July 24, 2024

© Provided by LA Times
Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw pushed to move up the return of the Dodgers’ Christian Faith and Family Day. ((Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times))

Clayton Kershaw said he disagreed with the Dodgers’ decision to honor the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence during the team’s upcoming Pride Night game, and that he approached the organization about expediting his announcement of the club’s relaunching of Christian Faith and Family Day as a response.

In an interview with The Los Angeles Times at Dodger Stadium on Monday, Kershaw said that while there were tentative plans for the club to bring the Christian event back this year — it was an annual staple on the Dodgers’ promotional schedule prior to the COVID-19 pandemic — his announcement of its relaunch last Friday was prompted by the team’s planned recognition of the Sisters group.

“I think we were always going to do Christian Faith Day this year, but I think the timing of our announcement was sped up,” Kershaw said. “Picking a date and doing those different things was part of it as well. Yes, it was in response to the highlighting of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence [by the Dodgers].”

The Dodgers decision to honor the Los Angeles chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence — a charity, protest and satirical performance organization that uses humor, drag and religious imagery to call attention to sexual intolerance — has been a point of controversy for the last few weeks.

The team initially said the Sisters would be honored with its Community Hero Award during a pregame ceremony on June 16, the club’s 10th annual Pride Night.

Then, two weeks ago, the Dodgers announced they were uninviting the group amid backlash from conservative politicians, Catholic groups and some factions of their fan base that objected to the Sisters’ portrayal of nun imagery and satirizing of sacred Christian figures.

Five days later, however, the team reversed course again, issuing an apology to the Sisters and reinviting them to their Pride Night event following an outcry from local elected officials, LGBTQ+ advocacy groups and other parts of their fan base.

Kershaw, who has spoken openly about his faith during his 16-year career and founded a faith-based charity with his wife, Ellen, called Kershaw’s Challenge, voiced opposition to the team’s decision Monday.

“I don’t agree with making fun of other people’s religions,” he said. “It has nothing to do with anything other than that. I just don’t think that, no matter what religion you are, you should make fun of somebody else’s religion. So that’s something that I definitely don’t agree with.”

That’s what Kershaw said prompted him to push for the announcement of the Christian faith event — which will take place on July 30 — up to last Friday.

The Dodgers declined to comment on the situation.

“As a team between my wife and I and different people that I respect, we talked a lot about the right response to this,” Kershaw said. “It’s never an easy thing, because it felt like it elicited a response.”

Kershaw said he was not aware of the Sisters prior to the Dodgers plans to honor them this year.

He said he “did the best I could to try and understand what they stood for,” but called it “tough” to see videos and other examples of the group’s portrayal of Christianity.

“For us, we felt like the best thing to do in response was, instead of maybe making a statement condemning or anything like that, would be just to instead try to show what we do support, as opposed to maybe what we don’t,” Kershaw said. “And that was Jesus. So to make Christian Faith Day our response is what we felt like was the best decision.”

Kershaw was adamant his issue was with the Sisters group specifically, and not the LGBTQ+ community at large.

“This has nothing to do with the LGBTQ community or pride or anything like that,” Kershaw said. “This is simply a group that was making fun of a religion, that I don’t agree with.”

Prior to his interview Monday, Kershaw initiated a players-only meeting in the Dodgers clubhouse to talk about the situation.

He said he has been in contact with club officials about his feelings, as well, though clarified that the process of making the Christian Faith Day announcement on Friday was “my idea.”

Kershaw also said he isn’t planning to boycott the June 16 Pride Night event, when the Sisters will be honored.

“As a follower of Christ, we’re supposed to love everybody well,” Kershaw said. “And I think that means being able to be at a lot of different places and be able to be a part of a lot of different things.”

Kershaw said details for the Christian faith event haven’t been finalized, though it is expected to include a Q&A session atop the Dodgers’ dugout as past iterations have.

“It’s our opportunity to be able to kind of share our testimony of what we believe in and why we believe in it, and how that affects our performance on the field,” Kershaw said, later adding: “It’s a great opportunity to see the platform that Jesus has given us and how to use that for his glory and not ours.”

Kershaw declined to offer specifics about his research into the Sisters’ group, or how he reconciles his stated belief “to love everybody” with opposition to a group that, despite his objections, has a long history of raising awareness and money for LGBTQ+ causes.

“I think in these situations, instead of maybe criticizing or trying to find something wrong with a group, it’s better just to focus on what you do believe in,” Kershaw said. “For me, that’s Jesus. So I think that was our best response.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.