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BuzzFeed is defending its decision to publish an article Tuesday suggesting it’s possible that the Christian hosts of a popular television show believe homosexuality is a sin. The online publication argued it gave Chip and Joanna Gaines, who host HGTV’s “Fixer Upper,” more than enough time to state their position on the issue.

“We stand by our reporting,” a spokesperson told the Washington Examiner. “BuzzFeed News gave nearly two weeks to respond.”

The 1,000-plus-word report, titled “Chip And Joanna Gaines’ Church Is Firmly Against Same-Sex Marriage,” states outright in its subhead that it “is unclear” whether the couple holds this specific, traditional Christian belief.

Four paragraphs into the story, the author asks: “So are the Gaineses against same-sex marriage? And would they ever feature a same-sex couple on the show, as have HGTV’s ‘House Hunters and Property Brothers’?”

The author then revealed, “Emails to Brock Murphy, the public relations director at their company, Magnolia, were not returned. Nor were emails and calls to HGTV’s PR department.”

Though the article examines the Gaineses’ church community and their pastor, Jimmy Seibert, it has nothing to show in regards to answering the question: What does the couple believe?

The reaction in certain online corners has not been pretty.

“[BuzzFeed] would never publish a piece ‘this TX pastor you’ve never heard of opposes gay marriage.’ The target here was the couple. But the reporter never ascertained the couple’s view before publishing the piece about them. That’s purely harassment, not journalism,” argued conservative attorney and writer Gabriel Malor.

“Why does that matter to me? Because you will never change a person’s mind by harassing them. You are hurting the cause by doing this. This is axiomatic. Harassment is not a good tool of persuasion. It is bullying. It is repugnant. It is not something that good people do,” he added. “This is another example, by the way, of a culture warrior’s utter failure to grasp how Trump managed to convince so many voters.”

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His overarching point, which he went on to argue, is that persuasion sells, and that heckling and harassment only further entrenches differing camps.

“Harassment like this may intimidate the victims and other people who see it go on. But harassment will not change minds. It hardens resolve,” he wrote, adding of the BuzzFeed author, “Oh, you didn’t hear back from the couple? Gee, I wonder why people would be reticent to talk to a Buzzfeed reporter … I wonder.”

“So now you’ve harmed the victims. You’ve harmed the cause you support. And you’ve harmed your colleagues. Ace reporting, champ,” he added. “Nobody comes out of media harassment like this unscathed. Not the victims, the gay cause, fellow journalists, and not the reporter either. WRT that last, reputation is everything. Do you think people are going to forget Kate Aurthur harassed this couple like this? I don’t.”

Varad Mehta, a contributor at the conservative Federalist, took a similar, but slightly different, tack.

“I’m pretty sure most Catholics attend churches whose priests oppose gay marriage and homosexuality. That’s news?” he asked. “If Nancy Pelosi ever attends Mass, I’m pretty sure the service will be conducted by someone who considers gay marriage a sin.”

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“Lots of Democratic politicians who are Catholic have run afoul of the Church because they’re pro-choice. They’re out of step with Church teaching there. But they’re rarely asked to account for their violations of Church doctrine,” he added. “But apparently only some Christians have to justify attending churches that preach Christian doctrine.”

The point, he added, is that most Christian denominations actually adhere to stated Christian theology.

“The churches stopped policing heterodoxy years ago. The media would do well to follow their lead on this,” Mehta added. “To conclude: this is a vile attempt to shame two Americans for exercising their right to freedom of religion.”

They are not alone in thinking this, as many others chimed in, some in anger and some in confusion, to voice their criticism for the article.

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