David and Jason Benham
HGTV: Charlotte, North Carolina
Former professional baseball players and twin brothers David and Jason Benham were set to launch a home-flipping show on HGTV in October 2014. In May 2014, they found out that their program was being canceled before it even started. The HGTV network had jumped at the concept of two siblings helping families buy homes they never thought they could afford. In fact, the project was so far along that the Benhams had already filmed several episodes in preparation for the series. As sons of a preacher, the brothers have never shied away from their beliefs, which led them to support the North Carolina marriage amendment—a stance that found them at odds with radical pro-homosexual activists like GLAAD.
Faced with HGTV's decision to pull their show, the Benhams released a statement indicating, "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." They also said, "[w]e were saddened to hear HGTV's decision. 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."
On May 14, 2014, David and Jason Benham learned that SunTrust Bank would be dropping them from their list of financial partners and cutting ties with them, despite their "preferred broker" status. According to Daily Caller's Alex Pappas, who broke the story, SunTrust "has pulled all of its listed properties with the Benham brothers' bank-owned property business, which includes several franchises across four states." The news came as a total shock to the brothers, without any warning or explanation. "If our faith costs us our HGTV show and our business, then so be it," Jason said in a statement. "We were just caught off guard with this one. Keeping us off television wasn't enough—now this agenda to silence wants us out of the marketplace." Pressed for answers, SunTrust refused to explain. "As Americans," the Benhams explained, "we find ourselves at a crossroads and are forced with a decision to either stand up or sit down. Evidently, SunTrust's longstanding commitment to diversity must not include our historic Christian values."
Barely a day after SunTrust Bank dropped the Benham brothers from their property listings, the company was so overwhelmed by customer complaints that it reconsidered. In a tweet to fans, the brothers cheered the move. "Today SunTrust heard from you. Our listings have been returned to our talented and hard-working franchisees." Beth McKenna, a SunTrust spokesperson, said only that the bank "clarified" its policies with a "vendor" and reinstated the brothers' property partnership. "SunTrust supports the rights of all Americans to fully exercise their freedoms granted under the Constitution, including those with respect to free speech and freedom of religion."
In February 2015, David and Jason Benham released Whatever the Cost: Facing Your Fears, Dying to Your Dreams, and Living Powerfully, a book outlining biblical principles to help Christians "revolutionize their work and family life, and give them the courage to stand up for what is right."
Photo credit: Courtesy of the Benham brothers
David & Jason Benham Radio interview with Tony Perkins