Clayton Kershaw has spoken against the "Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence." (Credit: TonyTheTiger/Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 4.0)

A Pitch for Decency

By Timothy R. Butler | Posted at 8:56 PM

We’ve gotten weird as each successive round of the Culture Wars seems further proof. In this week’s edition, we learn that mocking someone else’s religion is apparently inclusive while defending other people’s beliefs is far-right. Got that?

If you missed it, the LA Dodgers, like seemingly every major sports team, now must have a yearly “Pride Night” as one of their themed days. That’s not news, but whom they decided to honor is: “the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.” The “sisters” are a group of men in drag posing as “nuns.” The entire organizational design, titles and the like are designed to skewer Catholic religious orders, specifically, and Christianity, more generally.

After criticism arose about this bizarre decision to make such a group guests of honor, the Dodgers retracted the invitation. Surely to no one’s surprise, criticism then arose from the other direction for rescinding the invitation. Reasonable minds could imagine a good compromise: invite some other LGBTQ group for Pride Night that doesn’t build its whole organization around mocking another’s faith. Instead, the Dodgers relented, reversed the retraction and issued a widely publicized apology — not to the mocked, but to the mockers.

The organization tweeted, “we will continue to work with our LGBTQ+ partners to better educate ourselves, find ways to strengthen the ties that bind and use our platform to support all of our fans who make up the diversity of the Dodgers family." Apparently, diversity does include honoring groups that attack Christian beliefs but does not include, you know, Catholics or other religiously sincere folk alienated by said group that delights in blasphemy.

Are there not plenty of LGBTQ groups that could be honored that do not have to make mocking religious orders a part of their central identity?

Bizarre — except it isn’t any longer — is the USA Today coverage of the debacle. Sports writer Jim Reineking somehow thought writing that the “sisters” work as “civil rights activists, committed to public service to marginalized communities” was a cogent rebuttal to claims of offense over fake nuns using quasi-Christian terminology to make fun of actual nuns.

One can be both deeply offensive and do some “good” things; the latter is not a rebuttal to genuinely offensive use of religious imagery. (Whether this group does or not, is another matter.) Nor does it make someone “far right” to point this out, though Reineking applies that label to critics of the event, including the center-right Sen. Marco Rubio. For USA Today, apparently the label “far right” is anyone who thinks mocking Catholicism could be offensive.

Clayton Kershaw, the Dodger’s star pitcher, showed far more insight than his club or the media when he succinctly told the Los Angeles Times, “I don’t agree with making fun of other people’s religions.” One would hope a major newspaper could be as diplomatic as a baseball player. Apparently not. As Wheaton College’s Ed Stetzer reflected, “This should not be that difficult. I can't imagine the Dodgers inviting groups spoofing Jews, Hindus, or Muslims.”

Imagine for a moment a far-right group (that allegedly does “good things”) dressed up as over-the-top Muslim clerics with names mocking Islamic beliefs. Would Reineking at USA Today be grasping for the group’s alleged good deeds and dismissing the faithful offended by the group’s mockery? Would the Dodgers be apologizing to the group they uninvited? No, they would — rightly — be falling all over themselves trying to find a way to apologize enough to Muslims and honor them in place of the offensive group.

This double standard does no one good, most especially the very people the “sisters” allegedly advocate for.

Longtime advocate for same-sex marriage, and gay man himself, Andrew Sullivan has been sounding the alarm for years that this sort of push is destructive to those like himself who want genuine “inclusion.” Some of that is directly, as they now find themselves in the more radical advocates’ crosshairs, much as I just referenced a couple of weeks ago concerning J.K. Rowling. Indirectly, of course, the radicalized “inclusion” lobby also sparks the opposite of inclusion, as they polarize those with more traditional social values.

It's one thing to tell someone “you need to let other people live how they want.” It’s another to say, “And we’re going to put them on a pedestal as they mock your most deeply held convictions while labeling you non-inclusive for not agreeing with theirs.” These radical groups’ scorched earth path for “inclusion” directly births a radical opposition every bit as nasty.

It is the approach that creates Tucker Carlsons. The approach that drives people to angrily confront innocent Target clerks. Let’s be frank: Carlson is a lying scourge and threatening the teenager working at Target because you don’t like that private company’s Pride displays is sick. But the source of this rage, and even its frequent, ugly overflow against those who would advocate for a more civilized stand in support of traditional morality, is as explainable as it is wrong.

Anyone who wants genuine inclusion, anyone who wants real civility, anyone who wants to stand for traditional morality — in other words, anyone who is halfway reasonable on either side — must reject this insanity. Left or right, we need to sound more like Kershaw and less like the so-called inclusion “advocates and allies” and their all-too-alike, most vocal foes.

Standing for civility and principle is neither far-right nor a cowardly sellout to the progressives. It’s called being a decent person.

We could use a lot more of that.

Timothy R. Butler is Editor-in-Chief of Open for Business. He also serves as a pastor at Little Hills Church and FaithTree Christian Fellowship.

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