Charlotte, N.C., May 10, 2014 / 05:01 am
Twin brothers David and Jason Benham have said they are "saddened" that their reality show about giving houses to poor persons was cancelled following controversy over their opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.
"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," the two said in a May 8 statement.
"If our faith costs us a television show then so be it."
The Benham brothers are experienced in "house flipping," the renovation and resale of houses for profit. Their HGTV reality show "Flip it Forward" was set to premiere in October.
The show was to have emphasized the North Carolina twins' "sibling rivalry" as they help poor families "buy the homes they never thought they could afford" by transforming "fixer-upper" houses, HGTV said in an April press release.
The website Right Wing Watch, run by the political advocacy group People for the American Way, had charged that the channel had chosen an "anti-gay, anti-choice extremist" for its reality television show.
It cited David Benham's comments to a radio show host after a 2012 prayer rally he led outside of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
He said that despite so many professed American Christians "we have no-fault divorce; we have pornography and perversion; we have homosexuality and its agenda that is attacking the nation; we have adultery … we even have allowed demonic ideologies to take our universities and our public school systems while the church sits silent and just builds big churches," Benham had said.
The website objected to Benham's protests of abortion clinics, his support for North Carolina's traditional marriage amendment, and his criticism of Islam. It also criticized the views and actions of the brothers' father, Christian pastor Flip Benham.
The angle of Right Wing Watch's report was echoed in other press outlets; Entertainment Weekly characterized the dispute as an "anti-gay controversy."
On May 7 HGTV said it "decided not to move forward" with the planned TV series.
The Benham brothers' May 8 statement stressed their Christian duty "to love our fellow man."
"Anyone who suggests that we hate homosexuals or people of other faiths is either misinformed or lying."
The twin brothers said they would keep their commitment to the six families who had already been selected to receive a new house.
Jason Benham told CNN May 8 that HGTV channel had vetted him and his brother, and was aware of the footage.
"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."
David added, "we love all people. I love homosexuals. I love Islam, (and) Muslims, and my brother and I would never discriminate."
"Never have I ever spoken against homosexuals, as individuals, and gone against them. I speak about an agenda.
"And that's really what the point of this is -- is that there is an agenda that is seeking to silence the voices of men and women of faith."
James Arnold, editor of the legal group Alliance Defending Freedom's Alliance Alert, said the cancellation is "hardly the first time something like this has happened."
"Whether it was in television technology, or public health, we have seen this numerous times before."
He cited the controversy over "Duck Dynasty" television star Phil Robertson, who was suspended for crude remarks expressing bafflement at homosexual attraction, and the resignation of Mozilla co-founder Brendan Eich after activists targeted him for his $1,000 donation to California's amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Arnold contended that HGTV is "only the latest" to "blacklist individuals" for their views.
Supporters of the Benham brothers include the website Faith Driven Consumer, which is calling on HGTV to change its decision and rallying support on social with the hashtag #FlipThisDecision.