Opinion: Collision of baseball, religion, and LGPTQ+ pride sparks potential boycott

AP File Photo/Jacquelyn Martin / Sister Anthonia Ugwu, left, and Sister Mary Ngina, nuns with the Oblate Sisters of Providence (OSP), joke with each other as they pose in the chapel at Saint Frances Academy, in Baltimore, Maryland, on Wednesday, April 27, 2022.
AP File Photo/Jacquelyn Martin / Sister Anthonia Ugwu, left, and Sister Mary Ngina, nuns with the Oblate Sisters of Providence (OSP), joke with each other as they pose in the chapel at Saint Frances Academy, in Baltimore, Maryland, on Wednesday, April 27, 2022.

Catholicism, gay pride and baseball clashed recently on the West Coast, and the resulting carnage is stomach-turning.

A group that calls itself "The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence" and refers to itself as an "order of queer and trans nuns" was removed from a list of invitees to the Los Angeles Dodgers' upcoming 10th annual Pride Night in June after outrage from religious groups, which claim the non-nun, non-Catholic group has been insulting the Catholic Church since 1979.

We can't print some of the slurs, as recounted by The Daily Signal, but some of the behavior has included mock services featuring "holy communion wafers and tequila," "exorcism" and a "Condom Savior Mass," "Hunky Jesus" contests on Easter Sunday, and prizes for the "hottest confession" at a San Diego gay bar.

"In one infamous stunt, " CatholicVote's Brian Burch wrote in a letter to Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, "they tricked an archbishop into giving them the Eucharist — the most important sacrament of the Catholic faith — so they could defile it. This past Easter Sunday, the [Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence] put on an exhibition in San Francisco in which a performer dressed as Jesus carried a cross up a hill and then performed a pole dance on it."

We don't begrudge the Dodgers having a Pride Night. They know their fans and customers and know such a night is not only symbolic of the team's desire to demonstrate tolerance but also to cater to members of the LGTBQ+ community who love baseball.

But we would agree that a fake order of nuns that mocks the faith of others has no business alongside those who are present to mark their pride and self-awareness.

"We sincerely doubt that the Dodgers would [invite] a group which made a similar travesty of the Jewish faith or Muslim faith," Burch said.

Earlier this week, though, while the team was in Atlanta taking two out of three games from the Braves, club executives changed their minds and not only invited the false nuns but apologized to them.

"After much thoughtful feedback from our diverse communities, honest conversations within the Los Angeles Dodgers organization and generous discussions with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence," the team wrote in a news release, "the Los Angeles Dodgers would like to offer our sincerest apologies to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, members of the LGBTQ+ community and their friends and families. ...

"In the weeks ahead, we will continue to work with our LGBTQ+ partners to educate ourselves, find ways to strengthen the ties that bind and use our platform to support all of our fans who make up the diversity of the Dodgers family."

Although the archbishop of Los Angeles responded by suggesting Catholics "show our care and respect for our women religious by sending a message of support to their communities through phone calls, letters, and posts on their social channels," supporting their vocations by donating to their orders or by making donations in the name of individual nuns to the programs they support, Catholic League President Bill Donahue took a different tack.

"By [Catholics] boycotting this event," he said, according to the Catholic News Agency, "we can send a message to the Dodgers, and to Major League Baseball, that anti-Catholic bigotry is unacceptable."

Boycotts are all the rage these days, you may have heard.

Beer drinkers have made their feelings about Anheuser-Busch cozying up to the transgender community by refusing to drink the company's Bud Light. On the other side, members of the LGTBQ+ community are talking about boycotting big box retailer Target over the company's decision to remove some items from its shelves that catered to the transgender community amid rumors of violence from customers.

NFL viewership plunged in the late 2010s when fans turned off their TVs after some players began taking a knee during the national anthem to protest the treatment of Blacks by police and after then-President Donald Trump made the controversy a cause célébre. A 2018 NFL policy change required players on the field to stand but said those who didn't want to could wait in the locker room until the national anthem was over. Viewership then increased again.

We won't know until after the Pride Night game whether the boycott was a success. We suspect it will be about as effective as an individual boycotting one Walmart store after being ordered to leave a specific aisle (don't ask us how we know). It's likely to make more seats available for Dodger fans who could care less about gays or religion, but love baseball.

It may sound quaint these days, but we can remember not too many years ago when late-night Atlanta Braves telecasts from Dodger Stadium used to show groups of actual nuns in habits cheering on their team (which, occasionally, was the Braves).

Now, apparently, it's open season on Catholics. And the team is just fine with that.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence had the last word — another mocking statement — in their response to the apology.

"May the games be blessed," they wrote.

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