Why flip out over Christian contractors in HGTV flap?

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The Benham twins' proposed home makeover show has been cut off the HGTV fall schedule, reportedly because of their views on God, gays and abortion. Photo via YouTube.

Photo via YouTube

The Benham twins' proposed home makeover show has been cut off the HGTV fall schedule, reportedly because of their views on God, gays and abortion. Photo via YouTube.

In the Bible that David and Jason Benham rely on, John 14:2 says, “In my Father’s house are many rooms…”

But in HGTVs  fall schedule, there’s no longer room for the Benhams’ home makeover reality show. And news that their pilot was not picked up for a series has ignited another broadcasting brouhaha over God and gays and who can host entertainment shows.

It’s Duck Dynasty redux… sort of.

This time, instead of the bearded patriarch of A&E in trouble for comments about gays and weird ideas about black people, it’s a social media teardown over the rehab twins’ harsh you-can-google-them views about homosexuality and abortion.

Not typical House and Garden TV fare. I know because I religiously follow the squabbling realtor and designer duo on Love it or List It, the adorable dudes on The Property Brothers, the terminally cheerful gal known as The Rehab Addict, even the I-think-its-phony House Hunters.

Yet, I have no idea whatsoever what faith these realtors and contractors and designers profess other than their ritualistic obsession with open concept floor plans.

Neither have I ever heard the Lord’s name invoked on these shows except during the inevitable “reveal” where the homeowners are led into their redone abode and they gasp, “Oh My God!”

So it is with some surprise that I read that HGTV has cancelled down the Benhams’ Property Brothers knockoff pilot, Flip it Forward after RightWingWatch.org flipped out over the brothers’ views. The site easily found online evidence of the Benhams as devout Christians, Liberty University grads, who also actively oppose gay marriage and abortion rights. (Remember, folks, Christian faith and conservative political views actually are not synonymous).

According to USA TODAY, David Benham protested outside of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte in 2012, in an effort, he told a radio host, to halt the homosexual agenda. And the  twins’ father is Flip Benham, an outspoken anti-abortion activist who is now the director of Operation Rescue.

The Benhams’ response to the GHTV cancellation is to say, “If our faith costs us a television show then so be it.” Their Facebook statement says:

Anyone who suggests that we hate homosexuals or people of other faiths is either misinformed or lying. 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.

There’s also a Twitter campaign (#flipthisdecision) demanding that HGTV restore the show. And, no surprise, supporters of the HGTV decision are repurposing the hashtag to celebrate banning the Benhams.

Like I said, Duck Dynasty redux. Although Phil Robertson survived the flap and continues to flourish, at least the discussion prompted many to reexamine their public – and maybe even their private – views about how to share an open society.

That brings me to my question about the HGTV Flip It flap.

Unless the Benham brothers planned to conduct spiritual screening for clients on TV, or they broke employment laws against discrimination in hiring their crews or they refused to choose any non-Christians for their makeover magic, where’s the beef here?

Video courtesy of Liberty University via YouTube

Don’t like them? Don’t watch them. Bad ratings are a faster way to kill a show than any political blowup.

But can I watch people whose religious, social or political views may not be my own (even those who insist an island in every kitchen) take a sledgehammer to a mildewed basement wall? Sure.

After all, how many sports teams do we follow without knowing or agreeing with the players? How many movies do we see where the stars may live lives we deplore off camera?

If the Benhams’ show were cancelled because its description is a thinly-veiled knock off of The Property Brothers, who would notice or care?

I’m pretty clearly against open concept floor plans but open minds work for me.

  • Larry

    Get your facts straight, please.

    The Benhams show was never actually aired. It was a pilot for a series which was not picked up. Producers have no duty to pick up or even air a pilot. If there is a potential controversy which would doom a show, it is a simple business decision to avoid picking it up.

    Of course nothing stops any other network or channel from deciding to air the pilot or pick up the series now that HGTV has passed on it. If anyone wants them, they can have them.

    Duck Dynasty has the benefit of already airing for several seasons. The brouhaha had a distinct PR/marketing ploy bent to it for A&E. The “suspension” lasted long enough for the box sets to hit chain stores for Christmas shopping.

  • Brendan

    The reality is that for the last several years HGTV has stood for Homo and Gay Television. Much of the upper leadership is gay and the rest have been brainwashed or bullied into going along. The company claims a “core value” of diversity but, as proven here, diverse opinion is tolerated only as long as it falls within the proper politically correct boundaries. People who feel differently are labeled as haters or homophobes and are cast aside as quickly as possible.

    The irony is that HGTV is the actual homophobe. They are scared to death of the LGBT community. Think this is about freedom, diversity and doing the right thing? Think again. No doubt HGTV will try to claim the high moral ground but in reality it is simple dollars and cents. They simply can’t afford to offend such an important segment of their viewing audience.

  • Frank

    I am glad things like this are happening. Maybe more people will wake up and see that there is a militant homosexual agenda that actively persecutes Christians for their faith. Wake up America!

  • Larry

    Nah, they were genuine haters and miscreants with a long family history of harassing people in the name of the Lord. Not just gays but also Muslims, women and anyone stumping for abortion rights.

    Plenty of other channels can pick up the pilot. But its not worth the effort. One home flipping show is as good as another. A show which will cause advertisers to run for cover is not worth picking up.

    Btw there is nothing more pathetic than the “you are intolerant of my intolerance” argument that bigots seem to like these days.

  • Larry
  • CarrotCakeMan

    I really feel sorry for Brendan. Look at all that cognitive dissonance! But attacking the majority of Americans who support their family members, friends, neighbors and coworkers who are LGBT isn’t going to advance Brendan’s anti-gay agenda. Hopefully some friend from his past will help Brendan step back from the abyss and he will free himself from his irrational fear and hatred of LGBT Americans.

  • CarrotCakeMan

    That’s what anti-gays like you have been saying since Anita Bryant, Frank, but instead of you making anti-gay converts, you have shown Americans that anti-gays are the problem here. If you get caught posting anti-gay Hate Speech like that at work, you’ll be fired too. Even an anti-gay employer knows that’s bad for business in a country where the majority are tired of anti-gays WHINING.

  • Doc Anthony

    Or perhaps Brendan will accept the fact that LGBT itself is an irrational, cult-like religion that uses bullying tactics to get what its activists want.

    Is it okay if he accepts that one fact, CCM?

  • I just watched an interview with Benham Twins on CNN. First of all, their claim that the views of Christians were being “silenced” is BS, since many Gay people ARE Christian, and many Christian churches support equality for Gay Americans. And when they talk about the sinister “Gay Agenda,” they never detail what that “agenda” is. Well, Straight people have never had to worry about being fired from their jobs, kicked out of their rental properties, turned away from businesses, or denied the right to marry the person they love just because of THEIR sexual orientation. I don’t think it’s asking too much that Gay people shouldn’t have to worry about these things either. THAT’S what the “Gay Agenda” is.

    David Benham has made it abundantly clear that he thinks marriage equality for law-abiding, taxpaying Gay couples is somehow “attacking the nation,” and that, “We are not going to allow the demonic forces and agendas behind them to destroy life.”

    Sorry, but I think that goes a little beyond the pale. David Benham may say he doesn’t HATE anyone, but the animosity he has often expressed toward Muslims and Gay people is all I need to know. He has every right to his prejudices, but he does NOT have a right to a program on a private TV network.

    But who knows? Maybe the Benham Twins can get a time slot on the Trinity Broadcasting Network or Fox News.

  • I was a U.S. Navy medic in two wars; The vast majority of the U.S. Soldiers, Marines, etc. I served with cared not a whit about somebody’s else’s skin color,ethnicity, religion or sexual preferences but they felt deeply about the freedom of Americans and particularly their freedom of speech. Many of them died horrible deaths (literally in my arms) to prove the point.
    I don’t know of ANY mention of hatefulness, homophobia,etc. on the Benhams’ programs; I think this is all that matters.

  • Larry

    @Richard Vidacovich MD
    If you are unaware of Benham hatefulness its because you never bothered to look.

    Check this out and come back to me

    “What the announcement didn’t mention is that at least one of the Benhams is not just a real estate dealer but also a dedicated right-wing activist in the mold of his father, Flip Benham, who has headed the abortion-clinic protest group Operation Save America ever since it split from the militant anti-choice group Operation Rescue.

    As leader of OSA, Benham has condemned the interfaith Sandy Hook memorial, protested in front of mosques while shouting “Jesus Hates Muslims” and blamed the Aurora shooting on the Democratic Party, which he said promotes a “culture of death.”

    He has also protested LGBT pride events, interrupted church services during a sermon by “sodomite Episcopalian bishop” Gene Robinson and was found “guilty of stalking a Charlotte abortion doctor after passing out hundreds of ‘wanted’ posters with the physician’s name and photo on it.” OSA* even blamed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on abortion rights:”

  • Larry

    Nope. They were doomed from the outset.

    Too much of a history of sectarian bigoted wackadoodlery. If not gays then they would just rail against Muslims, ecumenialists or mainstream Christians. The show, if it ever got picked up by a Non-Bible thumping broadcaster would have alienated half of the sponsors and viewership within its first season.

  • Kelly

    Wow–disappointing to find a defense of these brothers, their family and their discriminatory “christian” activism on the RNS site. As a lesbian living in North Carolina whose full equality and civil rights were denied with the support and activism of the Benham’s and their supporters, whose inequality they helped enshrine in the state constitution, I can say that theirs is not a “in my father’s house are many rooms” kind of theology. It’s an exclusive and discriminatory and “no room at the inn” kind of theology. Offensive. Hard-hearted. Certainly not a theology that recognizes all people as God’s children. They’ll get paid plenty by the right-wing anti-gay, anti-woman crowd to troll their offensive theology and whine about their victimization. I’m depressed to read such a defense of them here that dismisses the hurt and diminishment and inequality they’ve promoted against citizens in NC.

  • I’m with you, Cathy. Especially on the predictability of the open floor plan. I brake for floor plans: http://barbarafalconernewhall.com/2014/05/01/i-brake-for-floor-plans/

  • Please Folks, I’m not defending anything anybody says off-screen; but I don’t judge people by what someone else says about them. Obviously these guys were also hurt by criticism from other folks (didn’t they lose out on a likely lucrative TV program?) Why should I believe just your side when I don’t know anything about them except what I see of them on their show? I would probably watch YOUR shows and probably buy your stuff as long as nobody yelled at me.
    !’ve been a physician for 55 years and have treated murderers, serial rapists, pedophiles, nazis(after the war), communists and wounded viet cong prisoners who just destroyed a village and were spitting on me the whole time I was trying to help them. I long ago took an oath not to judge anyone except according to their suffering, be it physical or mental. I have absolutely no problem with what they do in their Day Job while I’m trying to save their lives..After I wash my face I might feel taken advantage of but I leave that up to (in alphabetical order in case I’m wrong) Allah, Budda, God ,Yaweh and any others I may have missed. But I sleep well at night!
    Please just read my first note and try hearing what I’m saying; I’m not judging ANYBODY (including you guys) until I get ALL the facts! God (or Whoever) Bless.

  • CarrotCakeMan

    It’s sad to see this forum isn’t moderated.

  • Larry

    Richard Vidacovich, you are full of crap.

    ” I don’t know anything about them except what I see of them on their show?”

    You never saw their show. Nobody did. Their show was never aired. It was a pilot which was not picked up by the network.

    First you claim there is no evidence of their hateful actions/speech. When given examples of it, you now attack its credibility. Its not because you have evidence to the contrary, but because you have some feeling that somehow untrue as “my side”. Why should you believe the article I linked for you? Because you have no compelling reason not to.

    Spinning yarns of past military service does not absolve you from telling fibs.

  • Jon

    Here is yet another case of Christian privilege. If someone in a non-protected group (say, Muslim, gay, atheist, etc.) spouted that kind of bigotry and hatred – just as bad as racism, then their show would be pulled as appropriate and everyone would be glad for that.

    Yet, bigotry is OK if that bigotry is based on Christianity, and the bigot is a Christian. Then, instead of being held accountable, the person is molly coddled, gets a defense from so many people, and even gets a twitter-based defense.

    Sad to see – especially when a religion writer supports the same Christian privilege. I would have expected better from RNS.

  • The Great God Pan

    “Although Phil Robertson survived the flap and continues to flourish, at least the discussion prompted many to reexamine their … views about how to share an open society.”

    Is it Cathy Lynn Grossman’s view on sharing an open society that conservative Christians can say whatever they want, and nobody had better “flip out” by daring to express disagreement with them? Have I got that right?

  • Larry

    Pretty much. That two conservative Christians can harass and publicly attack anyone they want with no repercussions or bad will resulting from it.

  • Joseph Styles

    I must confess that I find this entire article rather strange. Neither the original story in Right Wing Watch nor the statement by HGTV appears to blame the cancellation of the projected show on the Benham brothers’ Christianity, but on their alleged bigotry. The Benhams appear to defend themselves against these accusations of bigotry by claiming that they are merely following their Christian faith. The author of this articles appears to privilege the Benham’s claim to Christianity over Right Wing Watch’s claim that the Benham’s are bigots, but then undercuts such apparent priviliging by stating that Christian and “conservative political views” are not synonymous.
    Confusing much?

  • James

    As the author notes the bible says “In my Father’s house are many rooms…”. In other words there are many other channels these two brothers can do a show on. It is not that surprising that a network that has open gays on its staff and many gay viewers would decide these twin brothers are not a good fit for their network. No one is guaranteed a TV show.

  • John

    Freedom for everyone except conservative Christians seems to be the going mantra for progressive leftists these days. The idea of freedom as a core value for everyone on an equal basis is fast fading in American society.

  • John

    Not sure we are creating an “open” society here or one that is closed. A true genuine pluralistic society would be open and tolerant of all views including those critical of popular morality. It would celebrate a diversity of voices and viewpoints including those which disagree with one’s own. It would recognize that respect and dissent are key to freedom of speech in an open pluralistic society. But what I observe is the majority imposing a gag order on those who are critical of contemporary sexual ethics. There is a big difference between saying you disagree with someone and fining them, firing them, excluding them from work, jobs, and positions because of religious beliefs.

  • John

    I find it amazing how many liberals will claim God loves everyone, God is father of all, there is room for all and use all those passages of holy books but freely ignore any passage from a holy book that places any expectation on teh part of the human for their relationship with their god. The only gods I see in the liberal spectrum is the pantheon of various human dieties as each person decides for himself what is right and wrong and what it means to be religious and cherry picks from holy books words they like and ignores the words they don’t like. Religion on both left and right looks more and more like hubris and arrogance and nothing but a tool used to serve oneself.

  • John

    Good point.

  • John

    Strange. Because being fined, loosing jobs, positions is exactly the kind of pressure the left is bringing against Christians who do not believe homosexual behavior is sanctioned by God. So is our nation going to be in the business of only allowing liberal homosexual supporting Christianity to operate and going to use every power mechanism possible to shut down conservative voices if they dare to exercise their constitutional freedom of speech and religion.

    Is America going to remain the land of the free?

  • John

    is this the kind of America you want.

    The suppression of freedom of speech and religion based on the values of the majority with the utilization of every possible power structure including the loss of job and income.

    Do you really want this kind of America?

    Is this technique necessary to advance freedom for homosexuals? Is the only possible way to take freedom away from others? Is the homosexual equality argument not strong enough to stand on its own? Do we have to create a totalitarian culture to safeguard homosexuals?

  • Larry

    John, you are full of crap.

    Bigoted Christians try to give their views the color of law. To make it legal to force people out of employment, housing or commerce because of their religious based prejudices. There is no parity here.

    Nobody is shutting down their voices either. The bigots have lobby groups, political strength and plenty of outlets to express their views. Its just Christians don’t like to be told “No”. When people take offense to obnoxious and uncivil behavior by them, the Christians whine about “persecution”. Its just martyrbaiting.

    You are entitled to your own view, its just nobody has to take it seriously or live according to it. Our laws don’t have to conform to it either.

    That being said, the Benhams uncivil behavior made them a liability for a TV program which would have microscopic ratings even if successful. There was not enough money in it for HGTV to bother.

  • Larry

    Funny how diversity with conservative Christians only means their views are the ones heard or taken seriously.

    When dealing with denominations or faiths which differ from their own, the fundamentalist christian is the first to deny those groups are even a valid religion. They are the first to look for ways to not only ban other voices but to abuse the laws to do it.

    Nothing stopped the Benhams from acting like equine rear quarters in public. It is that free expression which came to bite them on the behind.

    Free speech and religious freedom does not mean you get to act or say things without criticism or repercussions. It just means the laws stay out of the way.

  • Larry

    The cold equations of television production are enough to keep it away.

    Since it was a pilot HGTV had no commitment to produce the show. If it seemed to controversial and alienating to advertisers, it makes no financial sense to pick it up. A “home flipping” show is one of a small appeal. Although cheap to produce, they also are not big ratings grabbers and fairly interchangeable.

  • Frank


  • Larry

    Conservatives, fundamentalist Christians, bigots, they already have politicians, a political party, and fingers in every form of media.

    Who is keeping them silent? Librul Media? Hardly.

    Peddle your persecution complex elsewhere.

  • Larry

    In other words when people disagree with you on religious matters, they are not really believers anyway. When in doubt insult the religious beliefs of anyone whose views are different from your own.

  • michael

    this comment is all you really need to read on this thread.

  • Jonna

    You seem to know everything about everybody, Larry. No wonder you don’t need God.

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  • Joseph Styles

    I must admit that I do not see how the Benham brothers are losing their religious freedom–indeed, they remain very vocal in their (claimed Christian) hostility to something they call the “gay agenda.”

    But does even the largest view of freedom entail entitlement to a television show?

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