CrossFit Tolerance Does Not Extend to Fired Exec

A high-ranking executive at the fitness company CrossFit was fired for supporting a CrossFit gym’s cancellation of a pride event, believing that celebrating “LGBT pride” is a “sin.”

“Orthodoxy, no matter how politely expressed, suggests that there is a right and a wrong, a true and a false, about things. When orthodoxy is optional, it is admitted under a rule of liberal tolerance that cannot help but be intolerant of talk about right and wrong, true and false. It is therefore a conditional admission, depending upon orthodoxy’s good behavior. The orthodox may be permitted to believe this or that and to do this or that as a matter of sufferance, allowing them to indulge their inclination, preference, or personal taste. But it is an intolerable violation of the etiquette by which one is tolerated if one has the effrontery to propose that this or that is normative for others.”


The Story: The firing of an executive at CrossFit reveals how bigotry toward orthodox Christians is becoming more open and accepted.

The Background: According to Buzzfeed News, a high-ranking executive at the fitness company CrossFit was fired after tweeting his support for a CrossFit gym’s cancellation of a pride event, citing his belief that celebrating “LGBT pride” is a “sin.”

Coaches at CrossFit Infiltrate in Indianapolis planned a special workout in support of Indy Pride, WTTV News reports. In an email sent to members by gym management, they explained the event was canceled because “the owners of the gym value health and wellness, and they believe that this event does not.” After a large contingent of coaches, staff, and members left, the gym was forced to shut down.

In response, Russell Berger, chief knowledge officer for CrossFit, wrote on Twitter: “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 is a also a CrossFit trainer and a pastor at a local church in Huntsville, Alabama.

In response to a Twitter user who 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.”

He was wrong. After initially being placed on an unpaid leave of absence, Berger was fired. On Twitter CrossFit wrote,

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

CrossFit founder and CEO Greg Glassman was more straightforward in expressing his opinion. “[Berger] needs to take a big dose of ‘shut the ____ up’ and hide out for awhile. It’s sad,” Glassman said in an interview. “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.”

What It Means: In reaction to this news story, many people on social media claimed there is an inconsistency in CrossFit claiming they are “proud” of people “no matter who you are” or “what you believe” and the bigoted statement made by the company’s CEO, Greg Glassman. But, when properly understood, CrossFit’s position is not at all inconsistent.

When individuals or corporations claim to tolerate all people or beliefs, they are merely referring to tolerable beliefs. Every society and culture eventually decides what beliefs cannot be tolerated and which are “beyond the pale,” that is, outside the agreed standards of decency.

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