NOTE: In a sign that their moral compass may be directed primarily by who complains the loudest, the Los Angeles Dodgers have changed course once again. In the time since this article was originally written, the team has re-invited the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence after several prominent LGBTQ+ groups proclaimed they would not attend the team’s Pride Night event unless the Sisters were there as well. For more details on how the controversy began and lessons we can learn from it to grow in our walk with the Lord, please continue to read below.
In anticipation of their tenth annual Pride Night, the Los Angeles Dodgers intended to honor The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence with a Community Hero Award as part of the event. However, the team announced this week that their plans had changed, and the group’s invitation was rescinded.
Now the Dodgers find themselves with angry people on both sides and no clear way out of their dilemma.
But why would the inclusion of “a legendary LGBTQ+ charity and protest group” in an event to honor the LGBTQ+ community cause such an uproar?
After all, they were far from the only such charity to be invited, and these Pride Night events have become an annual occurrence in most professional sports.
Who are the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence?
What separates the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence from many of the other groups that the Dodgers intend to honor next month is that they have made a name for themselves by dressing up as an “order of queer and trans nuns” who “use humor and irreverent wit to expose the forces of bigotry, complacency and guilt that chain the human spirit.”
To that end, the group’s motto is “Go and sin some more.” Last month, their Easter ceremony included “children’s programming followed by a drag show where adult performers dress[ed] in blasphemous imitation of Jesus and Mary.” They have also hosted “pub crawls mocking the Stations of the Cross and even the Eucharist.” And while a Twitter handle is not always the most accurate way to judge an organization, @LADragnuns sums up the group’s approach well.
In response to their initial inclusion, the Catholic League, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and a number of other Catholic groups reached out to Major League Baseball to, as Rubio put it, question how the Dodgers “are being ‘inclusive and welcoming to everyone’ by giving the award to a group of gay and transgender drag performers that intentionally mocks and degrades Christians.”
Their opposition appears to have made an impact as the team cited “the strong feelings of people who have been offended by the sisters’ inclusion in our evening” as the primary reason for rescinding their invitation and award.
However, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that their decision was far from the end of the controversy.
More Dodgers Pride Night cancellations
In the wake of the Dodgers no longer including the Sisters in their Pride Night event, several additional organizations have announced that they will no longer attend either.
The Los Angeles LGBT Center and the ACLU of Southern California are among those who do not plan to participate. The latter group went so far as to state that “The Dodgers, which broke the color line in baseball in 1947 by signing Jackie Robinson, were champions of inclusion. Seventy-six years later, they take a giant step backward banning a long-standing drag charity.”
For their part, the Sisters have said that they will continue their work “serving our people just as nuns of other cultures serve theirs,” adding in a statement on their website that “if being true to oneself with love, joy and pride is a sin, then we, having been canceled by the New York Post, and now the Dodgers, will do what we always do. We will go out and sin some more.”
As we consider this story, there are two important points for us to take away.
When you face opposition
First, we must remember that opposition to what we believe does not necessarily equal opposition to our right to believe it.
Cyd Zeigler of Outsports.com made this mistake when he criticized the response from Catholics by writing, “It’s amazing that the satirical nature of the group has been lost on these conservatives. Satire is a powerful and protected class of self-expression. The 1st Amendment has, over and over again, protected satirical speech. That these folks would now attack this thoughtful, satirical expression is unfortunate.”
However, Zeigler completely misses the point that, while free speech is protected, it doesn’t have to be honored. If anything, it was the free speech of those who criticized the Sisters’ inclusion that has been attacked the most.
After all, it’s important to note that neither Rubio nor the Catholic League argued that the Sisters should not be allowed to exist or engage in the behavior that sparked the controversy. Rather, their argument was that honoring a group that so overtly mocks the Christian faith stands in direct opposition to the kind of inclusion for which both Major League Baseball and the Dodgers claim to advocate.
We must be careful not to make the same error when we face opposition from the culture.
It can be tempting to see any critiques of our faith or how we express it as a violation of our rights when that is simply not the case. Christians in America are fortunate to live in a place where we have the freedom to let our ideas contend in the public square. The difference is that those ideas no longer find acceptance quite as easily as they once did. However, we’re far more likely to defend our faith well when our focus remains on sharing God’s truth with love than when that focus shifts to a defensive mindset that mistakes opposition for attacks.
When you’re on the wrong road
The second lesson we should take from this controversy is that we can never fully avoid the consequences of a wrong decision, even if we make the right one afterward.
From the moment the Dodgers chose to honor a group that so overtly dishonors core Christian principles and, more explicitly, the Catholic expression of those principles, they were headed down a difficult path. That they made the correct decision to turn back still opened them up to criticism and derision from those who believe that the Sisters deserved their place of honor in the Dodgers Pride Night event.
The same principle applies to each of us as well.
While C. S. Lewis was correct when he wrote that “if you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road,” it’s important to remember that repentance from sin does not remove the natural consequences of that sin. Rather, it means owning those consequences because we know that they are worth enduring in order to get back into a right standing with God.
It’s so much better, though, if we can just follow his will from the start.
Are you walking the “right road” today?