Sunday, May 11, 2014

"Do you have anything to say about the HGTV/Benham Brothers Story?"

That's the question I got from the Huffington Post's Yasmine Hafiz via email last week. In case you misssed it, the Benham brothers are the guys who had their reality show un-optioned by HGTV when a bunch of their anti-gay, anti-women's reproductive freedom rhetoric surfaced.

Well, yes -- as a matter of fact -- I did have something to say. And here it is:
The First Amendment absolutely protects the right of the Benham brothers to preach, practice and believe whatever they choose – whether that choice is anti-gay or anti-gluten. That’s part of the beauty of this country. Another part of the beauty of this country is that free enterprise allows networks – like HGTV – the freedom to decide what kind of values they want represented by the talent they hire. And this week HGTV made the decision that it does not want to give air time to two brothers who, when they are not flipping houses for profit, are proclaiming that equal protection LGBT families is “demonic” and protesting a woman’s right to reproductive freedom.

As a Christian priest and pastor, my response is a big fat “Amen.”

The HGTV decision is not a war on Christians. It is not an attack on free speech. And it is not “anti-family” (whatever that means.) It is a business decision made based on the welcome reality that we are becoming a country where prejudice against LGBT people and their families is increasingly understood as counter to American values of liberty and justice for all.

I serve a church where we believe in family values that value all families and support a protect marriage movement that protects all marriages. When Jesus said “love your neighbor as yourself” there was no asterisk that said “*unless your neighbor is gay or lesbian” – and there are many, many Christians – as well as other people of faith and conscience – who find the views of the Benham brothers antithetical to their faith and values.

It is not fun to be fired. It is not pleasant to find your perspective disagreed with. But what has happened to the Benham brothers does not make them victims of the gay agenda. It makes them a footnote in the story of the arc of history that is bending toward justice for LGBT people.
And yes, I got a quote in her story. You can read that here. And THAT resulted in another email ... this one from Mali (I know -- I had to look it up, too.)
My partner and I just read your quote about the cancellation of "Flip It Forward" on HGTV, We are cheering you on from West Africa where we live and teach! Bravo for putting this issue in the proper perspective, and for putting in their place those who preach intolerance and hatred.

Keep up the good work ...
Will do, guys. Thanks for taking time to write. Happy Mother's Day, Everybody!


Unknown said...

It's ironic that you would quote the Lord Jesus when he said "love your neighbor as yourself", and yet miss the central teaching that the "neighbor" he is highlighting in that passage would be some one precisely like the Benham Bros - i.e. some one with whom you vehemently disagree.

If one cheers at their loss (as you did (Amen!)), then how can one claim that they truly "love their neighbor", as the Lord commanded?


Because I don't accept the premise that "loving your neighbor" requires you to put up with the toxic narratives of bigotry and homophobia.

My "amen" was to HGTV coming down on the side of values that value all families -- not label LGBT familes as "demonic."

(Perhaps you missed the part where I defended their right to believe whatever they choose to as being protected by the 1st Amendment.)

Thanks for taking time to comment!