The Messianic Jewish Bible Institute, which last year featured former President George W. Bush at its annual banquet to help raise funds for its mission to persuade Jews that Jesus is the messiah, this year will host Phil and Alan Robertson, the patriarch and eldest son of the Christian reality television show Duck Dynasty.
Bush’s keynote appearance at last year’s event caused quite a bit of controversy after I broke the story at Mother Jones. Even Bush’s Jewish supporters questioned his support for an organization that teaches evangelistic efforts to provoke “jealousy” in Jews, leading to a lifting of their “blindness” to Jesus as the Messiah, the “restoration” of Israel, and the Second Coming of Christ.
The event itself was closed to the press. In 2012, the keynote speaker was Glenn Beck, whose pastor in Dallas, Robert Morris of Gateway Church, supports MJBI.
MJBI announced the Duck Dynasty appearances in an email today, and its website promotes the evening, called “Inexpressible Joy,” as light-hearted entertainment:
Spend a fun filled evening with the Duck Commander himself, Phil Robertson, and other stars from the mega hit show, A&E’s Duck Dynasty. They’ll share heartwarming and hysterical stories about filming the show, what goes on behind the scenes, their lives, their faith, their family, and ducks. The event will be unscripted and unrehearsed, so who knows what tales of trials, tribulations and triumphs will be told! They’ll be joined by special musical guests who’ll provide their own special brand of toe tapping fun. Celebrate the simple. Laugh with us. Smile with us. Tap your toes with us. And as Phil says, get “HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY.”
Ticket prices range from $100 for an individual seat to $10,000 for a “Commander” table.
Last year, Robertson’s homophobic remarks to GQ magazine, along with his assertion that blacks were “happy” before the civil rights era, caused a temporary suspension of Duck Dynasty by the A&E network, and an outcry of so-called persecution from the family’s conservative supporters. In an Easter Sunday sermon this year, Robertson defended his anti-gay comments and assailed his critics, claiming the media did not understand the Bible. “Neither the sexually immoral, nor the idolators, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves, nor greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God,” he told his congregation.