The Daily Caller reports that SunTrust Banks is cutting ties with reality stars David and Jason Benham after public outcry over their conservative views on abortion and gay marriage. Then the Daily Caller publishes an update that SunTrust has reversed its decision, apparently after a new outcry from conservative supporters.
How did the Benham brothers first react to learning they were dropped?
“As Americans we find ourselves at a crossroads and are forced with a decision to either stand up or sit down,” David Benham said. “Evidently, SunTrust’s longstanding commitment to diversity must not include our historic Christian values.”Then came this strong defense of the Benham brothers by Faith Driven Consumer founder Chris Stone:
“SunTrust Banks appears to have punished David and Jason Benham by taking action against their business purely based on their Christian beliefs,” said Chris Stone, the founder of Faith Driven Consumer. “This sends a loud and clear message to people of faith in America, you’re not welcome at SunTrust, take your business somewhere else.”And finally this nifty PR placement by SunTrust Banks spokeswoman Beth McKenna:
Added McKenna: “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.”Here lies the beauty of our capitalist system. In the absence of any manipulation, it does not discriminate in reflecting the will of its participants. All its participants.
While the Benham brothers lament a vast left-wing conspiracy by those opposed to their orthodox Christian values, their statement is simply a recognition that public opposition against their ideology is indeed vast enough to potentially cause them much financial pain in the marketplace.
“We were caught off-guard with this one,” David Benham said of SunTrust’s actions. “Keeping us off television wasn’t enough, now this agenda to silence wants us out of the marketplace.”The Benhams have made their choice, and the public has made ours. In my view, the brothers are free to believe whatever they want. How they choose to communicate, confront and act on their beliefs is also their own business, within proper legal and constitutional limits.
But to me the important takeaway is that while the Kochs et al have too often usurped our representative government and courts, our individual voices and choices still matter. I hope that every moment like this is a wakeup call for everyone to fully participate in our democracy.
Also, my hope for the Benhams is that they fully absorb this important lesson about why keeping personal religious beliefs out of the public square is smart for themselves and everyone else. Our nation's founders got that part correct, regardless of how right wing apologists try to rewrite history.