June has been dubbed LGBTQ Pride Month, and countless corporations and organizations, including many professional sports teams, have signaled their virtue in support by changing their logos or adding special decals to display the rainbow flag colors.
The Tampa Bay Rays Major League Baseball (MLB) team did exactly that for Saturday’s Pride Night at the ballpark, but controversy has now erupted after five players declined to take part in the virtue signaling, Fox News reported.
There were five players who opted out of wearing a rainbow patch on their jersey sleeve and a cap with the team logo in rainbow colors, and one of those players explained that their Christian religious beliefs were the reason why they had not participated in the organizational show of support for the LGBTQ community.
A “faith-based decision”
The Tampa Bay Times reported that the five players were all members of the team’s pitching staff — Jason Adam, Jalen Beeks, Brooks Raley, Jeffrey Springs, and Ryan Thompson — and that Adam had been designated to serve as the spokesman for that group of players.
“A lot of it comes down to faith, to like a faith-based decision,” Adam explained. “So it’s a hard decision. Because ultimately we all said what we want is them to know that all are welcome and loved here.”
“But when we put it on our bodies, I think a lot of guys decided that it’s just a lifestyle that maybe — not that they look down on anybody or think differently — it’s just that maybe we don’t want to encourage it if we believe in Jesus, who’s encouraged us to live a lifestyle that would abstain from that behavior, just like (Jesus) encourages me as a heterosexual male to abstain from sex outside of the confines of marriage. It’s no different,” he continued.
“It’s not judgmental. It’s not looking down,” the pitcher added. “It’s just what we believe the lifestyle He’s encouraged us to live, for our good, not to withhold. But again, we love these men and women, we care about them, and we want them to feel safe and welcome here.”
The Times noted that participation in the Rays’ Pride Night celebration had not been mandatory as team officials had granted players and staff the ability to “opt-in” or out of the public display, and while the decision of the five Christian players was said to have “sparked numerous conversations” internally among the team, those conversations were described as “constructive” and not causing any division.
However, the U.K.’s Independent reported that the activist leader of the local LGBTQ community, Tampa Pride president Carrie West, slammed the players for ostensibly being hateful bigots that were “hiding behind religion” and should be “shamed” for declining to show support for they disagreed with.
West argued that the Rays organization has a large fan base among the LGBTQ community and that members of that community felt “snubbed” as fans by the players’ decisions.
One-sided inclusivity and tolerance
Meanwhile, the players who declined to don the rainbow gear due to their Christian faith have been brutally maligned and smeared as hateful bigots on social media and among some in the increasingly openly left-leaning sports media.
Rather ironically, the whole alleged point of the Pride events is to celebrate inclusivity and tolerance of those with different beliefs and lifestyles, but apparently, that call for tolerance and inclusivity only goes one way.