The World Series starts tomorrow night and people around here have gone Rockies crazy. I’m getting asked a lot if I’m excited, and the answer is yes – Go Red Sox! They all want to know “why aren’t you rooting for Colorado?” So I’m answering them:
First off, the Red Sox are my favorite team. Second, I cannot abide the arrogance and stupidity of an organization that makes decisions according to a religious litmus test. It’s offensive, and would be so if they were using my beliefs as the test just as much as it is using evangelical Christianity, which is how they operate now.
I wrote about Team Jesus last year and don’t know that my position has changed much. But I want to take a few moments to do a little of what’s called “objection handling” in the business world. So here are a few objections to my take on the matter, followed by my responses.
1: It’s the team’s right to make these decisions as they choose.
I never said it wasn’t their right. This is America, where you have the right to be ignorant, hateful, and a host of other undesirable things. By the same token, it’s my right to criticize when I see things that are ignorant and hateful. It’s called the “marketplace of ideas,” it’s how democracy allegedly works, and this all ought to be obvious to anybody who paid attention in school.
But the “it’s their right” position overlooks something important. Ever been passed over for a job that you were really qualified for? Ever not get a scholarship you deserved? Ever go through a period where things just weren’t happening for you and you had no idea why?
What if you were to find out that there was a reason for these things – you weren’t of the right religion? Well, it’s up to you if you want to believe that it’s okay to discriminate on the basis of religion, I guess, but is that really the America you’re so darned choked up about every 4th of July?
2: As they say in that article, they’re looking for character, and I think that’s a good thing.
Yes, I do, too. I think character is a critically important factor in the success of any organization, and I applaud them for figuring that out.
Of course, that’s not the issue. The problem is the implication that “character” is somehow synonymous with evangelical Christianity. First off, that’s an insult to everybody who isn’t of that religion. Second, the assertion ought to be an embarrassment to anyone who actually understands Christianity.
I grew up Southern Baptist in the South, so I know a thing or two about character and how it relates to that collection of religions. Some of the best people I ever met, including the grandmother who raised me, my wonderful little sister and the best man in my wedding, were and are Christians. So were some of the absolute most appalling scoundrels I ever ran across. Violent, abusive, racist – there is no negative human quality that is not an essential part of the nature of many American Christians.
By the same token, you find lots of character among non-Christians, too – in fact, I’m honored to claim as friends a good number of non-Christians whose character I’d stack up against any group of human beings on Earth.
If you think that “character” is exclusive to a particular religion, you’re a moron. I said it, I meant it, fuck you, and I won’t be apologizing for it anytime in this life.
3: They don’t really say that only Christians have character.
You’re really into semantic games, aren’t you? Look, they said what they said, and if you don’t get that you’re just trying to find a way to let them off the hook for something I suspect you know is wrong. If they thought character came in all religious persuasions we wouldn’t be having this conversation at all, now would we?
4: I think it’s great they do that – I’m a Christian.
Good for you. I hope it’s leading you down the path to a better life. But that’s not the issue, as I demonstrate above.
Let me try it this way. Say you read this in the paper:
We think character is important to the success of an organization. That’s why we’re seeking out white players.
You good with that? You gonna argue that they didn’t really say blacks and Latinos and Asians don’t have character, they just said that whites do? Go ahead – make the argument. The comment box awaits you.
But it’s not the same, you insist? Yes, it is. It’s damned well exactly the same.
And let’s test how you really feel on the subject. Say the story were that the Rockies were after character and as a result they refused to hire Christians into the organization. If you feel differently about these two propositions, then you need to sit down and have a hard look at yourself.
5: I don’t really worry about that stuff. I just like the team.
Hey, I’d like to like the team. It’s a great story if you can get past the discrimination.
But when you put your support and your dollars behind them, for whatever reasons, you’re endorsing the point of view, whether you want to admit it or not. And if you’re ponying up for tickets, merchandise, concessions, parking – and if you’re supporting their advertisers with your dollars – you’re paying them to continue discriminating.
During the Civil Rights movement they had it figured out. You stop patronizing those who act against you.
So there. That’s my reasoning. As a moral and thoughtful citizen, as a man who has worked his whole life to cultivate the kind of character required to be successful in life, I have an obligation to speak out against discrimination and injustice in my community.
I’ve never really thought of the Boston Red Sox organization as a beacon of liberty, exactly – they were just a baseball team I learned to love when I lived there. But I guess that’s the role they’ll be playing when Josh Beckett throws the first pitch tomorrow night.
Go Sox – and may the organization with superior character win.