Russell Berger, CrossFit's de-facto spokesman, was fired last week after he praised the decision of a CrossFit gym in Indianapolis that chose not to host a workout for the city's pride week.
"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," read a now-deleted tweet that led to Berger's termination.
Now, the former CrossFit executive and outspoken Christian is speaking out about what happened to him last week.
What did he say?
During an interview with Apologia Radio, Berger did not backdown from his personal views, but expressed dismay with his decision to voice them in a public way that put his company — and its employees — in a compromising position.
"I think my comments were imprudent, and I think that it was unwise for me to use the platform that I have and largely use to act as a spokesperson for CrossFit Inc, to express my personal views,” Berger said.
“I put my company in a position that I wish I hadn’t. I put them in a position where they felt they had to weigh in on something that they otherwise wouldn’t have and I regret that. I think it distracts them from their mission and takes away time and energy and resources from making people fitter and healthier which is what they should be doing. I regret that," he explained.
However, Berger said he was "disheartened" by what happened to him, explaining it is exemplary of a larger issue in American culture.
"I think it’s a really sobering and a disheartening example of where we are as a culture," he said.
"Simply by expressing those views, which again have been pretty standard views for the historic Christian faith over thousands of years, that view is no longer tolerated and in fact it’s a view that’s so divisive and so intolerable that it’s the kind of thing you can’t say and expect to keep your job," he added.
Berger also lamented how the media have misrepresented him.
"The misrepresentation is that that makes me a homophobic bigot who hates gay people and doesn’t want them involved in the CrossFit world. That’s so far from the truth. I love the people in the LGBTQ community and I want them to know Christ. That means being honest about the fact that we are all sinners and we need to not revel in our sin but turn from it, and trust in Him," he said.
Does he have a message for other Christians?
Berger explained during the interview that Christians should be aware the internet "mob" can quickly turn against anyone who expresses anti-politically correct views. He said:
It’s a really powerful and important lesson that all Christians should be aware of. This is a very common and very effective strategy that’s being employed by a certain segment of the LGBTQ community in terms of basically silencing any view that disagrees with their beliefs.
You just need to be aware of that and be prepared for that should you make the decision to weigh in on a subject like I did. You have to understand that the pressure will be applied to you, but it will also be applied to your employer, it will also be applied to your family members, it will be applied anywhere where those who are outraged by what you said think they can harm you. And that’s just the reality of the situation unfortunately.
You can listen to the interview here.