Chip and Joanna Gaines, the popular hosts of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” series, have spent the last week under an awkward spotlight.
A BuzzFeed article highlighted comments made in the past by their longtime pastor and friend Jimmy Seibert, who opposes same-sex marriage and promotes converting LGBT people into being straight.
“So are the Gaineses against same-sex marriage?” BuzzFeed pondered. “And would they ever feature a same-sex couple on the show, as have HGTV’s ‘House Hunters’ and ‘Property Brothers?’”
Many people have criticized the article as an unfair attack on the couple. One female fan wrote on the BuzzFeed website: “This is the dumbest story I have ever heard. It’s like a witch hunt for their beliefs, to try and stir the oil from a pot into the flames of the stove ... The Gaines seem to be a wonderful couple and unless they are hurting anyone why does it matter.”
The couple have not publicly addressed the story. Their representative, Brock Murphy, did not return The Kansas City Star’s request for a comment by the couple on Tuesday.
But Chip broke their silence over the weekend in a tweet that called for “respect” for Kate Aurthur, BuzzFeed’s Los Angeles correspondent who wrote the story.
“Regardless of our decision to make a statement about all this craziness, or not, I ask that people please! respect @KateAurthur,” he tweeted.
He also tweeted that he and his family went to church over the weekend.
The flap began when BuzzFeed posted a story on Nov. 29 about Jimmy Seibert, head of Antioch Community Church in Waco, Texas, which the Gaineses have reportedly attended for 15 years.
“Their church, Antioch Community Church, is a nondenominational, evangelical, mission-based megachurch,” Aurthur wrote. “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.”
The story included a link to Seibert’s “biblical response” to the U.S. Supreme Court approving same-sex marriage in all 50 states. In the video he speaks passionately of marriage being “between one man and one woman.”
Seibert pushed back against the story, telling Fox 411 that Antioch Community is “absolutely not” anti-gay, as BuzzFeed implied.
“We are not only not anti-gay, but we are pro-helping people in their journey to find out who God is and who he has made them to be,” he told Fox.
He said that his definition of marriage “is not the definition we made up. It’s straight from the Scripture. One man, one woman for life. That’s how God created us. That’s what he has for us.”
HGTV has also responded to the story, issuing a comment that said: “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.”