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Global fitness franchise fires local operator for saying LGBT Pride is a ‘sin’

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June 8, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) -- The international workout company CrossFit continued to display its LGBT support this week when it fired a high-profile employee Wednesday after he tweeted that celebrating “pride” is a sin.

Earlier this month, CrossFit fired an Indianapolis affiliate owner, Brandon Lowe, and closed his gym after he cancelled a special pride-themed workout at his facility, NBC reported.

“We believe that true health forever can only be found within humility, not pride,” Lowe had written in a communication. “Humility is seeing oneself as they truly are, and as God truly defines them to be. As a business, we will choose to deploy our resources towards those efforts and causes that line up with our own values and beliefs."

A CrossFit member started a Facebook boycott June 3, members began to cancel their memberships in protest, and by Tuesday, June 5, the CrossFit corporate office stepped in, firing Lowe and closing his location. 

Russell Berger, whose Twitter profile listed him as “chief knowledge officer” for CrossFit, tweeted support Wednesday for the CrossFit Infiltrate affiliate in Indianapolis after its decision to cancel the gay-specific workout.

It’s a sin

“Thank you #CrossFitInfiltrate for standing by your convictions and refusing to celebrate sin by hosting an @indypride workout,” he tweeted. “The intolerance of the LGBTQ ideology toward any alternative views is mind-blowing #CrossFit.”

Berger had also tweeted, "As someone who personally believes celebrating 'pride' is a sin, I'd like to personally encourage #CrossFitInfiltrate for standing by their convictions and refusing to host an @indypride workout. The intolerance of the LGBTQ ideology toward any alternative views is mind-blowing."

Berger’s tweets, which were on his personal Twitter account, have since been deleted.

“The tactics of some in the LGBTQ movement toward dissent is an existential treat to freedom of expression,” Berger had also said Wednesday on Twitter. “The lack of tolerance for disagreement, which has been replaced with bullying Twitter mobs promising ‘consequences,’ should be a concern regardless of your political stance.”

Berger was first put on unpaid leave Wednesday afternoon.

CrossFit: No matter how you love – we are proud of you

The CrossFit corporate Twitter account then tweeted, “CrossFit is a diverse community in every way, and that’s what makes us strong. No matter who you are, how you’re built, what you believe, or who or how you love — we are proud of you.”

The company then followed up with an announcement that it was firing Berger.

Reports vary on Berger’s actual title and function with his former employer. CrossFit termed him a "legal researcher," and he also has been referenced elsewhere as a de facto spokesman. He is co-author with an associate, Russell Greene of The Russells, of a blog apparently affiliated with CrossFit that focuses on scientific misconduct in the fitness field.

Berger lives in Huntsville, Alabama, and is a CrossFit trainer who opened up an early CrossFit affiliate. He told BuzzFeed News that he holds "orthodox, historic Christian beliefs" and is pastor for a local church.

CrossFit is a fitness program involving constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity, including gymnastics, weightlifting, running, rowing and other activities.

It was founded by Greg Glassman in Santa Cruz, California, in 2000, and has experienced explosive growth, with hundreds of millions in revenue and some 4 million devotees worldwide. Glassman is still its CEO.

Glassman told BuzzFeed just before Berger was placed on leave that he did not stand by Berger’s views, terming them “appalling.”

The CrossFit Twitter account quoted Glassman as saying, “I am crazy proud of the gay community in CrossFit.”

Some zealot

“He needs to take a big dose of ‘shut the f*ck up' and hide out for awhile. It’s sad,” Glassman told BuzzFeed. “We do so much good work with such pure hearts — to have some zealot in his off-time do something this stupid, we’re all upset. The whole company is upset. This changes his standing with us. What that looks like, I don’t know. It’s so unfortunate.”

The controversy has drawn debate from both sides of the homosexuality issue.

Conservative commentator Erick Ericskson shared BuzzFeed’s report and defended Berger, noting a parallel with the recent Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case involving a gay couple that sued a Christian baker for declining to make them a cake that would celebrate their gay wedding.

New contender for gayest sport on the planet

On Friday, CrossFit shared a Quartz Media report on Twitter with the headline “CrossFit is the new contender for gayest sport on the planet,” the article about how the fitness program is increasingly appealing to gay men.

The tweet sharing the article also quoted Glassman, saying:

Berger linked to a Washington Post article Thursday afternoon on his Twitter feed, saying the Post had quoted his statement on the matter in full, inviting followers to check them out.

Berger said he used the word “sin” because “that’s what God’s Word calls it.”

“As a Christian, I believe everyone, myself included, is guilty of breaking our moral obligations to God and deserves punishment,” he told the Post via text. “But by turning from our sin and trusting fully in Jesus Christ, we can be forgiven and reconciled to our creator. I love those who the LGBTQ community represents, and want them to know Christ, and reveling in sin is a heartbreaking obstacle to that.

“I use the word ‘sin’ to describe pride events, and the sexual lifestyles associated with them, because that’s what God’s Word calls it,” he said, “and I believe that God’s Word is true.”

“The same theology that leads me to this view leads me to the knowledge that all humans are created in God’s image, and are therefore inherently valuable and deserve to hear this offer of God’s grace,” he added. “From the Christian perspective, the most hateful thing I could do for someone would be to lie to him or her about sin and our need for Christ, as unpopular as this may be in our culture today.”

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