Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of HGTV's No. 1 series "Fixer Upper," are being lambasted by secular media this week for attending a church that espouses the traditional view of marriage and sexual morality.
Buzzfeed and Cosmopolitan magazine reported this week that the Gaines family are members of Antioch Community Church in Waco, Texas, where Pastor Jimmy Seibert has preached that the practice of homosexuality is a sin, and urged Christians not to adopt the Supreme Court's redefinition of marriage after it ruled that same-sex marriage is legal nationwide in July 2015.
Cosmo called the Gaines' church attendance a "startling revelation that has left many wondering where Chip and Jo stand."
Equally alarmed, Buzzfeed reported that while the Gaines' have a wide variety of fans, "in the absence of a response from them or their representatives, it's worth looking at the severe, unmoving position Seibert and Antioch take on same-sex marriage."
David Benham said in an interview with The Christian Post on Wednesday that the attack on the Gaines is "a typical example of the thought-mafia on another witch hunt searching to devour anyone who would disagree with their thoughts on human sexuality or on marriage."
In 2014, twin brothers David and Jason Benham were in the middle of filming an HGTV house-flipping television series of their own when they were told it would be cancelled in light of their past public expression of Christian beliefs on homosexuality, abortion and no-fault divorce.
"The first phone call that Jason and I took after we got fired by HGTV was from Chip Gaines who told us that he was sick and tired of watching what was happening to his country and how people are just sitting back and doing nothing," Benham said.
"The Gaines are like millions of other Americans," he added. "They are not anti anything. They're pro-Jesus and they're pro-Bible because they know what God's best is for human flourishing."
As soon as the Benham brothers saw the articles from Buzzfeed and Cosmopolitan, they took to Facebook to voice support for their friends.
David Benham told CP that he believes if media outlets are not successful at shaming the Gaines or Seibert, they will go after HGTV's advertisers or any other person with whom the Gaines are associated who might share their stance, but that the Gaines themselves will stay strong.
Samuel James, a communications specialist with the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commision of the Southern Baptist Convention, listed several questions he has for Buzzfeed and its "expose" on the Gaines family and Bible-believing Christians in an op-ed published in CP on Wednesday. James told CP in a phone interview that he suspects the media is engaging in some "journalistic virtue-signaling to try to get people worked up about a belief that Buzzfeed doesn't agree with politically or morally."
The other possiblity, and it is a generous interpretation, he added, "is that Buzzfeed really doesn't believe that its readership knows about these beliefs. They don't know that the belief that same-sex marriage is immoral is actually preached in thousands upon thousands of churches across the nation."
On sexuality issues, "what we have had in the absence of a national conversation is basically the muscle of the cultural elite, an enforcement of a new moral code on the country that has happened in the place of a dialogue," he said.
That journalists feign shock that they heard a Christian pastor say these things indicates that the United States is in a cultural moment where the expectation is that if one holds viewpoints the elites deem unacceptable, saying them publicly will mean punishment, James added.
Such overt displays show that a movement is afoot where even one's friendships and connections are evidence of guilt and reveals "a ruthlessness to our cultural moment that needs to be talked about more openly," James said.
Baptist theologian and Midwestern Seminary professor Owen Strachan concurs, noting in a Wednesday post on the seminary's Center for Public Theology website that indeed Americans "are in a strange moment as a nation."
"The Muslim attacker at Ohio State is defended by public leaders for his religious views while an evangelical couple that builds houses for single mothers is under fire for believing what billions of people hold. This is wrong, and unfair, and citizens should oppose this illogic as it picks up speed," Strachan said.
"America should not be a nation friendly to only one group, one point-of-view. America should welcome people of all creeds and faiths and views. Many agree, and so I predict that this attack on the Gaines family will backfire," Strachan said. "As we have seen politically in recent days, there is tremendous — and justified — opposition to the cultural policing of people whose views run counter to the mainstream media. Many of us want to live in a culture where we can disagree like adults, and where many views compete for cultural adoption."