Should Jason Adam Wear An LGBTQ+ Pride Patch?
In one month, the St. Louis Cardinals will host “Christian Day at the Ballpark.” Every year, a past or present Cardinal steps onto the mound after the game to share about his faith. It sounds like something from a previous generation. In a way, it is. This year, “Christian Day” celebrates its 30th birthday.
In today’s cultural environment, I’m surprised not to hear these questions: Why isn’t there an Atheist Day? Or a Jewish Day? Or a Muslim Day? None of those days, to my knowledge, exist in the MLB. But there is a time dedicated to celebrating a non-religious minority: LGBTQ+ Pride Night.
And some Christian baseball players don’t want to participate.
Jason Adam, pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays, opted out of the Ray’s Pride Night uniforms, which included rainbow-colored logos on their hats and right sleeve. In his interview with Truth Over Tribe, he explained why he opted out:
But Adam hasn’t convinced the media or many LGBTQ+ supporters that he’s not a bigot. Sarah Spain, speaking on ESPN’s Around the Horn, said,
“This is what tends to happen when a privileged class isn’t affected by things. This is not just about baseball. That religious exemption BS which is used in sport and otherwise also allows people to be denied healthcare, jobs, apartments, children, prescriptions and all sorts of rights. And so we have to stop tiptoeing around it to protect people who are trying to be bigoted. … They’re trying to use religious exemptions to affect the opportunities and services and available resources for people who are LGBTQ+.”
According to Spain, not wearing a patch is tantamount to bigotry, and participation in a nationwide conspiracy to overturn the Bostock decision, and deny LGBTQ+ people human rights. Exactly how a rainbow-less piece of clothing achieves so much is unclear.
But here’s what is clear: in Spain’s view, freedom of conscience and speech are not important rights enshrined in the Constitution. Someone’s right to have their sexual self-expression affirmed is more important than someone’s right to not say, do, or wear something that compromises their conscience.
In truth, religious exemptions are “BS.”
It’s tempting to make either Jason Adam or Sarah Spain into the real problem. But neither one is. They’re responding to the problem: the fact that the Tampa Bay Rays and the MLB pressured players to wear things that violate their conscience.
Is This Really That Big of a Deal?
I know all of this can sound silly. It’s just clothing. But it’s not that simple.
Imagine that someone required you to wear a Confederate or Nazi flag patch. How would you feel? Would you do it?
Now, I’m not saying that a pride patch is the moral equivalent of a Nazi flag. So let’s move to some closer examples: a patch supporting Donald Trump, the Republican Party, Joe Biden, or the Democrat Party. Or a patch in support of atheism, Islam, or Buddhism.
How would you feel? The problems with the patch become even more clear when you compare “Christian Day” and “Pride Night”:
- On Christian Day, the celebrations are optional, taking place after the game. On Pride Night, the celebration is baked into the game and non-optional for attendees.
- On Christian Day, non-Christian players aren't pressured to participate in the post-game activities. They're free to leave without social or vocational conequence.
- On Christian Day, there are no special uniforms. There is no pressure on atheists, Jewish, or Muslim players to wear a cross patch.
- No one claims that non-participation in Christian Day means that you are anti-Christian. No one claims that atheist players who leave after the game ends are in a conspiracy to revoke the human rights of Christians.
- Non-participation in Christian Day doesn’t draw the ire of mainstream media across the country.
If “Pride Night” looked more like “Christian Day,” I wouldn’t be writing this. Christians aren’t begging for special treatment; they’re simply asking to be treated the way they treat others.
And yet, I know this logic will be unconvincing to some. Here are the common responses to these observations, so let me respond to them in turn:
- Christians were never an oppressed sexual minority in the United States. For them, support is assumed. The LGBTQ+ community, however, cannot expect that support. This is an historically true statement. The deeper tragedy is that sometimes Christians were the instigators of violent acts and hurtful language against the gay community. Yet, you must ask whether this is what Jason Adam is doing.
If Jason Adam said he was disgusted by the LGBTQ+ people or encouraged violence against them, then I might agree with Sarah Spain’s assessment. But that’s not what he did. He spoke explicitly in support of LGBTQ+ personhood and rights, further explaining that they “are welcome and loved here.” These are not the words of an oppressor. They are the words of someone whose conscience will not allow him to celebrate the sex lives of the LGBTQ+ community, but who has no animus toward that community. And as he pointed out in his interview with the Tampa Bay Times, he also couldn’t celebrate the sex lives of most heterosexual people. “It’s no different,” he said.
Moreover, while it is historically true that the LGBTQ+ community cannot expect the support of others, it is not true in the contemporary sense. The entire news media establishment, the White House, the Congressional majority, Hollywood, Big Tech censors, the NBA, the MLB, Disney, and just about every major American corporation loudly support the LGBTQ+ community and condemn people like Jason Adam.
- Your faith is chosen and your sexuality is not. So when I choose not to participate in Christian Day, I am choosing not to celebrate a choice. When you choose not to participate in Pride Night, you choose not to celebrate a person. First, it is worth noting that while the “born this way” argument was common seven years ago, before the legalization of gay marriage, it is being seriously critiqued by progressives today. Much of the LGBTQ+ community now talks about sexual fluidity and self-expression.
Moreover, many LGBTQ+ researchers argue that sexual attraction happens on a spectrum—in other words, most people are not exclusively attracted to one gender. So you do have some choice, it turns out. This is to say nothing of the mind-bending lengths trans activists go to say that if you’re a gay man who can’t be attracted to a transman, you’re a bigot and need to change—suggesting, again, that attraction and choice are not mutually exclusive categories. So it’s not all clear whether the “born this way” argument still applies. When you do hear it, it’s only because it’s a useful bludgeon.
But, for the sake of clarity, let’s say the “born this way” position is true (I’m actually quite open to this idea). What then?
Let’s start with an observation. All humans have all sorts of internal, unchosen proclivities. Imagine a Viking with a predisposition toward violence, alcoholism, and gay sex. He would likely embrace two of those desires (violence and alcohol) and resist one (gay sex). Now imagine that same Viking in modern-day San Francisco. He would likely resist his violent urges and alcoholism, but embrace gay sex. In other words, the unchosenness of a desire does not mean that acting upon it is moral. Nor does it mean it’s not a choice. All consensual sex is a choice.
Consider a different example: many married Christians experience attraction toward people who are not their spouse. These Christians have an innate, unchosen orientation toward polygamy. If they could turn off the polyamorous switch, I’m sure they would. But they can’t. If a Christian chooses to act on his desires, he will likely destroy his marriage—or perhaps enter an unhealthy polygamous marriage, should his spouse share his proclivities. Love is love, after all. So why not more love?
As more serious writing is published celebrating polyamorous relationships, we should not be surprised when Pride Night celebrates LGBTQP+. In five years, must we celebrate polyamory or be a bigot?
It's not a big deal. Just wear the patch. I would point you back to my earlier paragraph about Trump and Biden patches, and add one additional thought: humans experience varying levels of conscientiousness. I can imagine some Christians wearing the pride patch and saying, “I love LGBTQ+ people. I wear the patch for that reason, even though I disagree with their sex lives.”
But others will feel that this is an act of profound dishonesty. Wearing it will cause such people tremendous psychological distress and dissonance. This begs the question: If wearing a patch isn’t a big deal, then why do you demand that someone violate their conscience and experience psychological distress in order to wear it?
When we get into the weeds, we begin to see why we must continue to protect our right to conscientiously object. At the bottom of it all is a simple fact: humans are made in the image of God.
God gives humans the power of speech. Yet, not even God forces people to use the mouths he gave them to worship him. He allows us to act on our consciences, even when they are disastrously misled. Who are we to demand more than our creator takes?
Should a Christian Wear a Pride Patch?
We live in a time that requires courage and compassion. In that regard, Jason Adam was exemplary. Despite an onslaught of ad hominem attacks, he responded in love. If Christians take anything away from this story, I hope that’s the lesson.
And we do need to learn from his story because Jason Adam is not alone. Almost all Christians face similar questions in their workplaces and schools. I know CEOs whose HR departments tell them they need to send a celebratory email out during LGBTQ+ Pride month. I know employees who must attend LGBTQ+ training programs that require them to affirm things they do not believe and speak or act in ways that make them ethically uncomfortable. Students and professors who don’t actively voice their support of the LGBTQ+ community sometimes become targets of internet bullying.
Though these moments are becoming more frequent, we must be careful not to exaggerate their regularity. Instead, we should faithfully prepare our hearts so that our faith is resilient enough to face challenges with a Christlike posture. After all, Jesus warned his disciples that they would be persecuted for following him:
“And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say” (Luke 12:11-12).
We must develop Christian courage, not fear. Fear drives us to fight or flee. Christian courage, on the other hand, is rooted in the belief that Jesus protects you. It frees you from the fight/flight response to prayerfully seek God’s guidance, follow his spirit, speak with gentleness, act in accordance with the truth, and love your neighbor (and enemies!) as yourself.
Jason Adam isn’t riled up because he’s not living in fear. He’s living by faith. You, too, have nothing to fear. Let that liberate you to go forth in God’s love.
Want to hear more from Jason Adam and his decision to opt-out of the Ray’s Pride Night uniforms? Don’t miss our conversation with him, exclusively on Truth Over Tribe.
Posted by Patrick Miller