This Intel On Fixer Upper's Chip & Joanna Gaines Is Worth Talking About

Photo: Getty/Mireya Acierto
While you may think of it as a network that's all about kitchen renovations and house flipping, HGTV is actually pretty progressive and diverse. Shows like House Hunters and Property Brothers often feature same-sex couples and other non-traditional families. Although Fixer Upper has offered me none of that diversity, it quickly became my favorite HGTV show. Chip Gaines’ insistence on annoying his wife and co-host, Joanna, and taking off his clothes on command tickle me to no end. The couple's on-screen chemistry make them irresistible. I’ve binge watched the series on Netflix and stop what I’m doing to catch episodes on TV. They are the only reason I know where Waco, TX, is.

However, more and more information about their church may just ruin the Fixer Upper experience for me. BuzzFeed recently published a story that links to a video of a sermon by Pastor Jimmy Seibert, who is friends with the Gaines’ and leads Antioch Community Church. In response to the Supreme Court’s decision to end DOMA, Pastor Seibert dedicates the sermon to clarifying the church’s position on marriage: it should remain between one woman and one man. Not only is Pastor Seibert firmly against same-sex marriage, he relies on bogus research to contextualize being gay as a a symptom of abuse. He also believes that a conversion from a “homosexual lifestyle” to a heterosexual one is possible and should be encouraged.

And this isn’t the first example of intolerance coming from Antioch Community Church. Just last month, In Touch broke a story that claimed the megachurch was abusive and unsympathetic to sufferers of mental illness, going so far as to perform exorcisms. The magazine's sources describe a case in which a woman was kicked out of the church after she was diagnosed with schizophrenia. While Pastor Seibert, who founded the church, denied allegations that the church is intolerant of mental illness, he didn’t flat out deny claims of exorcisms. He told the magazine that Antioch Community Church doesn't use the word “exorcism” but that it does acknowledge “demonic oppression” as a result of people not submitting their lives to god.

So how do Chip and Joanna feel about all of this? The couple keeps things pretty light and neutral on Fixer Upper. But outside of the show, they are devout Christians. This is totally cool. I support people’s spiritual journeys, wherever they may lead. I have yet to receive a response from the Gaines or Brock Murphy, a public relations representative for the Gaines' company, Magnolia, whom I reached out to for comment. None of us should assume that every single member of a church congregation agrees with every single thing the pastor says. But Pastor Seibert’s comments aren’t casual opinions on current issues shared over dinner. They’re laid out clearly on Antioch’s website.

With these new reports being directly linked to their church, the Gaines' silence means just as much as a public admission. While I certainly believe in separation of church and both state and entertainment, there is a fine line when it comes to a reality series like Fixer Upper. I’m not sure I’d continue to support hosted by someone who might turn me and my partner away if we wanted a rustic remodel within 30 miles of Waco, TX.
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