Controversial "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson told an audience of several thousand people at the Ford Idaho Center in Nampa on Saturday that the nation would be a better place if people lived by two words.
"We have to have it Idaho: religion and morality," Robertson said to applause after quoting John Adams, the nation's second president and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Adams once said that "religion and morality alone" could establish the principles upon which freedom could securely stand. Robertson added that the Bible was just as important.
"When this goes," he said, clutching a Bible, "your freedom goes with it."
Robertson, 67, appeared along with his wife Kay, their son Alan and his wife, Lisa. They came to Idaho on behalf of Republican Lawrence Denney, the former Idaho House speaker who is running for secretary of state.
Denney appeared briefly on stage to introduce Kay, Alan and Lisa Robertson. Denney said he had known the family for many years. His daughter Stephanie works for the Robertson family business, Duck Commander, and Alan Robertson, a minister, married Stephanie and her husband Jason.
"That was long before "Duck Dynasty," Denney said.
Late last year, Phil Robertson found himself embroiled in controversy following an interview with a writer for GQ magazine. Robertson's remarks were widely interpreted as anti-gay. The A&E network , temporarily suspended Robertson before the premier of the show's fifth season.
Before Saturday's appearance by the Robertsons, 22 members of the Add the Words group carried out a silent protest in front of the Idaho Center. They held signs saying "Use your words for love" and placed red paper hearts over their mouths. During the recent legislative session, the group urged lawmakers to add the words "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to Idaho's Human Rights Act.
Most people heading to the show walked by without saying anything to the protestors. One woman said "Don't add the words." Another confronted the group by saying "Go home idiots."
Boise resident Gene Watson stood nearby holding a hand-lettered sign that said "Phil for President."
"I'm just having fun. I love Phil," Watson said.
Kay, Alan and Lisa Robertson appeared on stage first, talking about their lives and answering written questions submitted by audience members.
Both Kay Robertson and later, Phil Robertson, talked about the rough spots in their marriage. Phil Robertson said there was a time he was consumed with sex and drugs and rock 'n roll and that he wasn't a good husband or father. At age 28, he said he turned his life over to Jesus and said he has worked hard to live his life right since.
"We're not perfect but we can show you we love each other," Kay Robertson said. "I love being on the show. I think our family values are helping America."
Photographs were not allowed during the show, so the Statesman was unable to show the family.
Phil Robertson came out on stage after his family left. The audience gave him a standing ovation.
"I love you," Robertson said.
"We love you too," a woman responded.
Robertson said he relies on the Bible, saying it supplies all the rules for proper living. He also said it was important for education.
"Education is worthless without the Bible," he said.
Robertson poked fun at himself, saying he has never turned on a computer and doesn't own a cell phone.
"I'm a multi-millionaire, so get over it," he said, laughing.