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Diversity at Dodger Stadium

I don’t share Clayton Kershaw’s religious faith, but I certainly respect it.
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June 6, 2023
Clayton Kershaw (Ronald Martinez / Getty Images)

I don’t share Clayton Kershaw’s religious faith, but I certainly respect it. I hope that he respects mine, too. 

The Dodgers’ star pitcher has been in the news lately as part of a controversy that his team has brought on itself regarding the annual LGBTQ Pride Night celebration they are holding next week. The Dodgers invited, then disinvited, then reinvited the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a charitable organization that uses religious satire to draw attention and support for important causes. Kershaw, who is a devout Christian, publicly disagreed with the Dodgers’ decision to honor the group. While careful not to criticize the Pride movement or its goals, he also announced that the team would restore the Christian Faith and Family Day they have hosted in the past.

Unlike several other players and one major league team, Kershaw has made it clear that he will not boycott Pride Night. He stressed that his dissatisfaction is not with the event itself, but rather with the inclusion of a group that he believes does not show appropriate respect to his chosen religion. 

I am personally not offended by the Sisters, but I also recognize that they are lampooning a religion other than my own. Just as I wouldn’t want others to decide whether a parody of the Jewish faith should upset our community, I’m hesitant to impose my values on a devout Christian for whom another’s well-meaning attempt at humor might be less amusing.

Whether or not one agrees with Kershaw’s conclusion, he has made a clear effort to lower the volume of the debate rather than heighten it, no small feat when religious values and human rights are at stake. Adding a second identity-based program, rather than escalating a fight over the first, seems like a reasonable step toward compromise. This has not been a perfect process, but Disney and DeSantis, for example, could learn something valuable from the way this disagreement was handled.

But I am still dissatisfied with Christian Faith and Family Day. I would happily attend, if one important change could be made. I possess both faith and family, but because I am a follower of another religion, the decision to specifically honor Christianity tells me that I am either unwelcome or will be marginalized if I choose to attend. It may be unintentional, but the Dodgers are telling me, as well as thousands of other Southland baseball fans, that we are not wanted that day. (Same for Sandy Koufax, the one Dodger pitcher whose exemplary career outshines even Kershaw’s.)

I don’t think for a moment that Kershaw is antisemitic. He worships in a different way than I do, and I doubt he thinks less of my religion just because he practices another. His commitment to civil rights is well-known, through the work of the nonprofit foundation that he and his wife founded and the philanthropic work they have done to support underprivileged African youth. Most notably, Kershaw deserves tremendous credit for his courageous statement after George Floyd’s death.

“Silence won’t cut it,” Kershaw said. “We have to start by saying something and STANDING up for our Black brothers and sisters. I want to listen, I want to learn, I want to do better and be different. I want my kids to be different.” 

Just as Kershaw made an extra and admirable effort to stand with those of other racial and ethnic groups, I hope that he and the organization he represents would now make the same type of attempt to show his respect for those of other religious faiths. Not just Jews, but Muslims and Hindus and Sikhs and Buddhists and Mormons and others.

Invite all of us to Dodger Stadium to celebrate a range of faiths and family structures, with no hierarchy or suggestion that any of us are better or worse than the rest. 

Invite all of us to Dodger Stadium to celebrate a range of faiths and family structures, with no hierarchy or suggestion that any of us are better or worse than the rest. The Dodgers have a long tradition for their commitment to civil rights and diversity. Hopefully the team of Jackie Robinson and Fernando Valenzuela and Jaime Jarrin and Hideo Nomo and Farhan Zaidi — and Clayton Kershaw — can make room for us, too.


Dan Schnur  is the U.S. Politics Editor for the Jewish Journal. He is a Professor at the UC Berkeley, USC and Pepperdine. Join Dan for his monthly webinar “The Dan Schnur Political Report” (www.lawacth.org) on the first Tuesday of the month at 5 PM PST. Follow Dan’s work at www.danschnurpolitics.com

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