May 102014

Yes, I know, I’ve been absent for a  while. I have written constantly for work lately, so it’s hard to get in the mood to write more during my down time. But, those of you who know me, know I have opinions on lots of things, so I’m itching for some discussion.

Benham BrothersToday’s topic is a recent controversy related a pair of twin brothers from Charlotte, David and Jason Benham. The Benham brothers made a small fortune flipping homes, and were recently working on a HGTV show. What HGTV didn’t bother to find out was that the brothers have a particularly nasty streak when it comes to gays, abortion rights, and Muslims. When that came to light, that was the end of the show, and the beginning of their cries of persecution…because you know, the Constitution guarantees one the right to a TV show.

So let’s dissemble what went on here. The brothers are, from most perspectives, a made for TV set. They’re young and somewhat handsome. There are two of them (identical twins). They claim to be family oriented, wholesome and Christian, claiming all these missionary activities (more on that later). They’ve been successful flipping homes, and the premise of the show, called “Flipping it Forward,” (apparently in a nod to their “minister” father Flip Benham) which was to help people get in a home who might not otherwise be able to afford said home. Sounds like a noble project.

But, here’s where the problems begin, and like most problems, they begin at home. The twins’ father, as noted above, is Flip Benham. Papa Benham heads the militant anti-reproductive rights group, Operation Rescue. He splintered from that group to start Operation Save.

As leader of OSA, Papa 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.

And the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. The sons have been equally nasty in expressing their distaste for all things gay.

David Benham, led a prayer rally — Charlotte 7:14 — outside of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2012, which he told conservative radio host Janet Mefferd was needed to stop “homosexuality and its agenda that is attacking the nation” and “demonic ideologies tak[ing] our universities and our public school systems”

In a January 2012 interview, Benham explained his “love” for homosexuals when he suggested that gay people are under the control of “demonic forces,” arguing that once he succeeds in recriminalizing abortion, he will next defeat the “homosexual agenda” and Islam.

David equated fighting marriage equality with fighting Nazis, and at a City Council meeting in protest of a local pride parade, David and his twin brother, Jason,  referred to homosexuality as “destructive” and a “tragedy;” asserted that Jesus “refuses to leave [homosexuals] that way;”and Jason concluded by telling the council to “deny them every permit they ask for.”

Now, although we’re supposed to believe their attempts to deny gay people even receiving civil permits to exercise several rights under the Constitution…freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, equality under the law, they have, lately, made the following claim, “As Christians we are called to love our fellow-man. Anyone who suggests that we hate homosexuals or people of other faiths is either misinformed or lying … we do not, nor will we ever discriminate against people who do not share our views. Sorry boys, but I’m not buying it.

They’ve claimed they don’t hate gays, but simply believe that no one should have sex outside of marriage, but of course they were leaders in the anti-equality marriage amendment recently passed in North Carolina…so no sex for people before marriage…and oh, by the way, no marriage for those gay people we love so much.

So, of course the likes of Tony Perkins (head of the white KKK associated) SPLC-designated hate group, Family Research Center (FRC), and Bryan Fischer of the SPLC-designated hate group, American Family Association (AFA), Franklin Graham, Fox News’ resident homophobe Todd Starnes, and a host of others are trotting out the usual claims of martyrdom, persecution, and having their rights taken away.

Let’s start with Ms. Perkins:

“As sons of a preacher, the brothers have never shied away from their beliefs, which led them to back the North Carolina marriage amendment — a stance the brothers seem to now be paying for, thanks to radical pro-homosexual activists like GLAAD, whose only answer to real diversity is harassment. Now, the same cultural elitists that tried to bully the likes of ‘Duck Dynasty’ are back to silencing anyone who expresses biblical values — even if those values are expressed outside the workplace. That narrow-mindedness is sure to backfire here, since the Benhams’ goal, like Catholic Charities’, World Vision’s, and others’, was to help the less fortunate. Unfortunately, liberals don’t care who would be helped by people like the Benhams. Forcing their sexual ideology is more important than the compassion they say they practice. Sadly, this isn’t the first time the Left has been willing to punish hurting people in the name of political correctness.”

And now let’s take this on apart. Perkins, of course, starts with the whole “anyone who expresses biblical values—even if those values are expressed outside the workplace.” First, they always try to use this “biblical values, traditional marriage, family values, biblical marriage, etc.” Sorry guys. First off, there’s nothing the Bible (and I lead a study in the book) that says gay people can’t be married. Second, the sad reality is, there’s nothing in the Bible that speaks against gay people in loving relationships as we understand it today. Third, the concept of “biblical or traditional marriage” is way out there. I’m just wrapping up a study of 1 and 2 Samuel, which is full of little else but sex outside marriage, concubines, and polygamy. In the not too distant past, marriage was seen as an unequal relationship, with the woman the lesser party, and sometimes viewed as property. So, seriously Ms Perkins, stop with that bullshit already.

Then there’s that whole thing about expressing it “outside the workplace.” The problem is, the Benham boys had elected to have a workplace that was out in the public. This was to be a nationally televised show…not two guys sitting around in an office with a closed-door. You want the benefits of being exposed to the public, then that becomes your workplace, so the things you said, in public, become part of the record.

Oh, and Ms “lying for Jesus is always OK” Perkins, loves to always infer that “Right Wing Watch” is always lying about the things the krazy kristian kooks say…never mind that Right Wing Watch and the Commentator Accountability Project always fully source the quotes. They just hate having the proof of the hateful things they show brought into the light of day, and know that most of their listeners won’t bother to go check…so lying for Jesus, perfectly OK.

But the one I love most comes from his concern the statement, “… since the Benhams’ goal…was to help the less fortunate.” So, apparently these good god-fearing, young men can only help others if they’re getting paid by a network and have cameras rolling to document it. The Benham’s are sounding less Christian with every statement their supporters make.

Maybe I don’t do as much as I could to help others, but I feel I do a decent amount, and rarely does anyone else know about it.

We can always count on Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Idiocy Land) to compare gay people to Nazis because the show got cancelled. Let’s be clear. First, it’s time to stop diluting the unbelievable atrocities of the Nazis by comparing anything you don’t like to them. Louie’s not being carted off to a gas chamber, or being starved while performing forced labor…so, until then, STFU with the Nazi comparisons. Also, not one single gay rights organization called on HGTV to drop the show. HGTV exercised their rights under our capitalist system (something the Republicans are supposedly so enamored with), and decided the brothers just didn’t fit the image they want to have associated with their brand.

Todd Starnes of Fox News tweeted this, “Won’t be long before LGBT activists demand Christians be deported.”

I’m tired of this meme also. These folks always think they alone speak for all Christians (especially Franklin Graham).  They actually think they speak for God, and all Christianity, without realizing that they’re relative newcomers to the Christian game, and that lots of faiths, Christian and otherwise, don’t share their hatred of gays and Muslims, and don’t get terribly involved in the abortion debate.

In short, for those attempting to defend the Benham’s, Alvin McEwen over at Justice for All said it best:

You are not fooling anyone. It’s not accidental that none of you went into detail as to just how the so-called faith of the Benham brothers was expressed. Why do you believe that you can act like a gigantic ass and somehow be absolved from the consequences of your actions by simply claiming that “you are acting in accordance to your faith?’ This is not an issue of persecution. It’s an issue of a network deciding that it didn’t need the headache of attaching itself to the noxious reputations of two very mouthy, very extreme anti-gay, anti-choice, Islamophobic individuals.

I agree with your assertions that there is a serious problem when it comes to faith and the Christian religion in this country but it isn’t anti-Christian persecution. It’s how some people exploit Christianity to lie, bear false witness against their neighbor, act extremely obnoxious, self-righteous, nasty, hateful, and vindictive, but then suddenly take the form of Job counting his calamities when called to explain their actions.

The Benham brothers got what they deserved and the deliberate attempt to soft pedal their extreme behavior only proves that point.  It all goes back to the old adage that if you act like a decent human being, you will be treated like one.

The brothers were on the radio Friday for about 15 minutes with veteran LGBT activist and blogger Mike Rogers, sitting in for Ed Schultz on “The Ed Show,” and revealed they feel a torrent of persecution from what they see as “one small segment of culture,” namely, the LGBT community.

David Benham told Rogers, “when one of your beliefs forces you to be silent and gets pushed in a corner, then…”And Rogers shot back, “Who said you have to be silent?”

“Oh no, we’re not being silent,” Benham insisted, contradicting himself. “The thing is that it’s the agenda that demands our silence so that we can keep our profession. See, this threatens our livelihood at this point — and that’s what’s happening, America sees it.”

“I believe that as a result of my stance on biblical values in terms of sex outside of marriage, that I no longer can have a livelihood on the HGTV network,” Benham added. “That’s the silencing of it all.”

“It’s an agenda to beat back anyone that would disagree with its opinions or its statements,” Benham complained.

Sorry guys, but that’s the free market. If I go out and say incredibly hateful things about others, and those others might be customers of my employers product and services, then my employer has a right to not be associated with me, and those views. You have a right, which I would fight for, to go into the public square and say anything you want. You had that right at the City Council meeting you attended, and you have that right today and next week. You still have a right to have the same beliefs you had yesterday. You can still hate gay people and Muslims. You can still, tomorrow morning, go to the church of your choosing and pray to whatever god you choose to pray to…that hasn’t changed.

But you, and the others on the Christian right, haven’t yet figured out is that you don’t have a right to a TV show…Seriously guys, it’s not in the Constitution anywhere, I checked for you. And when you go into that public square to say whatever you want, all the Constitution does (and again, I checked) is protect your right to say it. Nowhere does it protect you from the consequences of being an asshole. Everyone else, not just your brand of Christians, has the same rights you do…that includes the right to call you out for what you say and do.

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