Canceled reality show stars: HGTV knew about our religious beliefs
CONCORD, NC (WBTV) - A pair of twin brothers is speaking out after Home & Garden Television (HGTV) canceled their new reality show, which was set to launch Fall 2014, after a watch group issued a report on the brothers' "extreme right-wing views."
The announcement from HGTV came on Wednesday afternoon.
In a statement on social media, HGTV said it "decided not to move forward with the Benham Brothers' series."
The company was referring to Concord-based brothers David and Jason Benham who were set to star in a new show called "Flip It Forward" this fall.
On Tuesday, HGTV announced it was "reviewing all information about the Benhams" after a group "dedicated to monitoring and reporting on the activities of right-wing political organizations" issued a report on the Benhams.
Right Wing Watch reported that David Benham is a "right-wing activist who has campaigned against LGBT equality and reproductive rights, taking after his father, preacher Flip Benham."
Phillip "Flip" Benham is a minister and head of the protest group, Operation Save America, which is based out of Concord.
The group claims it "unashamedly takes up the cause of preborn children in the name of Jesus Christ. We employ only biblical principles."
Rev. Benham was convicted of stalking a Charlotte abortion doctor in 2011 after passing out hundreds of "wanted" posters with the physician's name and photo on it.
He was sentenced to 18 months of probation and ordered to stop any intimidating behaviors.
Prosecutors said Benham distributed photos with the names and photos of several Charlotte doctors who perform abortions and the words "Wanted ... By Christ, to Stop Killing Babies."
The brothers released a statement on Thursday morning to WBTV.
"We 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," it read in part.
"If our faith costs us a television show then so be it."
In a press conference Thursday afternoon, Jason and David Benham said HGTV has been aware of their religious beliefs for over a year.
"They found some things on the Internet that we said that could easily be misconstrued, and so they said 'you know what let's talk about it'," David said. "'What do you guys really feel? What do you believe?' And Jason and I met face to face with one of the executives, and after that meeting they said 'you know what there's not a drop of hate in these guys hearts'."
"Jason and I have gone round and round with our Dad so many times about things we disagree with and he has said things that gets pinned on us," David told WBTV.
They said anyone who suggests that they 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," their statement read. "And we do not, nor will we ever discriminate against people who do not share our views."
"We sell houses to homosexuals. We remodel homes for Muslims. I mean, we love them all," David said.
"Some things that were said about us are completely untrue," Jason added.
The brothers' marketing representative says he's still hopeful that HGTV will change its mind about canceling the show.
On the Benhams' website, they said the show would feature the brothers guiding families "who are new to house flipping as they find the right place, fix it up and flip it."
WBTV reached out to HGTV for additional information about the show's cancellation.
"HGTV is not moving forward with the Benham Brothers' series at this time," a network officials told WBTV. "We're not commenting beyond this statement. Thank you."
"Yesterday, when the Twitter bomb started through Right Wing Watch, that's when the heat rose for HGTV," Jason said.
The Benham brothers have said they don't condone homosexuality.
Concord resident Gladys Streeter says if you announce that you disapprove of a lifestyle "That's discrimination as far as I'm concerned," she says. "It is."
But Mitch Mase, also a Concord resident, says their feelings on it shouldn't matter.
"I think TV stations are too cautious when it comes to religious beliefs," he said. "They don't want to make anybody mad."
McKenzie Miller, also in Concord, points out that other shows feature controversial figures.
"If you don't like it, don't watch it. It's just like Duck Dynasty. A lot of people don't like Duck Dynasty and they didn't get kicked off the air," she said.
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