BuzzFeed scoop: Popular TV couple belongs to a Christian church that disapproves of homosexuality

Under fire from conservatives, BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith gamely tried to defend this dreck earlier on Twitter by insisting that it’s not a story about Christian belief, it’s a story about possible discrimination on the popular HGTV show “Fixer Upper” hosted by Chip and Joanna Gaines.

Is that right? Here’s the headline.


It’s odd that a story that’s supposedly about discrimination, not belief, would focus up front on belief rather than discrimination. It’s also odd that the bulk of the story maintains that focus:

[The Gaineses] 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…

When reached by phone, Antioch Community Church’s communications director pointed me toward the church’s website under “beliefs,” where it states, “Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime.” The church has held the same position since Seibert founded it 17 years ago, she said…

The spokesperson for Antioch said she could not speak for Chip and Joanna Gaines on same-sex marriage. But 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 10 or even lose your business. But if you’re not clear, you will have no leg to stand on down the road. If you think you’re going to get away with it in the short run, I promise you won’t in the long run, because the spirit demands submission.”

Et cetera, et cetera. They’re Christians; their church considers homosexuality sinful, which is down-the-line Christianity. The story runs on and on, marveling at that, for 18 paragraphs. In a single paragraph tucked away in the middle of the piece, author Kate Aurthur mentions almost offhandedly that no gay couples have appeared on “Fixer Upper” even though the show involves the Gaineses renovating a different married couple’s home every week. That’s the angle Smith is grasping at now to try to justify publishing the story: Have the Gaineses barred gays from their show due to their Christian convictions? There’s no evidence that they have. There’s no evidence that they even agree with their pastor about homosexuality. HGTV didn’t respond when asked for comment, but at least two hosts on the network are openly gay so there’s clearly no network-wide anti-gay policy. As such, there’s as much news value to this “story” as there would be if you picked a show on television at random and sniffed around to see if there are any devout Christians — or Muslims! — in influential positions there (host, producer, casting director, etc). If so, does the show you picked have an insufficient number of gays on it? Well, then there you go. It must be the Christian influence and it must be purposeful discrimination. That’s a “news story.” Someone should tally up how many gay couples have been on “Judge Judy.” If I can find an evangelical somewhere in the hierarchy there, then we’re really cooking scoop-wise.

Or maybe this would make a better scoop:

The only reason the Gaineses were targeted here instead of some other random Christians who work in entertainment is because they’re hot right now. They’ve got a book out, the new season of their show premiered last night, and they probably have a fair number of fans among BuzzFeed’s younger, left-leaning crowd. They’re good click material. Nailing someone for the Internet’s favorite thoughtcrime, being insufficiently accepting of gays, is also reliably excellent click material. Put the two together and how could Aurthur, or whoever assigned this cynical garbage, resist trying to spin a “story” out of it? Nothing delivers page views like an online lynch mob. I don’t want to copy/paste all of it, but you’re well advised to read this thread of tweets by (occasional Hot Air contributor) Gabe Malor on the subject. A few choice bits:

Malor’s coming at this from the perspective of someone who supports gay rights, including gay marriage (as do I, by the way). Demagoging the Gaineses over their faith won’t win you any converts on that. It’s spank material for people who’ve already been converted and get off on the idea that their opponents are benighted and/or relish the prospect of the Gaineses having to squirm over questions in future interviews about this when all they really wanted to talk about was shiplap and “open floor concepts.” This really is what it boils down to:

The BuzzFeed piece is proof that we’re past the persuasion stage now in the culture wars, particularly as regards gay rights, and into the bludgeoning stage, where the left feels secure enough in its gains to try to strongarm the holdouts. The headline I screencapped up top — “whether the Fixer Upper couple agrees is unclear” — gives the game away. The Gaineses aren’t even being charged with anything; they’re being summoned by an inquisition to come and answer. That’s why BuzzFeed’s taking such a pounding on social media from the right over this. If you’re going to swing a club at someone, expect that they’ll eventually swing back.

Update: Well, here’s an interesting tweet. Kate Aurthur didn’t have an agenda in sniffing around the Gaineses, did she?