CHARLOTTE, N.C. (BP) — Growing up in the home of a noted pro-life activist taught David and Jason Benham that standing up for one’s faith came with a price, one they are paying after losing their TV show, “Flip It Forward.”
The Benhams made nationwide headlines last May after Home and Garden Television (HGTV) cancelled the show before its planned premiere in the fall of 2014.
At the time, USA Today reported, “It appears, according to Towleroad.com, that HGTV was alerted to a … story by RightWingWatch.org, which looked into the background of the Benham brothers and found them to be ‘anti-gay, anti-choice extremists.'”
David, co-author of the newly-released memoir, “Whatever The Cost,” said he and his brother quickly decided they “needed to hit the issue head on” through sharing their story.
“The greater narrative is: Are we willing to stand for Jesus, no matter the cost, and in a very dark and trying time?” he said.
“If you say, ‘No, there’s not a targeting going on in our culture, you’re burying your head in the sand,” Jason, David’s identical twin brother, said.
“There are people who have taken a stand in Hollywood and now they can’t find a job. You see what happened with the Internal Revenue Service going after certain ministries and non-profits. That’s a cultural battle that will never end.”
Natives of Texas, the Benham brothers both attended Liberty University on baseball scholarships. The pair played with several major league organizations before establishing their nationally-recognized real estate firm and moving into homes on the same block in Charlotte, N.C.
In their new book, the brothers recall how their father, Flip Benham, got involved in pro-life work in the 1980s, first as a pastor and then as the leader of a national pro-life organization.
“We remember all too well what it was like back in those days, watching our dad get tossed around by police officers,” they write. “It made a big impact on our lives. We witnessed firsthand what it was like to stand for Jesus, whatever the cost.
“We didn’t realize it then, but watching our dad get beat up for defending the unborn created an insatiable appetite in us to become powerful men of God…. We all have avenues for responding to injustice in the world. The question is whether we are willing to take a stand.”
While the Benhams became household names after the cancellation of their TV show, their book traces their longstanding Christian heritage. They say it began with their father showing them how to live out one’s faith every day.
Later, Jason used those lessons to praise God despite grounding out on the last play of the game to ruin Liberty University’s chances of advancing in the college regional baseball tournament.
That prompted a columnist for the Tallahassee Democrat to remark about the player’s stance, something the writer said went against the grain of most Christian athletes.
“He wrote that typical athletes were quick to give God credit for helping them win a game,” Jason said. “But he (had) never seen one do it quite like this before in a loss. For this columnist, my testimony gave him pause to ponder faith in Jesus a bit deeper.”
This is the same faith that kept them from bending to the lure of fame and fortune a decade after they launched The Benham Companies, which had already been honored by several national business publications and organizations.
In their book, the brothers describe how they would never discriminate against a gay person appearing on their reality show. Yet, they said they refused to bend on their principles in favor of traditional marriage, pro-life causes and other issues.
“We can see what happens when a couple average dudes take a stand for biblical values,” David said recently. “… When Jason and I go speak now, almost everywhere we go a liberal blogger, magazine or web site twists our words and makes their own story.”
Jason noted, “From the foundation of time, it’s always been a battle between good and evil, and good always wins when good decides to take a stand. Look inside every human heart and there’s a battle that goes on, which plays itself out in culture.”
The Benhams, who attend a nondenominational church, worked with collaborating writer and Southern Baptist Scott Lamb to complete their memoir.
Lamb, who recently relocated to Nashville, Tenn., is the former director of theological research and editor for R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
While working on the book, Lamb said he learned the Benhams walked away from a sizable sum of money because they wouldn’t compromise their beliefs. He called the book an encouragement to other Christians to take similar actions.
“In America there is verbal and financial persecution, but recently in Egypt 21 Christians lost their heads,” Lamb said. “Whether we live in Egypt or Nashville, we better have that mindset — that life means nothing and we better be ready to lay down our life.
“I know they could have kept the TV show if they wanted to, if they had toned things down. But they knew they would have literally had to soft pedal everything that was dear to them.”