Christians in Hollywood have come under attack in recent days for attending churches that hold to a biblical view of sexuality, and one conservative commentator is calling it the “height of intolerance.”
The Washington Post ran a column by Drew Goins Feb. 19 criticizing actor Chris Pratt for attending a Los Angeles congregation, Zoe Church, that Goins said doesn’t fully affirm LGBTQ beliefs. Goins also found fault with Justin Bieber, Kylie Jenner and Selena Gomez for attending Hillsong Church. CNN, too, posted a similar column.
“It takes digging to unearth that these churches are as inhospitable to queer Christians as less-hip congregations,” Goins wrote. “... This obfuscation is a win-win deal for Hollywood's conservative Christians and the churches that give their patron stars plausible deniability. The celebrities get a place to worship and still seem woke, and Hillsong and its fellow churches get to raise their profiles.
“Unsuspecting LGBTQ worshipers, on the other hand, get nothing but the eventual shock that they're surrounded by people who quietly condemn their identity,” Goins wrote.
CNN’s Feb. 20 column, by Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons, urged Pratt to take a public stand on the issue -- or even to leave his church.
“If the church does not affirm LGBTQ people, he has three options as an ally: Leave his church and join one that actually affirms LGBTQ people … stay and publicly voice his belief in a need to affirm LGBTQ Christians in his church or stop portraying himself as an LGBTQ ally,” Graves-Fitzsimmons wrote.
Both churches try to stay out of the political and cultural spotlight, although they nevertheless hold to traditional Christian teachings.
Oh. K. Um. But his church is infamously anti lgbtq so maybe address that too? https://t.co/meg8m69FeF— Ellen Page (@EllenPage) February 8, 2019
Pratt responded on Instagram, “Nothing could be further from the truth. I go to a church that opens their doors to absolutely everyone.”
Chris Pratt just posted this on his instagram story addressing his church. pic.twitter.com/eiEg4ICnXi— uncle jen (@tardypartypeter) February 11, 2019
The back and forth led Hillsong to release a statement. Pratt’s congregation, Zoe Church, is part of the Hillsong community. The statement said Hillsong is an “inclusive Christian church that loves, values and welcomes all people” and that it “adheres to mainstream biblical values shared by the overwhelming majority of evangelical Christian churches around the world, and millions of Christians across the USA.”
“Believing the teachings of the Bible and loving all people – including those who have different perspectives – are not mutually exclusive. In fact this is the very definition of tolerance and inclusiveness,” the statement read.
Goins criticized the statement, saying it was a form of “dog whistling.”
Conservative commentator David French, writing at National Review, called Goins’ column “one of the more intolerant Washington Post op-eds I’ve ever read.” Pratt’s “acceptance in Hollywood should not hinge on whether he swallows the politics and theology of radical cultural gatekeepers,” French wrote.
“One wonders what qualifies people like Goins and Page to authoritatively determine that traditional Christian theology is false, and one also wonders what enables them -- or the legions of people who, for example, attacked Karen Pence for teaching at a Christian school -- to enjoy the unique privilege of imposing their secular religion on others,” French wrote. “After all, a core (and very basic) tenet of pluralism is the notion that people of diametrically opposed belief systems can live and work side by side so long as they treat each other with dignity and respect.
“I’ve spent my entire career working with people who believe that my religious beliefs are wrong, that my stance on sexual morality is wrong, and that my political judgments are deeply misguided,” French wrote. “Yet even in the case of profound disagreement, it is easy to treat people well. It is easy to treat people fairly.”
Further, French wrote, it is the “height of intolerance” to believe that it is “somehow problematic” that a person “disagrees with you on matters of faith.”
“We cannot exist as a pluralistic and diverse society if the price of admission to any American industry is the abandonment of religious faith to conform to the demands of the intolerant,” French wrote. “If Hollywood ever becomes so radical that it no longer has space even for Hillsong, then Hollywood will stand opposed to the American experiment itself.”
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Christopher Polk/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.