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Rodney Ho covers TV and radio, from Atlanta’s stations to the hottest “American Idol" news.

SunTrust denies deliberately cutting ties with would-be HGTV hosts over their conservative views

Atlanta-based SunTrust Bank denies it deliberately cut ties with twins David and Jason Benham, real estate brokers who were set to have an HGTV show until a liberal group raised a fuss over their conservative views on abortion, Muslims and gays.

The Benhams released a statement today, portraying themselves as victims of efforts by the left to hurt their business. Here it is, in part:

SunTrust Bank has 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 Benhams, as well as several of their franchisees, have enjoyed a mutually productive working relationship with SunTrust for many years, even holding "preferred broker" status. SunTrust was contacted but declined to explain why they fired these brokers.

David Benham explained, "We were caught off-guard with this one. Keeping us off television wasn't enough, now this agenda to silence wants us out of the marketplace."

Jason Benham added, "If our faith costs us our HGTV show and our business, then so be it."

(TheDailyCaller ran a more extensive piece about the situation.)

UPDATE: 5:17 p.m. SunTrust said the issue was resolved and the listings are back up.

HGTV had started shooting a show "Flip it Forward" featuring the North Carolina twins but last week cut them without explanation. The brothers believe their Christian evangelical beliefs cost them their show. Right Wing Watch said David Benham led a prayer rally in 2012 to "stop homosexuality and its agenda that is attacking the nation," among other comments. He also told anti-gay activist Michael Brown in 2012 that the "homosexual agenda" was part of "demonic forces and agendas," along with Islam and abortion rights.

In response, the brothers said they don't hate gays or people of other faiths."

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David also alleged in a 2012 interview with anti-gay activist Michael Brown that the “homosexual agenda” —along with Islam and abortion rights — are part of “demonic forces and agendas.” - See more at: http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/david-benham-his-own-words-gays-destructive-vile-controlled-demonic-forces#sthash.4VfRspl3.dpuf

"With all of the grotesque things that can be seen and heard on television today you would think there would be room for two twin brothers who are faithful to our families, committed to biblical principles and dedicated professionals," they said in a statement after HGTV cut them.

SunTrust's statement came soon after the brother's, saying the decision was not theirs and they don't base decisions on "political factors":

SunTrust supports the rights of all Americans to fully exercise their freedoms granted under the Constitution, including those with respect to free speech and freedom of religion.

Mid-2013, we consolidated the management of certain residential assets with a third party vendor, which has the relationship with Benham Real Estate.  While we do not publicly comment on specific vendor relationships, we don’t make choices on suppliers nor base business decisions on political factors, nor do we direct our third party vendors to do so.

The characterization in the media with respect to this matter is inaccurate.   We are contacting our third party supplier who works with Benham Real Estate  to clarify our policies.

 

About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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