- (Photo: Benham Brothers)
The Benham Brothers, whose planned reality show was canceled because of their conservative views on homosexuality, were dropped by SunTrust Banks this week. The brothers believe it is part of a move to silence Christian views in the marketplace.
"If our faith costs us our HGTV show and our business, then so be it," Jason Benham said on Facebook Friday.
David Benham said they were "caught off-guard" when SunTrust pulled all of its listed properties with the Benham brothers and several franchisees across the U.S.
"This came without warning or explanation from SunTrust and took place over a 15 minute period on May 15, 2014," the brothers noted.
SunTrust corporate spokesman Mike McCoy did not specify whether the brothers' conservative views were behind the 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 said.
Earlier in May, the brothers' planned HGTV show "Flip It Forward," which was going to be about the brothers flipping houses for profit and helping other families do the same, was canceled.
HGTV's decision came after website Right Wing Watch published a post labeling David as an "anti-gay, anti-choice extremist" for leading a 2012 prayer rally outside of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. During the rally, he called homosexuality a sin.
The show's cancellation sparked debate online, with David Benham arguing that "there's an agenda that's out in America right now that demands silence, especially from men and women who profess Jesus Christ and hold to His standards."
After the surprising move by SunTrust this week, the brothers are even more convinced that Christians are being marginalized. "Keeping us off television wasn't enough, now this agenda to silence wants us out of the marketplace," said David Benham.
Conservative Christian group Faith Driven Consumer, which has been campaigning in support of the Benham brothers, believes SunTrust is punishing them simply because of their Christian beliefs.
"This sends a loud and clear message to people of faith in America, you're not welcome at SunTrust, take your business somewhere else," Faith Driven Consumer founder Chris Stone said.
"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. This is discriminatory, intolerant, and in direct opposition everything that America is about."
The Benhams said that although they recognize that SunTrust has the right to hire or fire any real estate brokers the bank chooses, they do not support the decision to fire independent franchisees that are associated with them. Many of them do not hold the same beliefs as the brothers.
SunTrust declined to explain to the brothers why they fired the brokers.
"As Americans we find ourselves at a crossroads and are forced with a decision to either stand up or sit down," David Benham commented. "Evidently, SunTrust's longstanding commitment to diversity must not include our historic Christian values."