The Benham Brothers: Keeping the Faith
May 21, 2014 02:11PM ● Published by Jason Huddle
It was the fall of 2009. David and Jason Benham had just finished constructing a class A office building in the Concord Mills area and it was already nearly completely occupied by tenants and their own employees. Things seemed to be going well. Soon, however, everything almost came crashing down…literally. One of the Benhams’ employees looked out the back door to see that the hill on which the new building sat was crumbling. In a matter of seconds, the entire foundation had been compromised. The brothers immediately ran through the building to make sure everyone exited safely, as they did not know if the new structure would soon collapse into the trees below. Fortunately, it did not, but it was a devastating and costly blow to the two young real estate moguls. What ensued were lawsuits against the contractor and costly repairs to the foundation of the building. It would be well over a year before the Benhams would see their way through this particular storm.
Now, in much the same way, a new storm has formed over the Benhams, one that literally developed overnight. In July 2013, the twins were featured on the cover of Cabarrus Magazine. They were on the brink of signing with HGTV to star in a reality TV show that would focus on helping families renovate and flip houses they could not normally afford. The show was to be called Flip it Forward.
By now, most everyone knows the story. A self-proclaimed left-wing website lambasted the Benhams for comments David made in 2012, which the website said disparaged homosexuals. Without discussion, and despite the fact that HGTV was already aware of the Benhams’ religious beliefs (in fact, it’s what the brothers say initially attracted the network to them), their show was immediately canceled on the eve of releasing promotional trailers and while the show had already started production on six episodes.
In this world of social media, David’s and Jason’s names became known around the world almost instantaneously. Millions of people came out of the woodwork to both criticize and offer support for these men who have never been shy about their strong Christian beliefs. However, they were quick to point out that the quotes used against them were taken out of context.
“That was in the context of a prayer service and the church was the audience,” David told Cabarrus Magazine. “The smear campaign took my comments out of context and developed their own narrative, which developed a perception of us that was not reality.”
In an earlier statement following their firing by HGTV, the Benhams wrote,“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.”
As I sat and interviewed the Benham brothers, I could tell their countenance was, understandably, not as joyful as I have become accustomed to seeing in times past. But it is not self-pity that consumes them. On the contrary, they are sad for a nation that, they say, is losing its foundation, just as their building almost lost its foundation years ago.
“The fact that HGTV fired us based on one smear campaign – I feel bad for this country because we’re so governed by fear that we can’t see the forest for the trees,” David said. “In this age of ‘tolerance,’ we were fired for speaking our beliefs and not for our performance. Those beliefs, by the way, have helped us build a nationally-recognized company.”
However, the Benhams go on to point out that all hope is not lost in their eyes and they have no regrets. “We were supposed to do this,” David said. “There is no second-guessing. The millions of Americans who have voiced their support have given us a platform to tell others to be good employees, fathers and leaders, but to also stand up for your beliefs regardless of the consequences. That’s what’s going on in our nation. People are starting to dust off their bibles. That’s the way this nation will get rebuilt, when we return back to our biblical roots.”
“We want to be a part of building that foundation back,” Jason added.
So what are the lessons learned here? “When you follow Christ it will cost you something, and we’re walking through that right now,” Jason said. “But we’re not as concerned about our image as we are about being faithful to what God has called us to do…So many Christians are encouraged by seeing our stand. We don’t want to take any credit for that, but there’s a process you need to go through first. Boldness, apart from brokenness, makes you a bully – on both sides. You see, it’s a process. You’ve got to start from a place of repentance on your own issues. Then that will breed humility, and humble people love others. When you love others, then you can be bold. We encourage folks to be bold only after you’ve gone through this breaking process. Your greatest blessings are oftentimes found on the other side of your greatest fears. Whatever the fear is that’s standing in front of you, if you go through it, you’ll find the greatest blessing of all.”
As to what’s next, the Benhams certainly aren’t sitting around twiddling their thumbs. They are finishing out the six houses under construction and, it should be noted that HGTV is funding a good portion of that. The Benhams have offered to list the homes for free. They are also working on a book that has several major publishers interested. It has been reported that other networks are interested in picking up the show from HGTV, but the Benhams are quick to point out that they have had no discussions with any other networks.
If another secular network were to approach them, however, they say they’d be happy to talk with them. “We don’t discriminate. In the same way we wouldn’t discriminate against a customer in our business, neither would we discriminate against an employer,” David said. “We want to be a light to the world, not just inside the church. If another network called, we’d talk with them.”
Even after this experience, David and Jason Benham say they’re not going anywhere, and their faith and resolve are unshaken.
“The principles of our faith are what provide the foundation for our company,” David concluded. “Our desire has always been to build a strong community. That desire has been more firmly cemented than ever before, now that we’re on the national scene. We’re staying in Cabarrus County, and we’ll continue to work our business and raise our families here.”