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Benham Brothers Lose HGTV Show to Gay Agenda

WEB Benham Brothers

KD Photography/Benham Bros

Rachel Lu - published on 05/09/14

Homosexual activists successfully pursue witch-hunt. Should we finally get worried about the future?

Twin brothers David and Jason Benham were gearing up to host a new show for HGTV’s fall lineup, when the network let them know that plans had changed. The Benhams have eleven years’ experience running a successful real estate company, and in their show, “Flip It Forward,” the brothers were planning to help families buy houses they thought were out of their price range.

The concept was good. The brothers were likeable. The problem arose when a liberal media site, Right Wing Watch, wrote a post claiming that the brothers were right wing extremists who had, among other things, led a prayer rally outside the Democratic Convention in Charlotte in 2012. Most problematic, unsurprisingly, were their views on abortion and same-sex marriage.

In a CNN interview Thursday night, both brothers emphasized that they had no hatred for homosexuals, that they regarded all people with love, and that they had never in the context of their business discriminated against anyone. Their prayers and protests were directed at a political agenda, not at people. Further, the network had known about their political leanings when they originally approved the show. But the prospect of regular heckling from left-wing media was apparently too much pressure for the network.

Private networks are entitled to make their own decisions about programming, of course. But the Benham brothers are only the latest in what is becoming a long list of people who have lost jobs or professional opportunities in light of peaceful, legal, and non-hateful advocacy for traditional marriage.

A number of small business owners have been sued for refusing to cater same-sex weddings, and high-level jobs have been lost over out-of-office political advocacy or donations. Many of these people were by all accounts entirely fair and professional in the workplace. The most recent, Brendan Eich, had not himself even engaged in any kind of advocacy. His only crime was to make a donation to the Proposition 8 campaign in California. That was back in 2008, when even Barack Obama claimed to regard marriage as a heterosexual union. Nevertheless, Eich’s donation, paired with his refusal to “recant” the position, was enough to get him driven out as the CEO of the tech company Mozilla.

Religious believers may find themselves wondering: is this the new normal? If people can now lose jobs over serious and compassionate advocacy of traditional moral views, who can tell what might come next? Arm bands? Detention camps? Having myself been cited by Media Matters (a George-Soros-funded liberal bully pulpit) for my opposition to “marriage equality,” I guess I’d better not look for a job with HGTV. That’s not too crushing for me, but it’s hard not to muse on what else might happen. Will my kids one day be forced to resign from the student council or give up the lead in the school play because other parents uncovered my “bigoted” advocacy? Anything seems possible.

We think about these things because the mainstream culture seems so utterly unreasonable and lacking in good faith. If liberals were at least trying to distinguish between unreasoned hatred (which can indeed be directed against homosexuals in reprehensible ways) and thoughtful disagreement, we might suppose that time and dialogue would eventually enable us to find modus vivendi that everyone could tolerate. Some really are trying to advance that goal. Others seem eager to punish and ostracize traditional marriage supporters through every possible method.

Faithful Christians should certainly be preparing themselves for the possibility of more extreme persecution. The Benham brothers will not be the last to face a serious penalty for their witness to the truth. In such circumstances, we should find strength in Christ’s promise that those who make sacrifices for his sake will be rewarded many times over in Heaven. As Catholics, we should ask the saints and martyrs for their support and prayers. They have ample experience of persecution and sacrifice that can be brought to bear on the modern situation.

But even as we prepare for the worst, we should be careful not to assume it. Putting ourselves in company with the martyrs can be uplifting, but it can lead us to cast our political opponents as villains beyond redemption. Both for our sake and for theirs, we should not be too hasty to draw that conclusion. Our culture is in a precarious position right now, and there are multiple possibilities for how it might develop. If we can, we should continue offering opportunities for fair-minded dialogue and reasonable compromise. Some liberals do seem to want this, and certainly a large portion of the American public does.

Looking through the eyes of a liberal progressive, we might realize that they themselves are in an insecure position at the moment. In some ways their political agenda has been extremely successful, but this has been a mixed blessing even for those who thought they wanted it. In attaining its political goals, the “marriage equality” movement has revealed the cracks in its own narrative. As I have argued elsewhere, same-sex marriage crusaders have long viewed their movement as a kind of replay of the Civil Rights Movement, that being the part of American history they admire the most. Unfortunately, the comparison is wildly misleading on multiple levels. They themselves are beginning to realize this, and it’s precipitated something of an identity crisis. Some, like Jonathan Rauch, are calling on fellow liberals to be more reasonable. Others are becoming even more shrill about forcing this square peg into its round hole. That’s what we’re seeing in the aggressive efforts to tar traditional marriage supporters as bigots.

It’s hard to tell at this point who will win. Cultural change is always hard to predict, especially because it is always influenced by factors external to the central debate (wars, technological developments, economic shifts and so forth). The best thing for Christians at this point is to patiently continue with our gentle and reasonable advocacy, while remembering that all things are held in the Providence of God.

Rachel Luteaches philosophy at the University of St. Thomas and writes for Crisis Magazine and The Federalist. Follow her on Twitter at @rclu.

FaithHomosexualityReligious Freedom
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