this sense by United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart." That phrase amply applies to what you call ART

Oh yeah, one other thing Tillie. The usual suspects believe that all talented people leave the womb that way and that anyone who doesn't can never make anything of themselves artistically. That makes their constant refusal to support the Arts in schools a convenient and logical next step.

You assume too much. I have also seen good shows at the Cap Center. I would like another venue closer to home with real headline acts...It's not a hard concept to grasp....

Maybe it is a difficult concept, since your (and the others) complaint was with the Cap Center not providing headline acts..

Are they going to send Rep "Ducky" Campbell a free ticket?

Like I said in an earlier comment..there a no "headline" shows save one, in the next 3 months at the Cap Center.

And as I said before, please provide evidence that Robert Cray is still a "headline" act, or that none of the other acts are "headline" acts.

Where did you say that? Source please....

Ok..ok..I'll play your silly game..."Rolling Stone Magazine calls him “one of the greatest guitarists of his generation.” Five time Grammy winning, multi-platinum-selling, Blues Hall of Fame honoree, Robert Cray, comes to NH on the heels of his appearance in Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival, 2013. His soulful voice, creative guitar work, meaningful songs and impactful live performances, show why he has been credited with ushering the blues genre into the 21st century. “Robert Cray is not only making great music, he’s making history.” Guitar Player Magazine

He has performed alongside blues titans Albert Collins, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton and B.B. King- touring extensively with both Collins and Clapton and has his own line of Fender Signature Guitars. Cray has also worked with legends Tina Turner, Keith Richards, Chuck Berry, Bonnie Raitt, friend and fellow guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughn and Willie Dixon, to name a few and his songs have been covered by many including, BB King, Clapton, and Tony Bennett. Featured in Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues series, Cray ahs also appeared in Tina Turner's TV special Break Every Rule, the Chuck Berry tribute Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll, and the Rolling Stones' pay-per-view video Voodoo Lounge. Along with his Grammy wins, Robert Cray has released twenty award winning multi-platinum albums, received 15 Grammy nominations, and with the Robert Cray Band has performed thousands of sold-out shows worldwide. He has performed on numerous television shows including The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Late Show with David Letterman to name a few and graced the cover of various magazines including a recent ten page story in Living Blues Magazine.

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