The creator and director of the hit Bible-based series The Chosen is responding to a social media controversy about an LGBT Pride flag spotted on set, saying the company employs Christians and non-Christians alike who are excellent at their craft.
“We have made very clear from the beginning that there is no religious or political litmus test for our cast and crew, for anyone who is qualified to help us, help me tell this story,” Dallas Jenkins told The Christian Post. “We are not a church in which all of our employees are going to fit under one particular mission statement, one particular belief system.”
The social media storm picked up steam when The Daily Wire wrote a story about it alongside a photo of a crew member’s small, hand-sized Pride flag displayed on a piece of equipment. Daily Wire CEO Jeremy Boreing later apologized for the story, saying it should not have run. The flag was spotted in a behind-the-scenes video.
“When we hire someone to work for us, our number one objective is: Who is the best person for this job? They come from a broad spectrum of beliefs, politically, spiritually, lack thereof – all of that,” Jenkins said. “... We made a decision from the beginning that our standard is going to be: Will you work hard? And of course, if someone's harming someone else, or if someone's vulgar, obviously, that's not a place for any professional environment.
“But when it comes to their personal belief systems, or what they want to wear or whatever, we're not going to do what we've seen other people do, where sometimes you'll see a Christian not allowed to wear a hat or express themselves or put a sticker on their desk that expresses their beliefs. And we always think that that's unfortunate when an employer does something like that. We're not going to do the same in reverse.”
As long as cast and crew members are working hard and making an excellent product, Jenkins said, “we think our viewers should be saying ‘thank you,’ especially to those who might have different beliefs than we do and yet are still willing to work their tails off for the show and for the message of the show.”
The series’ gospel-centric message can have a positive impact on non-believers on set, Jenkins said. For example, Nick Shakoour, who portrays Zebedee in The Chosen, became a Christian in recent months. Shakoour recently spoke to Christian Headlines about his conversion.
“Nick has been very open about the fact that he has come to faith in Christ because of the show, and because of our relationship and the people that we've introduced him to,” Jenkins said. “… He’s not the only one.”
Jenkins also addressed the Pride flag issue in a Facebook post.
“We’ve made it clear from the beginning we don’t have a religious or political litmus test for who can work on our show,” Jenkins wrote. “I love our cast and crew, especially because even though they all come from different backgrounds and beliefs, they work their butts off for the show and the viewers. The show’s official stance on anything is to be found in the content of the show. In the meantime, the work is too important to care much about noise from strangers. We press forward, same as always, never making decisions based on the response to them.”
Photo courtesy: Brielle French/Unsplash
Video courtesy: ©The Chosen
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.