Phil Robertson (front) of A&E’s “Duck Dynasty”

*A&E Network has reportedly had to beef up security at its New York headquarters after receiving death threats and suspicious packages from people enraged about the network’s decision to suspend “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson, reports Deadline.com.

On Wednesday, the family threatened to abandon the series, saying in a statement they “cannot imagine” doing the show without Phil. That said, the network, which has had a good working relationship with the family (as the family noted in its statement), is “always talking to them,” as one source with knowledge of the family said.

The decision to suspend Phil Robertson triggered a firestorm and has created some strange bedfellows; last night Jon Stewart defended Phil’s “right to say ignorant sh*t” — joining Phil defenders Sarah Palin, who’d tweeted “Those ‘intolerants’ hatin’ and taking on the Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us,” and Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who defended Phil’s anti-gay and racist statements by saying, “It is a messed up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended.”

Nine of the 10 episodes ordered for the next run of the hit series have been shot, and Phil appears in the nine episodes, which are not scheduled to debut until January 15.

Robertson was suspended from the show for an indefinite period of time after a GQ story came out in which he made incendiary comments about homosexuality, and the condition of blacks in pre-civil-rights-era U.S.

In Drew Magary’s GQ article profiling the family behind the reality hit, Robertson — who described his family as “Bible-thumpers who just happened to end up on television” — called homosexuality a sin and said, “It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

Asked what is sinful, Phil replied: “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.”

He also expressed his belief that the Japanese attacked the U.S. in WWII because they did not have Jesus, among other points, and noted that his personal observations of black Americans in the pre-civil rights South was that they “were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

Not long after the article was released, A&E issued a statement saying, “We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty…His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.”