Great American Family actress Candace Cameron Bure on Wednesday responded to critics of her support for the biblical definition of marriage, saying she believes "every human being bears the image of God" and that she loves all people, even those who would consider her their enemy.
"To those who hate what I value and who are attacking me online: I love you," Bure wrote in an Instagram post.
Bure's comments came after The Wall Street Journal published a story about her new role at Great American Family, a new rival of Hallmark. Asked by the newspaper if Great American Family movies will include same-sex couples as plot leads, Bure answered no. Hallmark will break new ground in December with its first-ever movie (The Holiday Sitter) featuring a same-sex storyline.
"I think that Great American Family will keep traditional marriage at the core," Bure said.
Bure's comments to the Wall Street Journal sparked criticism on social media, with actress Hilarie Burton Morgan (One Tree Hill) labeling Bure a bigot.
"I would like to address my comments on Great American Family's programming as reported in The Wall Street Journal," Bure wrote on Instagram. "All of you who know me, know beyond question that l have great love and affection for all people. It absolutely breaks my heart that anyone would ever think I intentionally would want to offend and hurt anyone. It saddens me that the media is often seeking to divide us, even around a subject as comforting and merry as Christmas movies. But, given the toxic climate in our culture right now, I shouldn't be surprised. We need Christmas more than ever.
"I am a devoted Christian," Bure wrote. "Which means that I believe that every human being bears the image of God. 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."
Bure said she loves everyone, even those who criticize her.
"To the members of the media responsible for using this opportunity to fan flames of conflict and hate, I have a simple message: I love you anyway," she wrote. "To those who hate what I value and who are attacking me online: I love you. To those who have tried to assassinate my character: I love you. To everyone reading this, of any race, creed, sexuality, or political party, including those who have tried to bully me with name-calling, I love you."
Great American Family, she wrote, presents new opportunities for the faith community.
"I have long wanted to find a home for more faith-based programming," she wrote. "I am grateful to be an integral part of a young and growing network. I had also expressed in my interview, which was not included, that people of all ethnicities and identities have and will continue to contribute to the network in great ways both in front of and behind the camera, which I encourage and fully support. I've never been interested in proselytizing through my storytelling but in celebrating God's greatness in our lives through the stories I tell."
God, she wrote, is a "wildly creative and loving God."
"He didn't just capture a small part of my heart, He has captured all of my heart," she wrote. "He will be reflected in everything I do and say; in my family, my work, and my interactions with people from all walks of life, God's love and God's compassion is front and center. All of that comes from the LOVE that God himself showered upon humanity when he gave the gift of joy and forgiveness on the first Christmas morning 2000 years ago. It is why I love Christmas stories and sharing true joy and true peace with millions of people around the world. And in the sole motivation of pure love, I hope you'll join me in sharing God's hope for all the world this Christmas season.
"Call that my Christmas wish," she wrote.
Burr's Instagram post drew supportive comments from Matthew West, Shari Rigby, Jill Wagner, Jen Lilley, Sara Evans, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Danica McKellar and Benjamin Watson, among others.
The official Great American Family Instagram page also commented: "We love you, Candace."
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Matt Winkelmeyer/Staff
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.