The Los Angeles Dodgers have disinvited the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence from the baseball team’s Pride celebration after conservatives claimed the group is mocking the Catholic religion.
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence — a satirical LGBTQ charity, protest, and performance group whose members wear nun habits and white makeup — were scheduled to receive the Dodgers’ “Community Hero Award” in a ceremony during the 10th annual Pride Night on June 16, ahead of a game between the Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants.
The Dodgers had originally sought to honor the Sisters “for their countless hours of community service, ministry, and outreach to those on the edges, in addition to promoting human rights and respect for diversity and spiritual enlightenment.”
The Sisters, a federally recognized nonprofit run entirely by volunteers, has focused much of its effort on serving marginalized populations since its founding in 1979. The organization was particularly active during the height of the AIDS epidemic, at a time when few others — especially the Catholic Church and other religious denominations — were willing to minister to LGBTQ people or those infected with the HIV virus.
On its website, the group, whose members often adopt a whimsical attitude, is described itself as a “leading-edge Order of queer and trans nuns.”
“We believe all people have a right to express their unique joy and beauty,” the website reads. “We use humor and irreverent wit to expose the forces of bigotry, complacency, and guilt that chain the human spirit.”
But several right-wing figures have sought to stir up outrage among conservatives over honoring a group that they believe is mocking Christianity, and specifically Catholicism.
In a letter to Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said the sisters dress in “lewd imitation” of nuns and said the group mocks Christianity.
“Do you believe that the Los Angeles Dodgers are being ‘inclusive and welcoming to everyone’ by giving an award to a group of gay and transgender drag performers that intentionally mocks and degrades Christians — and not only Christians, but nuns, who devote their lives to serving others?” Rubio wrote, suggesting that the Dodgers rescind the award.
The right-wing Catholic League, and its president, Bill Donohue, also piled on, accusing the Dodgers of having “besmirched their legacy of combating bigotry” — referring to the team’s naming of Jackie Robinson as the first Black man to play for a Major League Baseball team — and “promoting bigotry.”‘
Donohue also railed against some of the Sisters’ practices or events mimicking Catholic Mass rituals and their habit of adopting names that often involve adult-themed puns.
“The Catholic League has been the leading critic of this bigoted organization for many decades,” he said. “Don’t believe the lie that the ‘Sisters’ mean no harm. And don’t believe the lie, floated by Erik Braverman, a communications spokesman for the Dodgers, that this event is all about ‘diversity and inclusion.’ On the contrary, it’s about rewarding hate speech.”
The Dodgers ultimately caved to pressure and disinvited the Sisters to the Pride Night celebration, claiming they wanted the event to highlight diversity and honor the work of extraordinary community groups, not foster divisiveness.
“Given the strong feelings of people who have been offended by the Sisters’ inclusion in our evening, and in an effort not to distract from the great benefits that we have seen over the years of Pride Night, we are deciding to remove them from this year’s group of honorees,” the team said in a statement.
On Thursday, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence responded to the controversy, claiming the group isn’t anti-Catholic and saying its members were offended by the Dodgers’ decision to disinvite them, according to The Associated Press.
“The Dodgers capitulated in response to hateful and misleading information from people outside their community,” the group wrote in a statement.
The decision comes when LGBTQ events, including sport-sponsored “Pride Nights,” have been attacked by conservatives for promoting LGBTQ visibility. In several different sports, some athletes on the teams sponsoring Pride-themed festivities have refused to take part or even don special jerseys or patches commemorating the event.
U.S. Congressman Robert Garcia, who hails from Long Beach, just outside Los Angeles, suggested that LGBTQ fans and others who believe the Dodgers made the wrong decision to rescind the award and invitation should boycott the event.
“At a time when the Dodgers should be embracing the strength of our diversity, they are instead trying to divide our LGBTQ+ community,” Garcia said in a statement. “Los Angeles is better than this cowardice and deserves better from the Dodgers. Our community should boycott this ‘Pride night’ and protest this decision. We’ll see if they choose to be on the right side of history.”
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