Kate Arthur at BuzzFeed probably had good intentions when she wrote about Chip and Joanna Gaines, the stars of the HGTV show “Fixer Upper.” The headline and sub-head tell you pretty much what you need to know:
Chip And Joanna Gaines’ Church Is Firmly Against Same-Sex Marriage
Their pastor considers homosexuality to be a “sin” caused by abuse — whether the Fixer Upper couple agrees is unclear.
After writing about the Gaines’ business successes, Arthur writes:
They are also, as they detail in The Magnolia Story, devout Christians — Joanna has spoken of and written about her conversations with God. (God told her both to close her store to spend time with her children, and then to reopen it a few years later.) Their church, Antioch Community Church, is a nondenominational, evangelical, mission-based megachurch. 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.
Arthur’s piece goes on at considerable length. The intent is to call into question the appropriateness of the couple to be on TV. For the record, I have never watched the show and never will. It doesn’t interest me. However this incident does engender some interesting questions:
Does a pastor tell us anything important about his parishioners?
I clearly recall writing something at a previous blog separating Barack Obama from Jeremiah Wright. The quick answer is no because it constitutes guilt by association. However, it is not universal. If someone, for example, is a member of the Church of the Creator, we can reasonably assume that the individual is a white supremacist.
The Gaines’ pastor is clearly an ignorant putz, particularly for positing that sexual orientation has something to do with abuse and advocating conversion therapy. I doubt that the preacher has the training in human sexuality necessary to draw that conclusion (which is at odds with the overwhelming consensus of science). Presumably, he is trying provide assurance that his god did not create gay people. That sentiment is the core of, and seemingly justifies, a vast amount of anti-gay hate. Were I a Christian I would choose not to attend that church.
Suppose the Gainses believe every word of their preacher’s drivel?
We do not know whether they do or not. BuzzFeed’s phone calls and emails were not returned. Let us assume, just for the sake of argument, that the Gainses subscribe to the beliefs that:
- Homosexuality is a sin and;
- Homosexuality is caused by abuse and can be cured through therapy and;
- Same-sex marriage is evil.
I might not want to be in their company but, in my humble opinion, the Gainses are not bigots per se. People are entitled to believe whatever they want. I really don’t care if they pray to pork chops. I know where I draw the line. Since you are free to believe whatever you want, my line might not be your line.
For me (and me alone) bigotry is defined by actions in contrast to belief. If the Gaineses take actions that in any way diminish, or seek to diminish, the rights and standing of LGBT people then they are bigots. I cannot find evidence that they have done so. If they have, please let me know.
If you think same-sex marriage is a sin you are entitled to your stupidity born of superstition. If you donated money to National Organization for Marriage for the Proposition 8 campaign, you are an anti-gay bigot (as harsh as that might sound, it is my opinion). On the other hand, if you donated that money and now say that you are fine with same-sex marriage then you are fine with me. In fact, I have enormous respect for people who change their minds on something after weighing all the evidence.
I have tremendous respect, for example, for David Blankenhorn. He publicly (in the New York Times) renounced his opposition to marriage equality and, in doing so, he knew that he was compromising his very livelihood. That took courage and character. But I digress.
I recall another couple that were to be on HGTV — the Benham Brothers. They are very public (and noisy) in their ignorance about gay people and their opposition to marriage equality. HGTV took the appropriate steps in removing the bigots from production of a new show (in the middle of filming no less). This is not about using HGTV as a platform to advance an anti-LGBT agenda. Rather it is about allowing a bigot to enhance their credibility by being on a nationally televised show.
I do not think that the Gainses have done anything to warrant our opprobrium. I think that the BuzzFeed piece was an editorial misadventure that did more harm than good. Tony Perkins has already made the Gainses victims of the homosexual agenda. He mentions Duck Dynasty. Those bigoted morons have no business being on national television. Shame on A&E. They used to broadcast biographies and documentaries. Now it’s mostly mindless reality television. If the Duck Schmucks attract the Trump crowd, so be it.
If anyone does have some evidence that Chip And Joanna Gaines are engaged in anti-LGBT activities, please let me know by email (I cannot read all of the comments).