Former Vice President Mike Pence has joined the chorus of notable voices speaking out against the L.A. Dodgers’ decision to honor the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a controversial LGBTQ advocacy group, at a Pride Month event later this month.
Pence, who is expected to announce a 2024 presidential bid next week, wrote Wednesday on Twitter that the Dodgers’ decision was “deeply offensive” and that the organization should have apologized to Catholics, not the group known for its mockery of religious nuns and rituals.
Having been raised in a Catholic family, the Dodgers decision to invite the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a hateful group that blatantly mocks Catholicism, to their event next month is deeply offensive. Last summer the MLB moved their All-Star Game out of Georgia over a lie…
— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) May 31, 2023
Kershaw, who pitches for the Dodgers and has been with the team since 2008, told Jack Harris of the Los Angeles Times, “I don’t agree with making fun of other people’s religions. It has nothing to do with anything other than that.”
His teammate Blake Treinen followed up with a statement posted to social media that said, in part, “The debacle with Bud Light and Target should be a warning to companies and professional sports to stay true to their brand and leave the propaganda and politics off the field.”
— Sean Feucht (@seanfeucht) May 30, 2023
And on the other side of the country, Trevor Williams, a pitcher for the Washington Nationals, posted a statement on Twitter, saying, “To invite and honor a group that makes a blatant and deeply offensive mockery of my religion, and the religion of over 4 million people in Los Angeles County alone, undermines the values of respect and inclusivity that should be upheld by any organization.”
In speaking out, Kershaw and Treinen are being lauded in some circles as heroes for decrying their employer’s decision to honor a group self-described as a “leading edge Order of queer and trans nuns.” (The group is not affiliated with any religious organization, but satirizes Jesus Christ and Catholics nuns in performances seen as blasphemous to many people of faith.)
The Dodgers organization flip-flopped on its decision to recognize the group as “Community Heroes” at its annual Pride Night June 16 — rescinding the initial invitation after objections from Catholics (including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio) and other people of faith, and then apologizing and reinviting the group after its allies threatened a boycott of Pride Night.
Now the nonprofit political advocacy group CatholicVote is preparing to launch an advertising campaign urging Catholics to boycott the Dodgers.
The Dodgers organization has said nothing publicly in response to the latest backlash, although it announced on Instagram that it is holding a “Christian Faith + Family Night” on July 30, an event that hadn’t been held since the start of the pandemic.
Excited to announce the relaunch of Christian Faith and Family Day at Dodger Stadium on July 30th. More details to come— but we are grateful for the opportunity to talk about Jesus and determined to make it bigger and better than it was before COVID. Hope to see you on July 30th! pic.twitter.com/yNu7HyEgR9
— Clayton Kershaw (@ClaytonKersh22) May 26, 2023
All three pitchers who have spoken out on the issue are known for their Christian faith.
Kershaw, who co-wrote a book about faith with his wife Ellen, has said, “The battle to maintain a Christ-centered identity is the most worthy fight we will face.” The couple have been married since 2010 and have four children together, according to the website of the charity they founded, Kershaw’s Challenge. The controversy comes at a time when Kershaw is grieving the death of his mother, who passed earlier this month.
Treinen, who was once an answer on “Jeopardy!” has been called one of the best relief pitchers in baseball. He has two children with his wife, Katie, and has said he realized after his team won the World Series in 2020 that his faith and family matter more than his career.
“I’m asking myself, ‘Look, you just had the biggest accomplishment of your lifetime potentially and do you feel satisfied?’ And I’m thinking, ‘No, I don’t. Nothing will fill the void in your heart meant for Jesus.’ So, what do you do? Chase another one and have the same feeling or realize that your life is worth more than just a game?” he said in a profile on the website for Whitman College, in Walla Walla, Washington, where he lives and volunteers.
Williams, a father of four, is a Catholic who has faith-based tattoos on his arms and legs. He met his future wife in church when she dropped her Bible under his chair, according to The Athletic. He told The (Arlington, Virginia) Catholic Herald that it’s important to keep the game of baseball in perspective, to know that it’s not “the most important thing in the world.”
“That has helped me tremendously just because in the grand scheme of things, when we die hopefully in a state of grace and we go up and St. Peter is looking at you, (will he say) ‘What was your (earned run average) in 2023?’ He’s not going to ask you that,” he said, adding, “I hope he doesn’t.”
At a recent White House briefing, spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre declined to answer a question about the controversy, saying, “I’m just not going to get in the middle of who a sports team decides to honor or not honor, but thank you for the question.”