An actor who starred in two Great American Family movies says he is parting ways with the growing network over its stance on traditional marriage.
Neal Bledsoe, who starred alongside Danica McKellar in Christmas At the Drive-In and The Winter Palace, told Variety that recent comments by a Great American Family executive led to his decision. That executive, Candace Cameron Bure, told The Wall Street Journal that "Great American Family will keep traditional marriage at the core."
"Everyone is entitled to their beliefs, and these are mine: the recent comments made by leadership at Great American Family are hurtful, wrong, and reflect an ideology that prioritizes judgment over love," Bledsoe said. "I was raised as a Christian, and believe in the essential message of love and forgiveness. That said, I could never forgive myself for continuing my relationship with a network that actively chooses to exclude the LGBTQIA+ community."
Great American Family was launched in 2021 by former Hallmark executive Bill Abbott and is available on major cable and satellite outlets as well as on streaming platforms such as FRNDLY. It featured 18 original Christmas movies this holiday season as part of its annual "Great American Christmas" event. Its debut movie for the 2022 Christmas season broke multiple Great American Family viewership records.
Hallmark will break new ground on December 11 with its first-ever movie (The Holiday Sitter) featuring a same-sex storyline.
Bure, in follow-up comments, called herself a "committed Christian" who has "great love and affection for all people." Great American Family, she added, allows her to make "more faith-based programming" than she has in the past. A song by Christian artist Matthew West is the theme song for the network's holiday programming.
"I believe that every human being bears the image of God," she said. "Because of that, I am called to love all people, and I do. If you know me, you know that I am a person who loves fiercely and indiscriminately. My heart yearns to build bridges and bring people one step closer to God, to love others well, and to simply be a reflection of God's huge love for all of us."
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Valerie Macon/Stringer
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.