I can imagine the late great baseball legend Yogi Berra, a man who never met a malaprop he did not like, summing up the recent drama involving the Los Angeles Dodgers like this: “If you don’t like diversity, then get OUT!”
For several years now, the Dodgers have proudly hosted a “Pride” night in June to celebrate — in every sense of that word — the lifestyle of those with same-sex attraction. For someone who objects to the ideology that such events promote, I dismissed “Pride” night as really only one game out of the whole season, an unfortunate consequence of the influence that the movement has on corporate America.
That is going to change this June. Last month, the Dodgers announced they were going to make this June 16 the biggest “pride” night in all of baseball, honoring organizations they claim have done invaluable work on behalf of the community that “Pride” is all about. This year’s distinguished honoree was the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (SPI), a group composed of men who dress as women. More specifically, they dress like cartoonish and nightmarish versions of Catholic nuns. In a way, they are performance artists who put on “women-face” in much the same way as minstrel shows of the past had white people in blackface.
And just as minstrel shows were aimed at mocking and ridiculing a disenfranchised minority, members of the SPI give the same treatment to the Catholic Church. Each member takes on a mocking, suggestive pseudonym using words with Catholic etymology like “nun,” “sisters” and “sanctuary,” but all with a perverted twist.
During a visit to their website, it was hard to find examples of “community service” in the traditional sense of the term. What wasn’t hard to find was the proud promotion of self-indulgence, blasphemy, and insults directed toward the Blessed Mother. The capstone to this cavalcade of offense is found in the SPI’s motto: “Go and sin some more.”
This is the group the Dodgers, a sports franchise with a storied Catholic past that included its original LA owners, the O’Malley family, as well as Hall of Famers Gil Hodges and Vin Scully, has chosen to honor and affirm.
When the Dodgers first announced plans to honor the group at the June 16 event, fans, Catholic advocacy groups, and even a U.S. senator protested. A few days later, the Dodgers uninvited the SPI. They were still committed to celebrating “pride,” but I was happy for the small victory. For a major sports organization to show that level of respect, and even humility, toward people of faith is no small feat nowadays.
That relief was short-lived. One-sided coverage from the corporate news media, which itself is heavily invested in sponsoring, promoting, and broadcasting local and national “Pride Month” events, quickly conveyed a narrative that portrayed the Dodgers as bowing to intolerant, right-wing extremists at the expense of well-meaning charity workers. I was not aware that being offended by the use of the cross as a pole dance object was the singular purview of only so-called “conservative” Catholics.
When the Dodgers saw their entire “pride” night was in jeopardy, the SPI was reinvited. The apologetic Dodgers statement read like a message written by someone boarding a train to Siberia in Stalinist Russia, hoping their apology would at least spare their family from being evicted from the government apartment building.
In some respects, the Dodgers have done a service to people who fear God and honor the many inspiring women who have answered a call to religious life. The Dodgers have let us know what and who they value — and by definition, who they do not.
Though I am fairly certain I’ve attended my last Dodgers game, I do not think for a moment my absence from Chavez Ravine will bring the multi-billion-dollar entity to a standstill. (Although, I will not miss paying $30 just for the privilege of parking my car, or the overpriced and under-quality food they have to offer.)
If this all sounds like I’m taking it personally, I am. To me, baseball is different from other sports. It gets passed on from generation to generation. I still remember my first Dodgers game. It helped me connect with my dad when other ways were more problematic. As it was passed on to me, I have passed a love of the game to my own children.
Now, all that is gone. In endorsing and celebrating the SPI, they are approving the group’s vile actions and displays of sacrilege that form the group’s very identity. I am not canceling the Dodgers. They have canceled me.
As the public spaces where I am not required to affirm things anathema to my faith continue to shrink beneath my feet, I cannot hear something proclaimed as true that my reason and my faith tell me is false, and remain mute. I certainly cannot sit in the stands and vote yes with my money while an organization monetizes debauchery.
Now for the really hard part. I need to pray for all the members of the SPI, that they can be reconciled with the God that they take pride in mocking. And I must be willing to be viewed as a fool, a miscreant, and even risk expulsion from decent company when I insist the symbol of the rainbow is about God’s covenant, and nothing else.