A CrossFit spokesman is out of a job after firing off a series of homophobic tweets, including one that described LGBTQ pride as a “sin.”
Russell Berger, who held the title of chief knowledge officer at the fitness-regimen company, faced intense backlash Wednesday after tweeting praise for the decision of Indianapolis affiliate CrossFit Infiltrate to cancel a special workout meant to honor LGBTQ Pride Month.
“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 one of his since-deleted tweets.
CrossFit quickly placed Berger on unpaid leave while it investigated. Hours later, the company tweeted that Berger’s employment had been terminated.
“He needs to take a big dose of ‘shut the fuck up’ and hide out for awhile. It’s sad,” CrossFit founder and CEO Greg Glassman told BuzzFeed 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.”
CrossFit, founded in 2000, is a branded fitness regimen with thousands of affiliated locations worldwide. Berger has worked for CrossFit since 2009 and co-authored a CrossFit blog with Russ Greene, the company’s director of government relations and research. The blog is meant to document “work defending the CrossFit brand from misrepresentation,” according to the site.
Berger “made a grave mistake,” Greene tweeted Wednesday. “His job gave him an authoritative voice on behalf of CrossFit and he should have taken that responsibility much more seriously.”
Berger lives in Huntsville, Alabama, where he is a church pastor, according to BuzzFeed. He told the outlet he regrets tweeting the statements, though he said he stands by the sentiments.
“It became way too difficult to discern between me making statements of personal opinion, and me speaking as a voice for CrossFit,” said Berger, who told BuzzFeed he holds “orthodox, historic Christian beliefs.” “I should have realized that, and I didn’t until it was too late.”
He added: “My actual point I was making, I still affirm it.”
CrossFit Infiltrate management posted a note on its doors in downtown Indianapolis stating that it would “no longer operate its business” at that location, reported ABC affiliate RTV6.