One of the favorite tactics of anti-gay Christian zealots - hate merchants is actual a more appropriate term - is to the claim that they and their ignorance and hate based beliefs deserve to be treated with respect and tolerance even as they spread lies and hatred about LGBT citizens who are merely seeking the same civil rights that heterosexuals have enjoyed for centuries. Somehow in the bizarre world of the Christofascists their efforts to criminalize other citizens and strip them of civil rights deserves the same "tolerance" as the efforts of those who seek to end discrimination, mistreatment of others, the discarding of children by their "godly Christian" parents, and oppose to quack "experts" who claim that sexual orientation is as choice and can be "changed" if one merely resolves to "stop sinning." If nothing else, the recent presidential election has served to unmask many who are seemingly more motivated by hatred of others, a desire to hold onto white privilege, and to inflict their religious views on all (for these folks, religious freedom only applies to them and no one else). Now, thanks to BuzzFeed we have learned that "Fixer Upper" stars Joanna and Chip attend a church headed by a stridently anti-gay pastor who opposes gay rights and support "ex-gay" conversion therapy that is condemned by every legitimate medical and mental health association in America, As the piece also pointed out, the Gaines, unlike many of the remodeling and flip shows on HGTV, do mot work with same sex couples. Here are highlights from the BuzzFeed piece:
Chip and Joanna Gaines’ series Fixer Upper is one of the most popular shows on HGTV. The couple has recently graced the cover of People magazine; their book, The Magnolia Story, has been on the New York Times’ best-seller list for five weeks; and they were the subject of a long profile in Texas Monthly that credited them with revitalizing the city of Waco, Texas, where the show is set and where their businesses are located. The couple are riding a wave of success, largely due to their charm and appeal.
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.
So are the Gaineses against same-sex marriage? And would they ever feature a same-sex couple on the show, as have HGTV’s House Hunters and Property Brothers? Emails to Brock Murphy, the public relations director at their company, Magnolia, were not returned. HGTV’s PR department did not respond to initial emails and calls. Two days after this story was published, they released the following statement: “We don’t discriminate against members of the LGBT community in any of our shows. HGTV is proud to have a crystal clear, consistent record of including people from all walks of life in its series.”
Seibert clearly does not offer any wiggle room on the issue, as he says emphatically in his sermon: “Business leaders, you will have to be clear about who you are. And you will have to be willing to stand to lose even a deal or two or
While Joanna and Chip Gaines have yet to directly respond to requests for comment, the usual suspects and "news" outlets like Breitbart, The Federalist and The Christian Post to name a few are rallying to the Gaines' defense and attacking the author of the BuzzFeed piece while fanning the flames of the carefully manufactured myth that American Christians are being persecuted. Anything rather than admit the truth that what is really happening is that many - perhaps a majority in society - are finally saying "enough!" to the Christofascists' persecution of others. In the sick minds of the Christofascists, being challenged about their centuries of mistreatment and persecution of others somehow equates to persecution.
As for Joanna and Chip Gaines, until they have the spine to publicly respond to the allegations, the husband and I will no longer be watching their show (which until now had been a favorite). Their silence seems to be an admission that they support their pastor's foul and scientifically false views. Yes, the Gaines are free to believe such horrible lies if they choose and attend a church that preaches hate - they reportedly attend the church this past weekend - but the rest of us are equally free to change channels when their show comes on and to avoid purchasing any merchandise connected to them. Whether the Christofascists like it or not, freedom of religion is a two way street and Joanna and Chip Gaines may be about to receive a harsh lesson in that reality if they do not disclaim their church's toxic anti-gay lies. They might even want to have a chat with the Benham brothers who destroyed their own careers.
From my own experience, sexual orientation is not a choice. Embracing ignorance, anti-science myths, and hatred towards others in contrast is 100% a choice.