Chip Gaines has responded to a controversy surrounding a Buzzfeed article about his pastor's stance against same sex-marriage, saying he wants to "change the conversation" in 2017.
Chip Gaines, and his wife Joanna, are the stars of HGTV's popular home-renovation TV show Fixer Upper. In late November 2016, Buzzfeed published an article which highlighted their pastor Jimmy Seibert's opposition to same-sex marriage, and asked "So are the Gaineses against same-sex marriage?"
The post received criticism from Christians and non-Christians who saw the piece as "bizarre and not newsworthy" and a dangerous, shaming "hit-piece" on the Gaineses. Now Chip Gaines has responded in a blog post, saying that "Disagreement is not the same thing as hate", and that he wants to "change the conversation".
"In my lifetime, I can't recall humanity being more divided. Plenty of folks are sad and scared and angry and there are sound bites being fed to us that seem fueled by judgement, fear and even hatred," Chip wrote in his 'New Year's Revelation' post.
The post laments the division seen in 2016 and highlighted in the Buzzfeed controversy, and makes a plea for reconciliation, insisting: "A house divided cannot stand."
The Gaineses didn't address the specific issue of their views on same-sex marriage, but instead emphasise their love for all, whatever differences may persist.
Chip wrote: "Joanna and I have personal convictions. One of them is this: we care about you for the simple fact that you are a person, our neighbour on planet earth. It's not about what colour your skin is, how much money you have in the bank, your political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender, nationality or faith."
The post is the Gaineses first real response to the controversy since it began.
Refusing to be drawn into side-taking that only furthers division, the Gaineses hope that good disagreement and engagement will be the shape of things to come.
"Jo and I feel called to be bridge builders. We want to help initiate conversations between people that don't think alike. Listen to me, we do not all have to agree with each other. Disagreement is not the same thing as hate, don't believe that lie."
Echoing the redevelopment theme of their television hit, Chip concluded: "This could be one of the greatest restoration stories of all time."