Chip and Joanna Gaines, the stars of HGTV's super-popular home renovation hit Fixer Upper, are used to being in the spotlight. However, in recent months, the husband and wife have found themselves making headlines for a new, more controversial reason — their place of worship. The church Chip and Joanna Gaines go to, Antioch Community Church, is an evangelical megachurch that has taken a strong stand against same-sex marriage, and has advocated trying to "convert" LGBTQ people to being heterosexual. Naturally, many fans of the show — people of all different backgrounds and orientations who love watching the Gaines work their home transformation magic — have wondered just how faithfully the Gainses ascribe to all of their church's views.
Antioch Community Church is located in Waco, Texas, where Fixer Upper is based. The mission-based church was founded in 1999, and has grown to serve thousands of people. The first sentence of the "Who We Are" section on Antioch's website says, "We are a people on mission, with a passion for Jesus and His purposes in the earth." According to information on the website, the church seems to have done good work all over the world, in terms of responding to disasters and humanitarian crises, and in Waco itself, in terms of local development. More problematically, though, the church clarifies that it views marriage as "the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime" in the "Beliefs" section of its website. Antioch did not immediately respond to Romper's request for comment.
The church's founder and senior pastor, Jimmy Seibert, has described the Gaineses as "dear friends." BuzzFeed News, which first published the story about the Gainses' controversial church in 2016, quoted Seibert as saying, in a sermon he gave the week that the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage,
God defined marriage, not you and I. God defined masculine and feminine, male and female, not you and I... Truth No. 1: Homosexuality is a sin. The lie: Homosexuality is not a sin... Truth No. 2: God is able to give us power over every sin, including homosexuality. Lie No. 2: I am a homosexual in thought and action, and I cannot change.
In response to the outcry over the couple's church, HGTV released a statement at the time, saying that the network did not discriminate against LGBTQ people, even though no LGBTQ couples have yet been featured on Fixer Upper.
Chip Gaines also wrote a blog post in which he stated,
It’s not about what color your skin is, how much money you have in the bank, your political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender, nationality, or faith. That’s all fascinating, but it cannot add or take away from the reality that we’re already pulling for you. We are not about to get in the nasty business of throwing stones at each other, don’t ask us to cause we won’t play that way.
While that's certainly an admirable and positive sentiment, it doesn't quite clear up the couple's personal views on gay marriage or conversion therapy. For now, those wondering what the couple actually believes in terms of LGBTQ rights will have to be patient, it seems.