After a high-ranking CrossFit employee tweeted his support for a CrossFit gym’s cancellation of a Pride event, he was immediately fired from the company. He cited in the tweet his belief that celebrating LGBT pride is a “sin”.
Russell Berger was the chief knowledge officer of the mega-successful fitness company, it’s spokesperson and the co-author of the blog about scientific misconduct named the Russells.
Berger got into a hot water Wednesday afternoon when he tweeted about a CrossFit gym where owners canceled a workout in honor of Pride Month in Indianapolis, Indiana. Most of the coaches and employees quit their jobs in protest, and the gym posted notices that it was shutting down on Wednesday.
Berger’s tweet read: “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 was first placed on an unpaid leave of absence, but CrossFit announced on Wednesday that he had been fired. The company said:
“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.”
He had also said that the tactics of some in the LGBTQ movement towards dissent are an existential threat to freedom of expression, and when a Twitter user pushed back, Berger wrote:
“Thankfully I work for a company that tolerates disagreement. I have homosexual coworkers who I love and respect, and as far as I am aware, they aren’t demanding I be punished for my views.”
Those tweets were later deleted after people in the CrossFit community condemned his remarks and called for him to be fired.
Conservative commentator Erick Erickson defended Berger and personally vouched for him.
CrossFit founder and CEO Greg Glassman said that he did not stand by Berger’s views, and he called them “appalling”. The official CrossFit Twitter account also quoted him saying: “I am crazy proud of the gay community in CrossFit.”
Glassman also said in an interview that Berger needs to take a big dose of “shut the f**k up” and hide out for a while.
“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.” – he added.
Berger is a CrossFit trainer who opened up an early CrossFit affiliate and he is an Orthodox Christian and a pastor at a local church in Huntsville, Alabama.
He said that he has no qualms with the gym owner expressing his personal convictions, nor with the customers and coaches leaving because they have different convictions. He has qualms with the massive response from people who had no direct relationship with the affiliate and engaged in social media-organized public destruction of his business’ reputation and forced him to shut his doors. According to Berger, it’s an expression of pure intolerance.