Exclusive: SunTrust Cuts Business Ties With Benham Brothers After Conservative Views Attacked

 

 

Exclusive: SunTrust Cuts Business Ties With Benham Brothers After Conservative Views Attacked

 

First they lost their television show. Now the Benham brothers say they are losing their business.

SunTrust Banks is cutting ties with would-be reality stars David and Jason Benham after liberal activists attacked them for their conservative views on abortion and gay marriage, The Daily Caller has learned.

In a statement provided first to TheDC on Friday, the Benham brothers confirmed that SunTrust Banks has pulled all of its listed properties with the Benham brothers’ bank-owned property business, which includes several franchisees across four states.

The move comes just a week after HGTV announced it was canceling a planned home renovation show hosted by the brothers.

“If our faith costs us our HGTV show and our business, then so be it,” said Jason Benham on Friday.

“We were caught off-guard with this one,” David Benham said of SunTrust’s actions. “Keeping us off television wasn’t enough, now this agenda to silence wants us out of the marketplace.”

The Benhams, in their statement, said the news came “without warning or explanation from SunTrust and took place over a 15 minute period” on Thursday. The Brothers said they have had a “mutually productive working relationship with SunTrust for many years” and hold a ”preferred broker” status with the bank.

The brothers said they contacted SunTrust, but bank employees declined to explain the reasoning for what happened.

Benhams

Reached for comment by TheDC on Friday, SunTrust corporate spokesman Mike McCoy would not say whether the Benhams’ political views impacted their decision.

“We continuously review our supplier relationships and changes to the list of companies we rely on for services is a natural part of our business, however we do not publicly comment on specific vender relationships,” McCoy told TheDC.

In their statement, the Benhams said they “recognize SunTrust’s right to hire or fire any real estate broker they choose but do not support the decision” to fire independent franchisees that are associated with them. Many of these franchisees, they said, “do not hold the same beliefs” they do.

“As Americans we find ourselves at a crossroads and are forced with a decision to either stand up or sit down,” David Benham said. “Evidently, SunTrust’s longstanding commitment to diversity must not include our historic Christian values.”

One such franchisee is Joel Morimanno of Benham Real Estate of SW Florida.

“I believe SunTrust has requested a blanket reassignment of all Benham Brother listings across the nation because of their Christian beliefs,” Morimanno said in a statement to TheDC.

“The success of my business is based on my performance,” he said. “I work hard to maintain a Preferred Status with all my clients. It appears that SunTrust simply reassigned the listing based on other external factors.”

In an email obtained by TheDC, Morimanno was told by SunTrust’s third-party asset management company: “Unfortunately the seller (SunTrust) is asking for this property to be re-assigned. This was the direct clients (SunTrust) request. I really appreciate all your efforts on this property…This one is out of our control. It is really nothing you did.”

“It is highly unusual for a big asset manager to reassign assets without cause. I even offered to waive my commissions on the sale of the property but they refused and said they were required to reassign the property,” Morimanno explained.

Benham REO Group, the brothers’ main company, “offers streamlined and scaled property management solutions to bank clients for the purposes of liquidating large volumes of foreclosed properties in the Carolinas,” according to its website.

“Having served more than 200 Bank clients and managed/sold over 6,500 foreclosed properties since its inception, the Benham Real Estate Group also provides home buyers/sellers/investors with a highly trained sales team that specializes in working with people interested in purchasing REO property,” the website said.

The Benhams were set to host a new home-renovation show on the Home and Garden Television network called “Flip It Forward.”

 But all that changed after an obscure website called Right Wing Watch drew negative attention to the Benham’s conservative views with the headline, “HGTV Picks Anti-Gay, Anti-Choice Extremist For New Reality TV Show.”

The story shed light on how the hosts’ father, Flip Benham, is an outspoken evangelical minister who leads an anti-abortion group. It also revealed that David Benhan led a prayer rally in Charlotte during the Democratic National Convention and has spoken out against gay marriage.

As TheDC reported earlier this week, the hit on the Benham brothers started with the anti-Christian conservative movement in Hollywood. Right Wing Watch, the website that first attacked the brothers, is a project of the liberal advocacy group People for the American Way, which started with an assist from the left-wing Tides Foundation.

People for the American Way was founded with help from former television Norman Lear, a Hollywood executive producer credited with starting the anti-Christian-right movement in the 1980s.

This is how HGTV described the proposed Benham Brothers show last month, which was not expected to be about politics: “Flip It Forward will feature real estate entrepreneurs and dads, David Benham and Jason Benham, as they leverage their good-natured sibling rivalry to help families find a fixer-upper and transform it into the dream home they never thought they could afford.”

There has been a conservative backlash to the HGTV decision. A group, Faith Driven Consumer, has now launched an effort in support of the Benham brothers called FlipThisDecision.com. Nearly 18,000 people have a signed a petition asking the television network to reverse its decision.

Chris Stone, the founder of Faith Driven Consumer, called SunTrust “discriminatory, intolerant, and in direct opposition everything that America is about.” He said the organization will actively seek new banks “who will welcome” the Benham brothers “along with all of the other people that they serve.”

“SunTrust’s actions have effectively put into place a belief-oriented litmus test for its business partners seeking to compete in the marketplace of goods, services, and ideas,” Stone said.

“SunTrust Banks appears to have punished David and Jason Benham by taking action against their business purely based on their Christian beliefs,” he added. “This sends a loud and clear message to people of faith in America, you’re not welcome at SunTrust, take your business somewhere else.”

 

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2014/05/16/exclusive-suntrust-cuts-business-ties-with-benham-brothers-after-conservative-views-attacked/2/#ixzz31trU3Dvw

The New Fascism Rolls On

The New Fascism Rolls On 
Now it’s twin brothers with a home-decorating show who can’t hold heterodox political views. 

Another day, another witch hunt — this time in duplicate. “Twin brothers David and Jason Benham,” CNN reports, “have lost their opportunity to host their own HGTV show.” On Tuesday, the pair was gearing up for their new role; by sundown the next day, the network had announced tersely that it had “decided not to move forward with the Benham Brothers’ series.” And that, as they say, was that.

HGTV’s mind was allegedly changed by a post on the blog Right Wing Watch, where the duo was described as being “anti-gay” and “anti-choice.” That post, David Benham told Erin Burnett yesterday, “was too much for them to bear — they had to make a business decision.” How sad. Certainly, the Benhams hold some heterodox views. They are not merely opposed to abortion and gay marriage, but critical of divorce, adultery, Islam, pornography, “perversion,” the “demonic ideologies” that have crept into the nation’s “universities and . . . public school systems,” and the general culture of “activist” homosexuality, which, David contends, is inextricably tied up with a wider “agenda that is attacking the nation.” But so bloody what? They were tapped to host a home-improvement show, not rewrite the Constitution.

Per Right Wing Watch’s rather hysterical indictment, the brothers’ main crimes against humanity are to have “led a prayer rally,” talked a few times on the radio, written a few articles, and — shock! — been involved in “protests outside of abortion clinics” and “at a 2009 LGBT event.” In other words, to have taken to the public square and to have spoken — an activity free societies have traditionally tended to cherish. Did they bring their views into their work environment, impose them upon their employees and their clients, or physically threaten anybody who disagrees with them? Of course not. “We’ve been running a successful real estate company for the last eleven years, and we help all people,” Jason Benham told CNN. “There is no discrimination.”

Jason’s brother, David, concurred, explaining that,

we love all people. I love homosexuals. I love Islam, Muslims, and my brother and I would never discriminate. Never have we — never would we.

Fair enough. But, as the likes of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Alec Baldwin, Paula Deen, Dick Metcalf, and Phil Robertson have recently learned, these days one doesn’t need to actually do anything in order to become persona non grata. Before he was defenestrated for the high crime of having donated to California’s Proposition 8, Mozilla’s short-lived CEO, Brendan Eich, made it clear that he considered it his responsibility to ensure that his company remained “a place that includes and supports everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, economic status, or religion.” It counted for nothing.

Predictably, the boycott-and-divest Left is thrilled by the scalp. “You can be plenty offensive and stay on TV as long as your show’s a hit,” Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams lamented this week. Nevertheless, she continued, “thanks to social media, it may be becoming a little harder to be offensive and actually get on TV in the first place.” “I guess,” she concluded, “we’ll call that progress.” That’s one word for it, certainly. Another one might be “McCarthyism.” Americans with unfashionable views do not have a right to have television shows. But, as Twitter’s David Burge likes to point out, “nobody had a right to be a Hollywood screenwriter in 1948” either.

As a rule, the term “McCarthyite” is too lazily and too readily thrown around. Here, though, it is somewhat appropriate. At its root, McCarthy’s contention was that because free nations are vulnerable at their edges, they are on occasion justified in persecuting their radicals. Today’s inquisitors take a similar approach, Erin Ching, a student at Swarthmore College, telling reporters in Februrary that “what really bothered” her was “the whole idea that, at a liberal arts college, we need to be hearing a diversity of opinion.” More specifically, Ching objected to “tolerating conservative views.” Why? “Because that dominant culture embeds these deep inequalities in our society.” And so, it must be repressed.

Future students of language will wonder at the period in our history in which it was said with a straight face that diversity required uniformity, tolerance necessitated intolerance, and liberalism called for dogma. Of late, we have been told that Brandeis University is simply too open-minded to hear from a critic of Islam, that Mozilla believes too vehemently in “freedom of speech” to refrain from punishing a man for his private views, and that a respect for the audience of a show about duck hunting demands that we suspend a man for expressing his religious views in an unrelated interview. “Never,” David Benham confirmed in an interview with CNN, “have I spoken against homosexuals, as individuals, and gone against them. I speak about an agenda.” Later, he added that “that’s really what the point of this is — that there is an agenda that is seeking to silence the voices of men and women of faith.” Say, now where might he have got hold of that idea?

— Charles C. W. Cooke is a staff writer at National Review.

 

HGTV Pulls New Home-Flipping Series After Report Emerges that they are Christians who oppose abortion and Same Sex Marriage.

HGTV Pulls New Home-Flipping Series After Report Emerges that they are Christians who oppose abortion and Same Sex Marriage. 

By  | Wednesday May 7, 2014 @ 12:22pm PDT

benhamsAfter the group Right Wing Watch reported the twins who star in HGTV’s recently greenlit reality series Flip It Forward are anti-gay activists, the network said this morning it had given the hook to the series, which was set to debut in October. Yesterday, HGTV said it was “currently in the process of reviewing all information about the Benhams and we will provide an update as soon as possible.” Then came a tweet today:

Right Wing Watch reported Tuesday that David Benham had led a prayer rally outside of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC in 2012, in which he told conservative radio host Janet Mefferd that America’s Christian majority must repent for tolerating  “homosexuality and its agenda that is attacking the nation” and “demonic ideologies tak[ing] our universities and our public school systems.” He also said his brother had joined him in the prayer protest. The group also claimed David leads protests outside of abortion clinics.

HGTV announced at its upfront presentation last month in Los Angeles that it had picked up the home-flipping series about brothers David and Jason Benham. The network’s description of the show at the time: “After a decade of flipping houses for profit, brothers David Benham and Jason Benham now help families buy the homes they never thought they could afford. In each episode, the guys help a deserving family find a fixer-upper and transform it into their forever home — with a healthy dose of sibling rivalry between the brothers along the way.” At the same presentation, HGTV also announced it had greenlighted a design competition show from Ellen DeGeneres.