Twins Jason and David Benham found out Wednesday their pro-life and pro-family values aren’t welcome at HGTV. The brothers were five weeks into filming a new show with six families learning how to work together to flip a house.
Flip It Forward, was set to air in October, and an HGTV promo touted that in each episode, “the guys help a deserving family find a fixer-upper and transform it into their forever home.” But HGTV has a large LGBT audience, and Ellen DeGeneres recently announced her own design show on the network. Activist group Right Wing Watch dug into the Benhams’ lives and brought down the politically correct hammer.
Most of the “dirt” that Right Wing Watch found on the brothers actually came from their father, Flip Benham, a preacher and colorful pro-life activist. But the group didn’t get all its facts straight. It misattributed a blog post to Flip Benham that appears to blame 9/11 on America’s acceptance of abortion. Activists also touted protests against a mosque near Ground Zero that Flip Benham attended, where some people chanted “God hates Muslims.”
But David and Jason Benham haven’t participated in all of their father’s activism. The serial entrepreneurs have spent more than 10 years building a multi-state business for real-estate consulting—and just about anything else a homeowner might need. David is a married father of five, and Jason is a married father of four.
David is indeed an active pro-life and pro-family speaker. During a rally outside the 2012 Democratic National Convention, he told fellow Christians who shared his worldview that “homosexuality and its agenda … is attacking our nation,” along with “demonic ideologies” in universities.
But when speaking to the other side, David wrote to men practicing homosexuality, “You’ll never find the love of a father in the arms of another man. The emotional hurt that you’ve experienced can only be healed through a life-giving relationship with the very one that created you. You are a precious gift of God. I encourage fellow North Carolinians to love and embrace you as a person.”
Such are the words of a “virulent anti-gay activist,” according to Right Wing Watch, which lobbied HGTV to end its relationship with the Benhams. The group also lambasted David for his “anti-choice” remarks. HGTV, perhaps not surprisingly given its audience, pulled the show. Officials with the network declined to give a reason for the cancellation.
The Benham’s experience is the latest attack on Christians living their faith in public. Why HGTV hired them from the start isn’t clear, since living the gospel is an explicit part of the Benhams’ business. Their company has an entire initiative geared to helping Christians find business opportunities to help fund their own mission work.
The Benhams haven’t said what course of action they plan to take. The organization behind Duck Dynasty’s fight to stay on A&E, Faith Driven Consumer, protested the Benhams’ “bullying” Thursday, using the hashtag #FlipThisDecision on social media. But the Benhams appear ready to give up the show.
“Woke up this morning to an even greater reality that Jesus is king!” David tweeted Thursday. “We must decrease—He must increase.” The brothers issued a joint statement as well, pledging, “If our faith costs us a television show then so be it.”
The brothers said their faith is inseparable from who they are and how they pour themselves into every family they work with. “As Christians, we are called to love our fellow man,” they said. “Anyone who suggests that we hate homosexuals or people of other faiths is either misinformed or lying.”
The Benhams were actually back on set Thursday, continuing to coach the families they’ve been working with on their house-flipping investments. “TV show or not—we are keeping to our commitment to help these six families!” David said.