A curious BuzzFeed article published this week about “Fixer Upper” stars Chip and Joanna Gaines is being lambasted by critics who are boisterously dismissing it as “dangerous,” a “hit job” and an attempt to “destroy” the couple.
The original article, titled, “Chip And Joanna Gaines’ Church Is Firmly Against Same-Sex Marriage,” opens by dissecting the success of the HGTV show as well as the couple’s other endeavors, before noting that the Gaineses are “devout Christians.” Then, the article abruptly starts moving into contentious LGBTQ territory.
“Their church, Antioch Community Church, is a nondenominational, evangelical, mission-based megachurch,” wrote BuzzFeed reporter Kate Aurthur. “And their pastor, Jimmy Seibert, who described the Gaineses as ‘dear friends’ in a recent video, takes a hard line against same-sex marriage and promotes converting LGBT people into being straight.”
Tying those views back to the Gaineses, Aurthur then asked whether the couple also oppose same-sex nuptials — and whether they would ever be willing to allow a gay couple on their show, basing these questions on the church’s stance on gay nuptials.
The reporter admitted, though, that representatives for HGTV and the Gaines’ company, Magnolia, hadn’t responded to queries. Regardless, Aurthur went on to document the church’s “severe, unmoving position” on homosexuality, diving into a sermon delivered by Antioch Community Church pastor Jimmy Seibert that called acting out on same-sex attraction a sin.
You can read the story for yourself here.
Since it was published, rebuke has been swift, with countless condemnations emerging among talking heads and critics, alike. Here are just a few of the tweets that have been circulating:
Underscores how many liberal activists don't even try to persuade, relying on mockery/bullying instead https://t.co/mHaGN2kgzS
— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) December 1, 2016
Interesting: The number of Buzzfeed LGBT stories on a) Fidel Castro, b) Joanna Gaines.
— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) November 30, 2016
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) December 1, 2016
— Seth Mandel (@SethAMandel) December 1, 2016
— Denny Burk (@DennyBurk) December 1, 2016
Among some of the more prominent critics is Brandon Ambrosino, a gay writer who penned an op-ed in the Washington Post today condemning the BuzzFeed piece. While he said he’s currently planning his own wedding and believes his Christian friends who have told him they won’t attend the ceremony are “theologically misguided,” he pushed back against BuzzFeed’s narrative.
“I do not think these conservatives should be shamed or mocked. I do not think they should be fired,” he wrote. “And I certainly do not think they should be the butt of a popular BuzzFeed article.”
Ambrosino also pointed out that the debate over gay marriage is far from settled, proceeded to defend ideological diversity — and said that the BuzzFeed article actually validates some conservatives’ claims about the media.
“Another concern I have with the story is that it validates everything that President-elect Donald Trump’s supporters have been saying about the media: that some journalists — specifically younger ones at popular digital publications — will tell stories in certain deceitful, manipulative ways to take down conservatives,” he said.
And Ambrosino wasn’t alone.
Another article published by the Federalist, titled, “BuzzFeed Wants To Destroy Chip And Joanna Gaines For Being Christian And Wildly Popular,” also dismisses the article and some of the broader claims being made about the Gaines family, with writer Hans Fiene saying he expects BuzzFeed, among other outlets, to keep looking for “dirt” on the couple.
The purported goal? Pressuring them to push back against their church “and to demand that HGTV cancel their show if they refuse,” he said.
Daily Caller reporter Chuck Ross also got in on the critique, noting that BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith has doubled down and defended the piece. Smith tweeted the following on Wednesday: “This is a story about a big company, HGTV, refusing to say whether they ban LGBT people from a TV show. They should just answer the question.”
This is a story about a big company, HGTV, refusing to say whether they ban LGBT people from a TV show. They should just answer the question https://t.co/rxsbfV11mb
— Ben Smith (@BuzzFeedBen) November 30, 2016
The Gaineses have recently made headlines for much more positive reasons, including the release of their popular “I Am Second” video during which they discussed their Christian faith and their marriage. Both Chip and Joanna were openly candid about their reliance upon the Almighty.
While Chip said his wife has helped him appreciate structure in his relationship with God, Joanna said Chip has helped her see that growing in one’s spiritual journey won’t always be a comfortable experience, as Faithwire previously reported.
“I have learned so much about order and structure and processes through my wife and God is all of those things to me now,” Chip said. “But at the beginning, God was just chaotic to me — he was wild, he was untamed, he was unruly, and I liked that.”
As for Joanna, she said Chip has helped her discover “this reality of what it’s like to follow Christ,” saying that some parts of the experience will “push you to a place of discomfort.”
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