Chip and Joanna Gaines are the hosts of “Fixer-Upper,” a popular home remodeling show on HGTV. They are openly devout Christians. And they are now under fire. A BuzzFeed article is accusing them of being anti-gay. This is because they belong to an evangelical congregation that does not conduct gay weddings and that holds to traditional teachings about sexual morality. That means, according to the Buzzfeed author, that the church is anti-gay. And because the Gaineses belong to this church, that means they must be anti-gay also.
As far as anyone knows, the Gaineses have never discriminated against a gay person (the charge against some Christian bakers and photographers who have turned down gay customers). Nor has anyone found them saying anything negative about homosexuality (as in some charges of pastors “preaching hate.”) No, their transgression is simply belonging to a church with traditional teachings. For this, their jobs are threatened.
Now comedian and talk show host Stephen Colbert is a Catholic. He appears to hold conventionally liberal ideas and supports LGBT issues. But he belongs to a church that, by these standards, is anti-gay! There are, in fact, lots of Catholics in the TV and entertainment industries. Are they all to be disqualified like the Gaineses? Or, to take another example, does BuzzFeed believe that Muslims, who surely have harsher views about homosexuality than even conservative Christians, should be thrown out of Hollywood?
So here we are. Simply being a member of a conservative church may be enough to get you into serious trouble.
After the jump, an excellent article by a gay writer castigating his fellow LGBT supporters for their tactic of dealing with their opponents by shaming and silencing them, specifically criticizing how they are treating the Gainses.
From Brandon Ambrosino, BuzzFeed’s hit piece on Chip and Joanna Gaines is dangerous – The Washington Post:
The piece starts off innocently enough by describing the success of Chip and Joanna Gaines, a husband-and-wife team whose series “Fixer Upper” is one of the most popular shows on HGTV. After pivoting to the religious beliefs of the Gaineses, and pointing out that they go to an evangelical church whose pastors oppose same-sex marriage, Aurthur then poses these questions:
“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’?”
The entire article is an elaborate exploration of that hypothetical question. And yes, it is very much hypothetical, by the reporter’s own admission: “Emails to Brock Murphy, the public relations director at their company, Magnolia, were not returned. Nor were emails and calls to HGTV’s PR department.”
But that does not stop Aurthur from writing almost 800 more words about the non-story. Her upshot seems to be: Two popular celebrities might oppose same-sex marriage because the pastor of the church they go to opposes same-sex marriage, but I haven’t heard one way or the other. (I can’t imagine pitching that story to an editor and getting a green light, by the way.)
Besides the fact that the entire case is made by speculation and suggestion, there are many other problems at play. Here are a few of them.
A 2016 survey from Pew Research Center shows public support of same-sex marriage is at an all-time high of 55 percent — and it is steadily growing. But the same polls tell us that nearly 4 out of 10 Americans — no small number! — are not on board with it. The minds at BuzzFeed are not naive: They know that the Gaineses and HGTV are going to have to come out with a public statement on same-sex marriage. They also know that if the statement is not 100 percent supportive of same-sex marriage, the network will be pressured to drop them.
Think about that for a moment. Is the suggestion here that 40 percent of Americans are unemployable because of their religious convictions on marriage? That the companies that employ them deserve to be boycotted until they yield to the other side of the debate — a side, we should note, that is only slightly larger than the one being shouted down? . . .
A few years ago, gay activists decided the best way to win arguments in favor of same-sex marriage was to shut up their opponents. All they had to do was lob a charge of homophobia and the argument was won. Or they tweeted at the companies that employed the “homophobes” until they were fired. Conservatives were bullied on social media and mocked for being ass-backward (and indeed, some of them were and are). But they were never taken seriously.
They were simply dismissed with a snarky RuPaul GIF. At the time, this seemed like a good strategy because, well, Hillary Clinton was a shoo-in for president and because the country was only becoming more and more liberal, and those kinds of hillbillies were being left in the dark.
Enter Trump — the voice of all of the people liberals and activists have been shutting up for the past eight years. It’s no secret that part of Trump’s success is owed to how skillfully he invalidated the media’s authority in the eyes of his conservative followers. The message was very clearly: The media doesn’t like me because I’m conservative, and they don’t like you because you’re conservative, and they’re going to try to ruin all of us, so let’s just ignore them.
And then, like clockwork, BuzzFeed published a story proving him right.
Painting: Jean-Léon Gérôme, The Christian Martyr’s Last Prayer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons