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'The Chosen' actor slams critic of pride flag, clarifies use of 'homophobia' in Twitter spat

An LGBT pride flag appears on a production camera as filming for the fourth season of "The Chosen" takes place. | Screenshot: YouTube/The Chosen

Actors who star in the series "The Chosen" have responded to online criticism of the appearance of an LGBT pride flag on set, suggesting that a commenter calling for a boycott is homophobic and "no fans of ours." 

A video clip showing a small rainbow flag on the set of "The Chosen," one of the most successful Christian-themed Hollywood properties ever, went viral last week, sparking a backlash on social media from some fans.

The first multi-season series to follow the Gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus, "The Chosen," has become an international phenomenon and is currently wrapping up production on its fourth season.

In response to the controversy, two of the show's actors, Giavani Cairo and Jordan Walker Ross, weighed in on social media.

Cairo, who plays Thaddeus in the series, tweeted his response with a rainbow flag and heart emojis to a tweet from sports journalist Jon Root, who urged Christians to boycott "The Chosen" and argued that "promotion of the Pride Flag is never acceptable in church or any form of ministry."

"Another one of the actors on The Chosen here. Anyone who is going to go at one of our family members for something like this, is no fan of ours," Cairo wrote. "They can close the door on the way out 'Love one another as I have loved you' We stand with our brother."

Ross, who plays Little James, another of the 12 disciples, voiced his support for Cairo, telling Root to "get outta here with your hate, homophobia and ignorance."

On Monday, Ross tweeted a clarification post saying he doesn't speak for "The Chosen" or creator Dallas Jenkins. 

"As most of you probably know, our show faced a bit of controversy over this past week because a pride flag was spotted on one of our camera operator's equipment," Ross wrote. "Then I got wrapped into the chaos by tweeting my support for our beloved crew member. While I wholly stand by my words, I understand that many fans felt personally attacked by them. I want to be clear that my words (specifically referring to tweets as hateful & homophobic) were directed at the people who were bullying, threatening and condemning my friend."

"They were NOT directed at people who simply disagree with me, nor were they a blanket statement towards all Christians or fans of the show," he added. "I LOVE our fans. Truly! I have been so active with our fan base since day one, for that very reason. I am always thrilled to jump at any opportunity to interact with fans, whether it's on set, at an event or just bumping into someone in public."

"My tweets weren't aimed at you," Ross continued. "My tweets were aimed at the tiny (but vocal) minority who were threatening to get one of our crew members fired over a pride flag. They were aimed at the people who were calling my friend awful names that I won't even repeat on here. Were my words a little harsh? Possibly. But so were the comments I was reading & anyone who knows me, knows that I am ready to go to war for my friends & loved ones."

Ross stressed that he is a "supporter of my LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters" and "fully aware that many of our fans may not align with me in that area."

"We’ll never agree on everything," he said. "The same is true on our set."

"I’m not here to have a theological debate on sin, the Bible, LGBTQ issues, etc. (maybe another time)," Ross stressed. "I have my convictions and you have yours. What I am interested in, however, is loving others. Now, we may have differing opinions on how best to love one another and that’s a conversation I’m open to having."

In a response to a user who claimed the show is using actors to portray the life of Jesus who don't "aligne so heavily in what Jesus taught," Ross wrote that "Christianity is not a monolith."

"There are gay Christians, trans Christians, straight Christians, liberal Christians, conservative Christians, etc," Ross tweeted, "stop gatekeeping the Christian faith. It’s not your place to determine whether or not someone is a 'true Christian.'"

In response to the controversy, Jenkins, an Evangelical Christian, released a statement stressing that he has "made it clear from the beginning we don't have a religious or political litmus test for who can work on our show."

"I love our cast and crew, especially because even though they all come from different backgrounds and beliefs, they work their butts off for the show and the viewers," Jenkins said.  

"The show's official stance on anything is to be found in the content of the show."

Responding to questions about the comments made by Ross and Cairo, Jenkins said, "nothing's changed with the show" and that the actors' comments were directed at "those who were making awful comments directly about our crew member, calling for his firing, accusing him of intentionally harming the show, etc."

"They've publicly clarified that their comments were not directed to the fans as a whole," Jenkins stated. 

Jenkins also took to YouTube on Sunday to speak directly to questions surrounding the pride flag and cast members' views on the topic.

"Last week some of our cast said some things online that I wouldn't have said, and we talked about it, and I just said, 'You can say what you want but, I think you know, here's examples of wisdom that we could practice,'" said Jenkins.

As far as the pride flag, Jenkins said it was the property of one of "The Chosen" crew members who had the flag displayed "on his own personal equipment."

He also reminded fans that "we are not a church" and questioned the label of being a "Christian production."

"I'm not exactly sure what that term means, to be honest," he said, adding that "of course I mean we're a show about Christ, so we're probably one of the most Christian content in history, because we are about Christ, who's in the word Christian."

"But the production itself … we don't have any kind of corporate policy about statements of faith or anything like that," added Jenkins. "We don't have corporate prayer on our set."

When it comes to matters of faith, Jenkins said his personal views likely differ from many of the cast and crew.

And while he may not personally celebrate pride or endorse the pride flag, Jenkins said he is in the "minority" when it comes to the rest of the production.

"I don't celebrate pride. I don't celebrate pride month. I don't celebrate the pride flag," he said. "If I were assured it'd probably say humility on it just because pride has gotten me in trouble."

"As an Evangelical conservative, I'm actually probably a minority on our set, and here's the thing: our cast and crew, the majority of them … don't expect me to agree with them on everything and don't expect me to celebrate their thing or celebrate their cause."

"I love our cast and crew, I will go to war with them any day, and I will stand in the breach to defend them any day," he added.

The show's official Twitter account replied: "Just like with our hundreds of cast and crew who have different beliefs (or no belief at all) than we do, we will work with anyone on our show who helps us portray or … honor the authentic Jesus. 

"We ask that audiences let the show speak for itself and focus on the message, not the messenger, because we'll always let you down."

Ian M. Giatti is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ian.giatti@christianpost.com

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