Christian actress Candace Cameron Bure has responded to online criticism after telling a news outlet that she doesn't expect her new network, the Great American Family, to include LGBT storylines in its Christmas movies, blaming the media for seeking to create division.
Celebrities have taken to social media this week to criticize the 46-year-old Bure, who is best known for her role in the hit sitcom "Full House," after she responded in the negative when asked by The Wall Street Journal whether there would be any same-sex storylines in projects produced by Great American Family.
"I think that Great American Family will keep traditional marriage at the core," said Bure, 46, the chief creative officer of the Great American Family network — which aims to be a "God-and-country alternative for holiday entertainment."
After receiving criticism from celebrities and the LGBT advocacy group GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), Bure responded in a Wednesday Instagram post. She said, "it breaks my heart that anyone would ever think I intentionally would want to offend and hurt anyone."
"It saddens me that the media is often seeking to divide us, even around a subject as comforting and merry as Christmas movies," Bure continued. "But, given the toxic climate in our culture right now, I shouldn't be surprised. We need Christmas more than ever."
As one of the more outspoken conservative Christian voices in Hollywood, Bure said she must follow her faith, which calls her to love all people "fiercely and indiscriminately."
"To the members of the media responsible for using this opportunity to fan flames of conflict and hate, I have a simple message: I love you anyway," she wrote.
"To those who hate what I value and who are attacking me online: I love you. To those who have tried to assassinate my character: I love you. To everyone reading this, of any race, creed, sexuality, or political party, including those who have tried to bully me with name-calling, I love you."
In response to her statement, numerous celebrities took to social media to criticize Bure's comments.
Former "Dance Moms" star JoJo Siwa, who came out as gay in January 2021, expressed her distaste for Bure's comment in an Instagram post Tuesday. Siwa previously accused Bure of being one of the "rudest" celebrities she ever met.
"This is rude and hurtful to a whole community of people," the 19-year-old dancer wrote.
"Honestly, I can't believe after everything that went down just a few months ago, that she would not only create a movie with intention of excluding LGBTQIA+, but then also talk about it in the press."
"One Tree Hill" actress Hilarie Burton Morgan called Bure a "Bigot" on social media on Monday.
"I don't remember Jesus liking hypocrites like Candy," Morgan said in a tweet. "But sure. Make your money, honey. You ride that prejudice wave all the way to the bank."
A representative from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) called for others in the entertainment industry to second guess any plans to work with the Great American Family network. Since 2019, the advocacy group has pushed for 20 percent of all television characters to be LGBT by 2025.
"It's irresponsible and hurtful for Candace Cameron Bure to use tradition as a guise for exclusion," Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD's president and chief executive, wrote on Tuesday in a statement.
"I'd love to have a conversation with Bure about my wife, our kids, and our family's traditions."
Ellis also stated that if Great American Family plans "to intentionally exclude stories about LGBT couples, then actors, advertisers, cable and streaming platforms, and production companies should take note and seriously consider whether they want to be associated with a network that holds exclusion as one of its values."
In her Wednesday Instagram post, Bure tried to shed light on the remarks she made in the Wall Street Journal interview.
"I had also expressed in my interview, which was not included, that people of all ethnicities and identities have and will continue to contribute to the network in great ways both in front of and behind the camera, which I encourage and fully support," Bure wrote.
"My heart wants to tell stories that have more meaning and purpose and depth behind them. I knew that the people behind Great American Family were Christians that love the Lord and wanted to promote faith programming and good family entertainment."
Bill Abbott, the chief executive of the Great American Family, didn't seem to rule out the possibility of a same-sex storyline when interviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
"It's certainly the year 2022, so we're aware of the trends," he said. "There's no whiteboard that says, 'Yes, this' or 'No, we'll never go here.'"
In April, it was announced that GAC Media, a Texas-based company that owns Great American Family, hired Bure to curate programming and have a hand in developing the "Great American Christmas" franchise. At the time, Bure said that she felt the company "fits my brand perfectly" because they "share a vision of creating compelling, wholesome content for an audience who wants to watch programming for and with the whole family."
In October, the Great American Family cable network announced a lineup of 18 holiday movies, representing a 50% increase in the network's holiday movie offering in its second year. The network is looking to establish itself as a destination for original Christmas movies.
Nicole Alcindor is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.