At least five members of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team on Saturday declined to wear uniforms designating LGBTQ+ Pride, saying their faith and their Christian beliefs prevent them from participating in the special event.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, the Major League Baseball team celebrated Pride Night at Tropicana Field by giving the players hats with rainbow-colored logos and jerseys with a rainbow sunburst on the sleeve.
Fans received Pride flags as they entered the stadium. The pitching mound also included a rainbow sunburst.
But at least five players chose not to participate, opting instead to wear their standard game uniforms and hats.
Those players were pitchers Jason Adam, Jalen Beeks, Brooks Raley, Jeffrey Springs and Ryan Thompson.
Adam described it as a “faith-based decision.”
“It’s a hard decision. Because ultimately, we all said what we want is them to know that all are welcome and loved here,” Adam said of the LGBTQ+ community. “... It’s just that maybe we don’t want to encourage it if we believe in Jesus, who’s encouraged us to live a lifestyle that would abstain from that behavior, just like (Jesus) encourages me as a heterosexual male to abstain from sex outside of the confines of marriage. It’s no different.
“It’s not judgmental,” Adam added. “It’s not looking down. It’s just what we believe the lifestyle he’s encouraged us to live, for our good, not to withhold. But again, we love these men and women, we care about them, and we want them to feel safe and welcome here.”
Sports Spectrum, which profiles Christian athletes, interviewed Adam for a February podcast.
All five pitchers who declined to wear the Pride uniforms reference their Christian faith on their social media profiles. Adam’s Twitter profile reads: “Christ follower / Husband / Father / Pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays / Colossians 3:23.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Julio Aguilar/Stringer
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.