SunTrust Bank will continue to do business with David and Jason Benham, reversing course after the twin brothers publicly announced the bank had cut ties.
SunTrust said a “third party vendor” had misapplied corporate policy in severing ties with the real-estate entrepreneurs — who lost a cable TV show a week ago over their Christian beliefs on marriage and abortion.
Early this afternoon, the Benham brothers put out a statement confirming that SunTrust had pulled all of its listed properties with the Concord, N.C.-based brothers and several franchisees across the nation, the Independent Tribune reported.
“We were caught off-guard with this one,” David Benham said.
But late this afternoon SunTrust released a statement that read, in part:
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.
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. We clarified our policies with our vendor and the issue has been resolved.
The Daily Caller reported that a surge of outrage, especially among the bank’s conservative customers, prompted SunTrust to quickly reverse the move made against Benham Real Estate by its unnamed third-party vendor.
“The Left is overreaching, and ordinary Americans are not OK with the new intolerance,” Heritage Foundation scholar Ryan T. Anderson, who writes about religious liberty and marriage, told The Foundry. “As in the cases of ‘Duck Dynasty’ and Cracker Barrel, public reaction in support of the First Amendment makes companies reconsider. They can’t afford to alienate their customers.”
The Benhams drew national attention last week when the HGTV cable channel dropped their reality show, “Flip It Forward,” before airing the first episode. The ax fell, the brothers said, after a liberal website called Right Wing Watch labeled them “anti-gay” and “anti-choice” because of their biblical opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion.
As The Foundry reported earlier this week, the Benhams had pronounced themselves willing to trust their TV plans and livelihoods to God and “the free market.”