The Benham brothers
The Benham brothers

The Benham blues are your blues, too

Religious Liberty

Here we go again. Having just come off the Brendan Eich scandal—the scandal being that Mozilla essentially fired him—and not long after the Phil Robertson flap, we now have the Benham brothers, David and Jason, a pair of evangelical Christian real estate developers, under commercial assault for publicly voicing a biblical moral stance. Get used to it.

HGTV had plans for a television show in which the Benham twins would “leverage their good-natured sibling rivalry to help families find a fixer-upper and transform it into the dream home they never thought they could afford.” But the network dropped the idea just two days after the liberal activist group Right Wing Watch raised a ruckus over the Benhams’ statements and activities opposing same-sex marriage and abortion. Seven days later, Atlanta-based SunTrust Bank decided to end its business relationship with the brothers, though by the end of the next day SunTrust reversed its decision. David Benham remarked, “Keeping us off television wasn’t enough, now this agenda to silence wants us out of the marketplace.”

They have not yet designed a scarlet letter or a distinguishing armband for the cultural outlaws who dissent from the post-Christian cultural norms, but one or the other is surely not far off.

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Notice what the empowered secular left does when it declares a matter “settled.” We have seen this in the global warming/climate change debate. They say “the science is in” and “the question is settled,” and so any disagreement must indicate an evil, dishonest agenda. The current discussion of homosexuality is the same way. There is no discussion. There is no possible ground for dissent. More than 6,000 years of worldwide moral tradition, of serious theological and philosophical reflection, mean nothing. Conscientious objection can only stem from a hate-filled heart. Disagreement is evidence of mendacity and must be punished with extreme intolerance lest one becomes complicit in the morally intolerable views.

When I was traveling in Europe as a college student, my friends and I rented a room one night in a woman’s home in little Rothenburg. We noticed a picture of Adolf Hitler hanging in her grown son’s bedroom. We were horrified. Yes, it’s like that.

After we slew the Nazi beast in ’45, we imposed a process of denazification. So too the post-Christian establishment is purging the Christian understanding of sex, marriage, and family from anyone of any influence. The Miami Dolphins fined, suspended, and sentenced their safety Don Jones to “educational training” after he tweeted that the sight of gay St Louis Rams draft pick Michael Sam kissing his boyfriend on live national television was “horrible.” Cal Thomas draws the obvious connection to “the old communist ‘re-education’ camps.”

The message is settling in: Christians (for now) may sing and pray and bow and practice their sacraments in the enclosed spaces of their churches. But they may not voice their appalling moral sentiments in public, much less act on them. And if your pastor utters social heresy in a publicly accessible recording, any position of public influence you have or seek hangs by a thread.

American Christians are relatively indifferent to the persecution of the church around the world. We are still waking up to our own vulnerability here at home.

D.C. Innes
D.C. Innes

D.C. is associate professor of politics at The King's College in New York City and co-author of Left, Right, and Christ: Evangelical Faith in Politics (Russell Media). Follow D.C. on Twitter @DCInnes1.


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