As has been tradition since the beginning of the initiative several years ago, at least one of the players in the league is highlighting the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Christian Rozeboom, a linebacker for the Los Angeles Rams, has chosen FCA as his selected charity. FCA is a network of organizations that supports Christian athletes and coaches. It is also rooted in homophobia and bars LGBT people from leadership positions, forcing everyone to agree to statements of faith that are rooted in anti-gay bigotry.
To say off the top: No, there is no evidence this young man is personally homophobic. And there is every piece of evidence the Rams strongly support the LGBT community.
Many athletes gravitate to FCA in their youth and find a lot of positive community-building through it. They also often say they didn’t realize the group is problematic for the LGBT community.
Just because he supports FCA for one reason, you can’t say someone is homophobic for another. Tone deaf? Yes. But not homophobic.
Yet none of that erases the fact that the group is, in fact, rooted in a core of homophobia.
In a statement to Outsports through the Rams, Rozeboom said he had no idea the organization centers anti-LGBT policies:
I chose the Fellowship of Christian Athletes as an organization I will support for My Cause, My Cleats, because it has played an integral role in my life, not only as an athlete, but also as a person. I have been involved with FCA since becoming a student athlete in high school in Sioux Center, Iowa. My mentor is a chaplain at my South Dakota chapter, some of my closest friends are members of FCA, and I also met my wife through the organization.
FCA’s stance on the LGBTQ+ community has recently been brought to my attention and I want to be very clear that I am not homophobic and do not endorse that portion of the FCA platform. I have been raised to love all people. On a football team, you line up with people from all walks of life, to achieve a goal that is bigger than yourself. Unity and inclusion are what I believe and practice, on and off the field.
These are positive, inclusive, welcome comments from Rozeboom.
As we’ve written at Outsports many times, we believe gay athletes in the NFL will be supported by players, coaches, fans and front offices. We’ve previously written about the (at least) 61 current NFL players, 13 owners and 9 head coaches who have offered support. We have no doubt Rozenboom would be among those people supporting a gay teammate.
Yet it’s also disappointing that more athletes and teams don’t know how discriminatory FCA is.
Among other things, this is the “sexual purity statement” every leader has to agree to, which says everyone has to have sex within the confines of marriage, and two gay men — like my husband and me — cannot ever met that criteria:
God desires His children to lead pure lives of holiness. The Bible teaches that the appropriate place for sexual expression is in the context of a marriage relationship. The biblical description of marriage is one man and one woman in a lifelong commitment.
Simply because I’m gay, I’m banned from FCA leadership. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes thinks my husband and I are not worthy of marriage, or expressing our love for one another through sex.
I’ve been with my husband for almost 20 years, longer than many of the group’s members have been alive. This one hits home for me.
FCA seeks to strip me of a basic human right, one reinforced by the Supreme Court of the United States, and now recently endorsed by the US Senate.
Can you imagine if this “sexual purity statement” was based on race? It wasn’t so long ago that some Christians used the Bible to argue against interracial marriage. Sound familiar? Now given equal footing to same-sex marriage in the Respect For Marriage Act, would a group opposing interracial marriage be allowed to be part of this My Cause My Cleats campaign?
The Rams also told Outsports the club was also “not aware” of the anti-LGBT policies of FCA.
It speaks to how divorced from the clubs can be from this player-driven My Cause My Cleats effort: Players from the 49ers and Rams — two NFL clubs that have demonstrated strong LGBT support — have been the athletes to support FCA in the last two seasons.
This year, FCA defended its right to discriminate against LGBT people in Federal Court. They literally went to Federal Court to assert their right to discriminate against LGBT people.
Yet NFL teams and players “had no idea.”
If I were to list the 10 most publicly pro-LGBT NFL teams, the Rams would be among them. They drafted Michael Sam in 2014 and gave him every chance to succeed. Since then the team has publicly embraced the LGBT community in various ways, including the support of Outsports Pride in Los Angeles in 2019.
I have no doubt that the very good people I know at the Rams wish this hadn’t happened.
Again I’ll repeat this, so hopefully more and more people become aware: The Fellowship of Christian Athletes bars LGBT people from leadership; It has included anti-gay messages in its core beliefs; It opposes same-sex marriage and that opposition is at the center of the organization’s leadership; and It bars anyone in leadership from publicly supporting same-sex marriage, now a Constitutional right backed by Congress.
I do hope the NFL, its teams and players wake up to this, so I don’t have to write this seemingly annual column again.