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Before you condemn Chip & Joanna Gaines, wait for them to at least address the issue

Update, Dec. 2, 10 a.m. PST: HGTV has released a statement addressing the controversy over Chip and Joanna Gaines’ church.

“We don’t discriminate against members of the LGBT community in any of our shows,” the statement reads. “HGTV is proud to have a crystal clear, consistent record of including people from all walks of life in its series.”

Chip Gaines also addressed the scandal in a series of tweets.

Original story:

Fixer Upper‘s Chip and Joanna Gaines are facing controversy, but do they deserve it?

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Buzzfeed has uncovered that the HGTV stars attend a church in their hometown of Waco, Texas, with a pastor who holds staunchly anti-LGBT views. Pastor Jimmy Seibert of Antioch Community Church, who has referred to the Gaineses as “dear friends,” has delivered sermons that say that homosexuality is a “lifestyle” and a “sin.”

“The statistics say that 90 percent of people who are in a full-blown homosexual lifestyle were abused in some way. Physically, sexually, mentally,” he reportedly preached during one sermon, adding that, “[you can] help [LGBTQ people] direct their passions rightly to how God created them” and “personally change their direction of same-sex attraction from a homosexual lifestyle to a heterosexual lifestyle.”

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He continued, “So if someone were to say, ‘Marriage is defined in a different way,’ let me just say: They are wrong. God defined marriage, not you and I. God defined masculine and feminine, male and female, not you and I.”

Buzzfeed reports that it reached out to Chip and Joanna for comment, but that they’ve remained silent on the issue. However, before they get tried in the headlines, it’s important to give them the benefit of the doubt. There are a lot of reasons they might attend a certain church, whether or not they agree with everything that’s said from its pulpit. Maybe they have friends or family who attend. Maybe they have opportunities to do good for their community through that church. Or maybe they realize that the only way to change a bigot’s views is to expose him to other ideas, not to cut him off and leave him preaching in an echo chamber of his own ideas.

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Seibert absolutely should be condemned for the dangerous things he says about the LGBT community. But jumping to conclusions and condemning the Gaineses before they have a chance to say anything on the matter isn’t right, and we all need to pump the brakes and give them the benefit of the doubt for now.

What are your thoughts on Chip & Joanna Gaines’ church controversy? Let us know in the comments below.

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