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CrossFit executive fired after saying LGBTQ ‘pride is a sin’ — but there's way more to this story
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CrossFit executive fired after saying LGBTQ ‘pride is a sin’ — but there's way more to this story

CrossFit fired Russell Berger, the sports fitness company's chief knowledge officer and de facto spokesman, Wednesday after he called out those who support LGBTQ pride as sinners.

What is the background?

An Indianapolis CrossFit gym cancelled a coach-planned LGBTQ event that was to be held this week. The special event was planned by coaches in support of Indy Pride.

According to WXIN-TV, the Indianapolis franchise opted to cancel the event because "the owners of the gym value health and wellness, and they believe that this event does not."

A further statement from the franchise explained their decision to cancel the event:

Our underlying goal for the staff and members at CrossFit Infiltrate and our other gyms CrossFit White River and University Ave CrossFit, is total health and well-being for the individual and the community. Total health involves the body, the emotions, relationships, and the spirit. At the foundational detractor from health, as we believe God sets the parameters for, is pride. We believe that true health forever can only be found within humility, not pride. 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.

The franchise faced immense backlash for their decision, which prompted the gym to release a second statement:

The unfortunate line that is being read about the gym grossly misrepresents what CrossFit Infiltrate stands for and what it believes. The majority of the reviews and statements being read about the gym largely point out that Infiltrate’s community has been incredible and welcoming and that the decision not to host an Indy Pride event is the reason we are called bigots or discriminative. However, let the history of the gym speak for itself and for the position we take in this divisive atmosphere, CrossFit Infiltrate welcomes, serves, and prioritizes training people to be fit and functional in body, mind, and spirit. It never has and never will be anything but welcoming to all human beings who live, move, and breathe in God’s world.

The backlash ultimately forced the franchise to shut down.

A notice shared on Twitter read, "CrossFit Infiltrate has determined that it will no longer operate its business at this location."

So what did Berger say?

Berger shared a Wednesday tweet lauding the Indianapolis franchise for canceling the event, and condemned LGBTQ supporters. Naturally, Berger's comments went viral.

“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," Berger wrote in a since-deleted tweet.

He added, "The intolerance of the LGBTQ ideology toward any alternative views is mind-blowing. The tactics of some in the LGBTQ movement toward dissent is an existential threat to freedom of expression. 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 also said, "The tactics of some in the LGBTQ movement toward dissent is an existential threat to freedom of expression," according to Buzzfeed News.

What did the company say about his remarks?

After the tweet sparked massive outrage and went viral, the company issued a statement on Twitter revealing Berger's fate with the company and condemning his remarks.

"Effective immediately, Russell Berger has been placed on unpaid leave while management completes a thorough review," an initial tweet stated.

A follow-up tweet explained that they do not stand by Berger's tweet:  "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."

Shortly thereafter, the company tweeted that Berger had been terminated.

"The statements made today by Russell Berger do not reflect the views of CrossFit Inc. For this reason, his employment with CrossFit has been terminated," the company added.

Anything else?

Greg Glassman, CrossFit CEO, told Buzzfeed News that "zealot" Berger's remarks were inappropriate, to say the least.

"[Berger] needs to take a big dose of 'Shut the f*** up' and hide out for awhile," Glassman told the outlet. "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."

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