Chip And Joanna Gaines Go To An Anti-Gay Church. Does It Matter?

It’s been a rollercoaster of a week for Chip and Joanna Gaines, the reality TV couple who are the stars of HGTV’s popular home renovation series “Fixer Upper.” 

The Gaineses made a name for themselves by helping clients buy and remodel homes. They’ve been praised for their on-screen charm and their talent in design. They haven’t used their show as a platform for spreading hateful messages about queer people.

So does it matter that the couple supposedly attended a church that touts so-called “traditional” Christian views on sexuality, believes homosexuality is a sin, and where the pastor actually promotes conversion therapy

Yes, it matters. But the reason why goes much deeper than what the Gainses may or may not believe.

Brian Ach/Invision/AP
In this March 29, 2016 photo, Joanna Gaines, left, and Chip Gaines pose for a portrait in New York to promote their home improvement show, “Fixer Upper,” on HGTV.

On the same day that their fourth season premiere earned top ratings, the Gaineses found themselves under fire for attending an evangelical church that preaches against homosexuality. 

The controversy began after a Buzzfeed reporter tried and failed to get a definitive answer from the couple about their personal stance on same-sex relationships. Instead, the publication made claims based on old sermons and statements from the couple’s church, Antioch Community Church and its pastor, Jimmy Seibert. Like many conservative evangelical churches, Texas-based Antioch promotes the view that same-sex marriage is un-Biblical and that people can choose to walk away from the “homosexual lifestyle,” according to a sermon from 2015. 

Anti-gay views have gotten at least one HGTV show canceled in recent years. In the wake of Buzzfeed’s claims, HGTV told The Huffington Post on Thursday: “We don’t discriminate against members of the LGBT community in any of our shows.” 

The article provoked criticism from conservatives who accused Buzzfeed of promoting a “witch hunt” against Christians. Given the outlet’s failure to get a clear answer from the Gainses before publishing the piece, conservative Christians weren’t alone in their disapproval. Some called the post “dangerous” for reinforcing the chasm between liberal media and President-elect Donald Trump’s conservative supporters.

The problem with this particular article, and the reactions it provoked across the political and religious affiliations, is that both distract from issues that are very real and present for America’s queer community.

When the media focus too narrowly on an individual’s (or their pastor’s) religious belief, it gives fuel to the conservative Christian claim that American Christians are being targeted and even persecuted for their religion. Two days after Buzzfeed’s article was published, the Gaineses’ pastor Jimmy Seibert called on Christians to “stand together in the face of adversity.” 

“When I have a biblical conviction about my lifestyle choices or how I should run my business or how I should run my home, we should be free to do that – to lovingly express our views to the world around us,” Seibert said in an interview with conservative pundit Todd Starnes.

But beliefs aren’t the problem. We don’t need to agree on theology. It’s how these beliefs are acted upon and in the long run, how they make other people vulnerable to discrimination, that matters. 

It’s not that the Gaineses and their church shouldn’t be free to believe what they want about God and God’s will for marriage and relationships. Freedom of belief is an essential part of our democracy; there’s a diversity of belief within the Christian church itself. The way Christians have interpreted what the Bible has to say about sex has changed over the past 2,000 years, and it will continue to change. 

While there are churches that preach against same-sex marriage, there are many denominations ready to welcome LGBTQ couples and their families into their congregations. What makes conservative Christians’ morality more just, true, or valuable than the morality of a happily married queer person? Power.

It’s one thing to personally believe that homosexuality is a sin. It’s completely different when that theology is used to justify laws and policies that take away other people’s civil rights.

People of faith should be able to interpret scripture in whatever way makes sense to them and to bring these views into the public forum. But American Christians also have to realize, as the religious majority in this country, that their beliefs, their churches, and their votes are not just personal. They have the power to influence policy and the lives of people who don’t subscribe to their beliefs.

Its one thing to personally believe that homosexuality is a sin. Its completely different when that theology is used to justify laws and policies that take away other peoples civil rights.

I was raised in a very conservative Christian church. I still have plenty of Christian friends and family who oppose same-sex marriage, who don’t think LGBTQ people deserve one of the very first gifts that God gave to humans in the Bible a helper, a suitable partner, to grow old with and raise a family with.

When I get into a conversation with them about this, they take offense at the idea that it is bigoted to believe in what they call “traditional” marriage. Their responses can be summed up like this “We love the sinner, but hate the sin.” Meaning, they say they love and welcome LGBTQ people, but they believe being in a same-sex relationships is a sin. And if that’s a tough and unpopular teaching, well, the Bible never said being a Christian would be easy.

The problem is that many conservative Christians don’t see how their beliefs, even on an individual level, can have a negative impact on queer people’s lives. They don’t make that connection  or they just don’t care, because it doesn’t affect them personally.

But it’s way past time to start looking at the fruit of this kind of theology. 

On a personal level, not everyone is called to celibacy. For those people, this theology leads to a life devoid of the joy and hope that straight people take for granted. 

On a national level, we’ve just elected a president who has surrounded himself with advisors, cabinet members, and a vice-president who are virulently anti-gay, and ready to use their Christian faith to roll back years of progress our country has made.

Conservative religious beliefs are used to undermine queer people’s right to marry. But marriage isn’t the only right at stake. We’re talking about the Bible being used to support discrimination in the workplace and to deny LGBT workers just compensation and benefits. It’s theology being used to remove federal recommendations that ensure that transgender students are treated with dignity

This is about Christians quoting the Golden Rule but not caring that gay and lesbian parents are worried that their parental rights to children could be in jeopardy. It’s about people lifting up the Good Samaritan but trying to protect parents who want to submit their gay and transgender children to psychological abuse in the form of conversion therapy

There is nothing loving about a theology that allows people to suffer in this way. 

There is nothing loving about a theology that allows people to suffer in this way.

So does it matter that the Gainses attend an evangelical church that preaches against the way that queer people find love? Yes, it does. And it matters for every other conservative evangelical in America. Especially now. 

Evangelicals helped put Trump in the White House. And over the next four years, they face a reckoning. They need to ask themselves what are you saying with your church attendance? What will you tell the young gay or lesbian teenager in your church who just heard the pastor condemn queer love? Do you recognize the toxic fruit that conservative Christian theology has produced in the lives of queer people? Do you see how scared they are right now? Are you speaking up for the oppressed? Will you stay silent?

Do you care? 

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Pacific ocean cool: when American Arts and Crafts met Japanese modernism

The photographer Yasuhiro Ishimotos images of the pioneering architecture of Greene and Greene have a minimal aesthetic that still looks contemporary

A few months before his death in 2012, photographer Yasuhiro Ishimoto requested that his 1974 series on architects Greene and Greene be exhibited in California. The Museum of Art, Kochi, the seriess current home in Japan, is not a lending institution and none of the collection has ever been outside the country until now. At San Marinos Huntington Library is Yasuhiro Ishimoto: Bilingual Photography and the Architecture of Greene and Greene, a unique exploration of modernism, American Arts and Craft movement and traditional Japanese architecture presented in a lean series of 46 eloquently minimal black and white photos.

Born in San Francisco in 1921, Ishimoto moved with his parents to Japan during his formative years but returned to the US to pursue higher education. Instead, he wound up in Colorados Amache Internment Camp during world war two where he took the time to reflect on his future. Upon release he enrolled in the Chicago Institute of Design to study under legendary Bauhaus artist, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. In a city as rich in architecture as Chicago the multi-award winning Ishimoto couldnt help but shoot buildings, including a 1951 series of Mies van der Rohes Lake Shore Drive apartments. His professor, Harry Callahan introduced his work to MoMA photography curator Edward Steichen who included Ishimotos images in the landmark Family of Man exhibit of 1955.

Yasuhiro Ishimoto, Robert R Blacker house, front entry detail Photograph: Kochi Prefecture

Twenty-five years later, Tsune Sesoko, editor of the influential design magazine Approach, commissioned the images that make up the current show. Ishimoto took more than a 1,000 photos of landmark domiciles designed by arts and crafts architects Greene and Greene. They included the Thorsen House in Berkeley, the Blacker House in Pasadena as well as its famous neighbor the Gamble House, where he shot over 600 images. Of the 1000, only 82 were printed and only 23 were published.

The shows curator, Anne Mallek (former curator of the Gamble House), chose from published photos and unpublished prints, prefacing each section with Ishimotos images of Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto taken 20 years before the Greene and Greene commission. Compositions tend to focus on geometry and design details wooden hinges, fixtures, masonry but few wide shots incorporating complete structures. Despite the gap in time and place, the resemblance between the 17th century royal retreat and the Greene and Greene houses of the early 1900s are close enough that one could be mistaken for the other.

Stepping-stones from the Imperial Carriage Stop to the Gepparo, Katsura Imperial Villa, 1954. Photograph: Ishimoto Yasuhiro Photo Center/ Kochi Prefecture

Photographing Katsura was a very personal exercise for him in terms of being drawn to the beauty of the building and how the details and structure of it lend itself to a modernist interpretation, explains Mallek, co-author of A New and Native Beauty: The Art and Craft of Greene & Greene. Its a basis for seeing how he established the eye, established his reputation for being a modernist and how he took that and looked at the Greenes work.

Ishimoto was not alone in his modern approach to the past. Katsura Villa greatly influenced architect/photographer Kenzo Tange and others seeking a new direction for architecture in post-war Japan. Together they published their landmark work Katsura: Tradition and Creation in Japanese Architecture, a seminal look at the relationship between photography and architecture.

David B Gamble house, northeast sleeping porch detail. Photograph: Kochi Prefecture

Of course one of the Greenes most famous structures, the Gamble House is a short drive from the Huntington and is open to the public. But the Libby House, also in Pasadena, was razed in 1968. Luckily the staircase remains, salvaged and preserved as part of the Huntingtons permanent gallery dedicated to Greene and Greene. Here, an evolution of their style can be traced through interior design elements ranging from furniture and fixtures, eschewing ornate Victorian styles of the day, through their expanding use of stained glass as well as their collaboration with the Hall brothers, master woodworkers employing mahogany, black walnut and teak to create an complete floor-to-ceiling environment.

Quintessentially American in its mash-up of identity and culture, the relationship between Ishimoto and the Greene brothers goes beyond simple polarities of east and west. Western artists had long held an exotic fascination for the east, often flirting with but seldom incorporating aesthetic styles to pave a new path forward.

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Dangerous chemicals hiding in everyday products

(CNN)It was long believed that you could acquire “better living through chemistry.” But that may really not be the case. In a landmark alliance, known as Project TENDR, leaders of various disciplines have come together in a consensus statement to say that many of the chemicals found in everyday products can result in neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism and attention-deficit disorders.

“Ten years ago, this consensus wouldn’t have been possible, but the research is abundantly clear,” said Irva Hertz-Picciotto, an environmental epidemiologist at the University of California, Davis and co-chairwoman of Project TENDR.
    Find out if you have lead in your water by reaching out to your local water supplier or even getting an at-home test kit from a home improvement store. If your home was built before 1978, test your paint. If the paint is chipping or peeling, it will need to be stripped or covered. Homeowners may want to consider using a professional who is lead-safe certified to help you. Parents can also talk to your doctor about having your children tested for lead if there is reason for concern.
    Mercury is a naturally occurring element, but it can also be released into the environment from the burning of coal and oil. Mercury can also be found in some household items such as thermometers, light bulbs and older-model clothes dryers and washing machines. Mercury in the environment can make its way into fish and shellfish. Some fish, such as some kinds of tuna, may have higher concentrations of mercury.
    According to the Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to mercury in utero may impact memory, attention and cognitive skills.
    While you can’t completely eliminate mercury from your environment, you can reduce your exposure to mercury by avoiding fish high in mercury. Try to use mercury-free thermometers. When getting rid of household items with mercury, reach out to your state or local household hazardous waste collection center for advice.
    Polychlorinated biphenyls

    See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

    Between 1929 and 1977, thousands of tons of polychlorinated biphenyls were used worldwide. Production of the chemical in the U.S. was banned by the EPA in 1977, but they can linger (PDF) in the environment for a long time and make their way into the food chain. These chemicals have been used as coolants and lubricants in electrical equipment because they are good insulators.
    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, polychlorinated biphenyls are associated with cancer in occupational settings and has been associated with issues with motor skills and short term memory in children.
    Much like mercury, they have made their way into our food sources, particularly fish and some meat. To avoid polychlorinated biphenyls in your food, the Environmental Defense Fund suggests, before cooking, removing the parts where toxic chemicals are likely to accumulate, such as the skin, fat and internal organs. When cooking, make sure to drain away fat and avoid drippings.

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    Accidentally cruel kid writes her uncle a hilarious letter

    Image: TheToolMan

    Sometimes kids just don’t know how accidentally cruel they can be.

    In today’s episode of Kids being funny or adults lying for fake internet points, a niece breaks the hard truth to her balding uncle.

    Redditor TheToolMan, which is obviously Tim Taylor from Home Improvement, shared a photo of a letter that his niece recently sent him. In the post headline, he explains that he and his niece typically send each other funny cards.

    Her latest one really cut me deep,” he wrote.

    Image: TheToolMan

    The poem reads:

    Roses are red,

    violets are blue,

    you are still bald,

    and you can not change that at all!!!!!

    Next to the poem is a photo of the girl’s uncle labeled as “bald man.” Above that, she basically taunts him like any kid would with a series of na nas.

    Harsh, kid. Harsh. At least she ended the letter with a few smiley faces to let him know that she was just kidding.

    Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

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    Store Manager Reportedly Fired For Blasting Shopper As ‘Faggot’

    A manager at a home improvement supply store in Colorado has reportedly been sacked after firing off a homophobic insult at a gay customer.

    James Shawlin visited Floor and Decor in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, on Friday, in search of materials he and his husband had planned to use to complete a fireplace in their home, local NBC affiliate 9 News reports. Shawlin, who was with his 4-year-old son, Oliver, at the time, said an angry manager confronted him after an employee had given him permission to search through some boxes to ensure that the stone slabs he’d planned to purchase didn’t have any defects.  

    “You could tell he was not in a good mood,” the 44-year-old told the news station. “I was a little firm with him, and I just told him, ‘Hey, you know, my husband and I spend a lot of money here. We’ve been using you guys for 10 years.’”

    Shawlin said that wasn’t enough for the manager, who responded, “Oh, that explains it now. The faggot that voted for Hillary [Clinton].” Another customer joined in the transgression after overhearing the exchange, proclaiming, “What are these faggots going to do to this child?” as Shawlin fled the store.  

    Shawlin, who left the store in tears after the alleged incident, posted his take on the events on Floor and Decor’s official Facebook page.  

    On Sunday post, a company representative wrote on Floor and Decor’s Facebook page that the manager, who was not named, had been fired from the Highlands Ranch store in the wake of the incident. 

    Alexander Gervin, who is Floor and Decor’s Corporate Escalations Manager, confirmed that that employee had been terminated in an email sent to The Huffington Post on Monday. 

    “The individual at issue is no longer employed by Floor and Decor,” Gervin wrote. “We are an inclusive and diverse company and are committed to treating all customers with courtesy and respect at all times.”

    In a second email, another spokesperson told HuffPost:

    On Nov. 25, 2016, we became aware of an unfortunate incident in one of our stores involving two customers and one of our associates. We conducted an internal investigation to determine the facts and took prompt action.

     We spoke with the customer the next day and apologized for his experience in our store. We further apologize to his family and the community for what took place. Our ethics code and our employee training make clear we do not tolerate any form of discrimination or harassment based on, but not limited to race, color, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, disability or genetic information. The associate at issue no longer works for us, and we look forward to improving our sensitivity training for all of our employees and providing the highest level of customer service to all members of the communities that we serve.

    Shawlin insisted to 9 News he didn’t want the case to become a political gesture, noting, “I just want to make people aware of what’s going in our community. Hopefully when [my son] is older, he can see that Dad stood up.”

    H/T Towleroad 

    UPDATE: After this story was published, Shawlin released the below statement to The Huffington Post and on his Facebook page. 

    As some of you have heard, I experienced an unfortunate event on Nov. 25. Since then, I have been in contact with management of Floor and Decor and their response has been fantastic. They are obviously a company that values diversity and inclusion and puts those values into practice. I have come to understand that this unfortunate, and unusual, incident with one of F&D’s employees is not at all reflective of the company as a whole. Nor are the additional offensive comments made by a fellow customer reflective of the company’s values.  I want to thank you all for your support and thank Floor and Decor for their prompt and appropriate response to this situation.

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    Dad Creates Harry Potter Nursery For His Little Wizard

    Illinois-based parents, Kaycee and Casey (yep, same name!) have created a magical Hogwarts nursery for their little 7-month-old son. Casey, who happens to be a huge Harry Potter fan, brought up the idea while his wife was still expecting and eventually, she decided to go through with it. The nursery took about 3 months to design and it features a mural, which was completed by their friend/3D artist Nate Baranowski, plus Harry Potter-themed blankets, artwork, all seven books from the series, and more magical accessories.

    Kaycee posted some photos of the nursery on Facebook and they’ve gone viral since, with over 5.5k likes and 1.5k shares. “Our Harry Potter nursery is finally complete after several months of planning!” Kaycee wrote. “I absolutely love the way everything turned out! As I sit here rocking our little man to sleep it’s like I am in Hogwarts!”