"Cancel culture" almost claimed another high profile sports victim this week. Los Angeles Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts drew criticism from the Los Angeles Times and SB Nation sports blog for agreeing to speak at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) event in Kern County, Calif., but he made the obligatory confession of ignorance to sidestep the condemnation of LGBT media lapdogs. For now. He may not be so fortunate in the future.
Roberts, a Christian, said he did not know about FCA's so-called "anti-gay" policies and he supports inclusion. SB Nation's Outsports blog gave him the benefit of the doubt for his involvement with an event by an organization that believes in marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Cyd Zeigler, of SB Nation Outsports, writes:
"The question that will linger into next year and even beyond… Is this the last time Roberts speaks to an FCA group? If it’s not, and we see Roberts back at FCA helping raise money a year from now, I think many of us will likely be writing very different columns."
The Los Angeles Times LZ Granderson also spared Roberts from condemnation for pleading ignorance, but blistered FCA.:
"The foundation had been under fire for years for its financial support of anti-LGBTQ organizations, including the National Christian Foundation, which was connected to the so-called Kill the Gays bill in Uganda in 2014. When Chick-fil-A announced it was going global, the foundation’s spending habits again were under fire."
Granderson pointed out that part of the FCA’s nine-point Statement of Faith policy is the language, “We believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.” FCA also enforces a sexual-purity requirement for employees and volunteers that targets LGBTQ people, he alleges.
“I didn’t know about their bylaws prior to committing,” Roberts said in pleading against personal cancellation. “It was something once I committed to, I wanted to see it through. My goal was to share my faith with fellow believers, and I live in a world where I try not to judge people for their beliefs and hope that they don’t judge me for mine.”
The Dodgers' organization also whirled into action to defend against a potential LGBT backlash. “We’ve established a culture at the Dodgers and we truly do practice what we preach,” said Erik Braverman, vice president of marketing and broadcasting and an out homosexual. “Inclusive means all. We are as proud of our LGBTQ night as we are of our Christian faith night, and they are equally successful.”
Granderson wrote that it's not easy managing a professional baseball team, and says, "It’s even harder trying to do so in a 'cancel culture' that routinely runs a public person’s values through purity tests driven by faceless protesters on social media." It is easy to see "how Roberts’ appearance at the FCA fundraiser can be viewed as a slap in the face of LGBTQ advocates, one also can see an LGBTQ advocate sharing his thoughts on what God’s kingdom should look like to Christians who may not agree."
Zeigler said many LGBTQ people in sports and FCA members don’t know that the FCA opposes same-sex marriage and bans LGBT people from leadership positions.
"This makes him (Roberts) very different from, say, Tony Dungy," Zeigler says of the Christian and former NFL head coach who's previously been cancelled. "The former Indianapolis Colts head coach was once the main speaker at a fundraiser for the Indiana Family Institute, which exists explicitly to attack gay rights. Dungy said at the time he supported the work of IFI, a sharp contrast from Roberts’ thoughts about FCA’s position.
"Dungy has also done nothing over time to step away from the anti-gay beliefs he raised money for, only doubling down with veiled homophobia about not wanting Michael Sam on his team."
New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees also risked cancellation last year when he appeared in a Focus on the Family video but then said he was all in for equality.