A goalie for the San Jose Sharks hockey team boycotted pregame warmups last weekend over the team's decision to wear NHL pride-themed jerseys.
On Saturday, the Sharks posted a statement on behalf of Canadian goaltender James Reimer – a professing Christian – explaining that he chose not to wear the jersey due to his Christian beliefs.
"For all 13 years of my NHL career, I have been a Christian, not just in title but in how I choose to live my life daily. I have a personal faith in Jesus Christ who died on the cross for my sins and, in response, asks me to love everyone and follow Him," Reimer, 35, said.
"I have no hate in my heart for anyone, and I have always strived to treat everyone that I encounter with respect and kindness. In this specific instance, I am choosing not to endorse something that is counter to my personal convictions, which are based on the Bible, the highest authority in my life."
Reimer concluded his statement by stating that he believes "the [LGBT] community, like all others, should be welcomed in all aspects of the game of hockey."
As reported by The Christian Post, the Sharks' heavily promoted their "Hockey Is For Everyone" initiative on social media in a promotional video, including players wearing rainbow-themed jerseys, the unveiling of an intersex rainbow flag, and a drag queen performance.
The hockey team also promoted traditions of the North Peigan indigenous tribe of the Blackfoot Confederacy in Montana and Alberta, Canada, which believes in a third gender and a "respected third gender in Zapotec cultures in Oaxaca, Mexico," called the muxe gender.
The Sharks cited research from the Trevor Project, an LGBT advocacy group, that found a correlation between religious beliefs with higher rates of suicides among members of the LGBT community, a claim that has often been disputed.
The team released an additional statement acknowledging "the rights of individuals to express themselves, including how or whether they choose to express their beliefs, regardless of the cause or topic."
Reimer is the second NHL player to refuse to participate in an LGBT pride event this season.
In January, Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov refused to take part in his team's LGBT pride night event due to his Orthodox Christian beliefs.
"I respect everybody, and I respect everybody's choices," Provorov, a Russian Orthodox Christian, told reporters after the game. "My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion."
Last month, the New York Rangers announced that they would not be wearing pride-themed jerseys.
"Our organization respects the [LGBT] community, and we are proud to bring attention to important local community organizations as part of another great Pride Night. In keeping with our organization's core values, we support everyone's individual right to respectfully express their beliefs," the team said in a statement at the time.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Ezra Shaw/Staff
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.