HGTV nixes a show featuring fundamentalist Christian activists in record time


Brothers Jason, left, and David Benham are sons of the Rev. Flip Benham. (Doug Koontz/ For The Washington Post)

Well, that didn’t take long.

Home and Garden Television, a network for the home improvement and DIY obsessive, has canceled a planned television show featuring Jason and David Benham, twin brothers who are also fundamentalist Christian activists.

“Flip It Forward” was supposed to be a show about handling home renovations with a family and the help of the “good-natured sibling rivalry” of the Benham brothers.

But the Benhams are also well-known for their activism against abortion, same-sex marriage and no-fault divorce. Yet, it wasn’t until the Web site Right Wing Watch first highlighted their long past in the spotlight on these issues that HGTV responded.

In 2012, they led a protest a protest at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, through an initiative called Charlotte 7:14, in which they opposed the “homosexual agenda,” abortion and “demonic ideologies.”

Both brothers played professional baseball after college and went on to found a successful real estate business.

But even they admit that their business acumen is secondary to their religious fundamentalism.

The Rev. Flip Benham, front-center, prays with others on the steps of the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery, Ala., Monday morning, Aug. 25, 2003. About 100 demonstrators prayed Monday outside the Alabama Judicial Building, keeping up their opposition to a federal court order to remove a stone representation of the Ten Commandments from the building's rotunda. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
The Rev. Flip Benham, front-center, prays with others on the steps of the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery, Ala., in 2003. They were there to protest a federal court order to remove a stone representation of the Ten Commandments from the building’s rotunda. (Bill Haber/ AP)

“We never studied any business. We were never trained by a dad who had [a] business. We were trained to be biblical thinkers,” said David Benham in a Christian Broadcasting Network interview.

Not coincidentally, it seems the two are following in the footsteps of their father, the Rev. Flip Benham, who has frequently been arrested during protests against abortion, child pornography, and Disney World through his organization Operation Save America.

Right Wing Watch detailed his long history of bizarre antics:

As leader of OSA, 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 eventsinterrupted 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.” Benham even blamed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on abortion rights.

Initially, HGTV announced that it was “reviewing all information about the Benhams,” which is puzzling because most of the information is widely available.

By Wednesday afternoon, the show was canceled.

“HGTV has decided not to move forward with the Benham Brothers’ series,” the company wrote on Facebook.

To the causal viewer, HGTV seems broadly accepting of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. They frequently appear as characters on shows like “House Hunters” and “Love it or List it,” for example.

Some cursory research probably could have saved the network from this particular embarrassing episode.

Abby Phillip is a general assignment national reporter for the Washington Post. She can be reached at abby.phillip@washpost.com. On Twitter: @abbydphillip
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