A pair of Christian brothers have had their upcoming home improvement show pulled from the popular HGTV network over comments one of them made about abortion, homosexuality, and same-sex "marriage."
David and Jason Benham, twin brothers from North Carolina who are renowned for “flipping” houses — purchasing ramshackle and needy dwellings, refurbishing them, and selling them at a profit — were set to debut their show Flip It Forward on the HGTV network in October.
But on May 6 a politically motivated attack group calling itself Right Wing Watch revealed that the two committed Christians and former pro baseball players are the sons of outspoken pro-life leader Flip Benham, founder of Operation Save America. In the mid-1990s the elder Benham befriended Norma McCorvey, “Jane Roe” of the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the United States, ultimately leading her to faith in Christ and a change in her views on abortion.
In its report Right Wing Watch recalled that in September 2012 David Benham organized a prayer rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, called Charlotte 7:14 — based on the scripture 2 Chronicles 7:14 — that coincided with the 2012 Democratic National Convention taking place in the community. The rally was focused on praying for change in the nation, especially concerning issues such as abortion and same-sex "marriage." According to the attack group, during a media interview David "said that America’s Christian majority must repent for tolerating abortion rights, no-fault divorce, legal pornography, ‘homosexuality and its agenda that is attacking the nation’ and the ‘demonic ideologies’ that he says have taken over the education system.”
According to CNN, last April HGTV issued a press release announcing the upcoming Flip It Forward show, noting that “after a decade of flipping houses for profit, brothers David Benham and Jason Benham now help families buy the homes they never thought they could afford. In each episode, the guys help a deserving family find a fixer-upper and transform it into their forever home — with a healthy dose of sibling rivalry between the brothers along the way.”
But following the revelations from Right Wing Watch the network immediately issued a statement via Twitter announcing that “HGTV has decided not to move forward with the Benham Brothers’ series.”
In response, Jason Benham insisted to CNN that the HGTV network had fully investigated the pair and were aware of the comments his brother had made concerning the prayer rally. “When they — a year and a half ago — saw some of the footage where my brother was saying the things he was saying, they spoke with us,” recalled Jason. “They got to know us a little better and then they made a judgment call, recognizing that David and I have no hate in our heart for anyone. We've been running a successful real estate company for the last 11 years and we help all people. There is no discrimination.”
Similarly David Benham insisted: “We love all people. I love homosexuals. I love Islam, Muslims, and my brother and I would never discriminate. Never have we [and] never would we.” He added that he had never “spoken against homosexuals, as individuals, and gone against them. I speak about an agenda. And that's really what the point of this is — that there is an agenda that is seeking to silence the voices of men and women of faith.”
After the HGTV announcement, the Benham brothers issued a statement emphasizing that regardless of the network’s decision to back out of its commitment, they would continue to focus on using all opportunities to share their Christian faith. “The first and last thought on our minds as we begin and end each day is: have we shined Christ's light today?” the brothers said. “Our faith is the fundamental calling in our lives, and the centerpiece of who we are. As Christians we are called to love our fellow man. Anyone who suggests that we hate homosexuals or people of other faiths is either misinformed or lying.”
They noted that “over the last decade, we've sold thousands of homes with the guiding principle of producing value and breathing life into each family that has crossed our path, and we do not, nor will we ever discriminate against people who do not share our views.”
The brothers nonetheless admitted that the network's choice to pull their upcoming show was hurtful. “We were saddened to hear of HGTV's decision,” they said. “With all of the grotesque things that can be seen and heard on television today, you would think there would be room for two twin brothers who are faithful to our families, committed to biblical principles, and dedicated professionals. If our faith costs us a television show then so be it.”
In a YouTube video posted May 9, the Benham brothers said that despite HGTV's decision to pull the plug on their show, they would continue with their commitment to the six families who had been chosen to appear on upcoming episodes. “When we played baseball, our dad taught us to always run through first base,” said David Benham. “So when you hit a ball directly back to the pitcher and you are out before you even get out of the batter's box, you have a choice to make. Do I just walk back to the dugout or do I run through first base?... We ain't even out of the batter's box and we're out ... but we're going to run through first base, we're going to finish this for these six families. They deserve it, they came to us wanting to learn how to flip. With or without cameras we're going to teach them how to flip.”
He added that the reason is that “we live from the inside out. We don't live from the outside in. We don't need media, we don't need other people to tell us how to live. We live from the inside out. When we were 12 years old we accepted Jesus in our hearts and we live by a code with three Cs: Christ, character, and contentment.... We have Jesus Christ in our heart and because of that we love people. We love everyone and we also do our best to build character into our lives and the way God builds character is to go through hard times. Hard times produce perseverance and perseverance character and character hope.”
The brothers told CNN that they believe there is an active effort to silence the expression of Christian values in the public square, and to bully networks such as HGTV into following the pro-homosexual, pro-abortion line. “There's an agenda that's out in America right now that demands silence, especially from men and women who profess Jesus Christ and hold to His standards,” said David Benham.
As reported by The New American, last year the A&E network attempted to censure Phil Robertson, one of the stars of the popular program Duck Dynasty, when comments he had made about the sinfulness of homosexuality came to light. While homosexual activist groups applauded the network's actions to punish the Duck Dynasty patriarch, A&E officials soon backed down and invited Robertson back to the show when it became clear that a majority of viewers supported both his Christian values and his right to speak them publicly.
Tony Perkins of the conservative Christian Family Research Council noted that, just as in the case of A&E and Duck Dynasty, viewers are pushing back against A&E's decision to bow to the demands of homosexual activists in cutting ties with the Benhams. “It's the same plot, a different channel,” Perkins told Fox. “You have these cultural elites who are giving way to a tiny minority that want to silence, to bully those who have orthodox Christian views and are opposed to their liberal ideologies.”
Perkins noted that on the one hand “it's okay to advocate for animal rights, but it's not okay to advocate for the unborn. It's okay to abolish public prayer, but it's not okay to oppose the redefinition of marriage.”
He added that “what we're seeing is a small minority that is trying to silence the vast majority of Americans who hold to these traditional values.”