Jul 23, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw before the game against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj | Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers held Christian Faith and Family Day on Sunday and by all accounts a good time was had by all. Singer Jeremy Camp performed, special hats were given away and several Christian players gave testimony about the strength they get from their religion. What was missing were any protests, especially by LGBTQ groups.

It may seem odd to note the lack of protests at a sporting event, but it’s not in the context of sports in 2023, where LGBTQ Pride nights have become a lightning rod for people pushing a political agenda seeking to stigmatize a group that has made great societal progress. Events that had been routine in the past became labeled as social statements this season, with people being forced to choose sides.

It started in January in the NHL. There were NHL players who cited their Christian beliefs as reasons to not wear Pride warm-ups jerseys, uniforms that were utterly non-controversial until this year. Despite just a handful of players objecting to wearing the jerseys, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has now banned them, thereby letting a tiny minority dictate policy for all players.

The Dodgers, who have had the most successful Pride nights of any team in sports, became the biggest center of controversy when they agreed to give a community service award to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a group of drag nuns who have been doing remarkable charity work for more than 30 years.

The Dodgers disinviting and then re-inviting the Sisters made their June 16 Pride night a flashpoint and an area outside Dodger Stadium was the setting for protests from 2,000 people, many of them Catholics, along with other Christians.

I am convinced that had the Dodgers invited the Sisters in 2022, it would have gone unnoticed in the same way that NHL Pride warmups had until this year.

But, as the rash of anti-LGBTQ bills being pushed in states nationwide shows, there is an organized political effort to target LGBTQ rights, with religion often cited by these bills’ proponents. We saw this linkage recently in the Supreme Court decision that favored a Christian website designer who brought her case citing her religious opposition to same-sex marriage.

The Sisters’ invite played a direct role in the Dodgers having their first Christian Faith and Family Day since 2019. Star pitcher Clayton Kershaw voiced his objection to the Sisters’ invite as an affront to religion despite him not being a Catholic — raised a Catholic, I bet I’ve had way more interactions with nuns then he ever has — and he actively promoted Sunday’s event.

“I think we were always going to do Christian Faith Day this year, but I think the timing of our announcement was sped up,” Kershaw said. “Picking a date and doing those different things was part of it as well. Yes, it was in response to the highlighting of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence [by the Dodgers].”

This was the backdrop to Sunday’s Christian Faith and Family Day event. I never expected any gay people to protest and by all accounts no one did. Despite what some might think, it’s not true that LGBTQ people are reflexively anti-religious. A 2020 study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law found about half of LGBTQ people are religious (the vast majority of them Christian), which means there were certainly LGBTQ Christians among the crowd Sunday.

Protesting this kind of event was never in the cards, since the announcement of Christian Faith and Family Day was met with a collective shrug by the LGBTQ community. There are bigger political fights to have than with a baseball team’s promotional day. In addition, LGBTQ people have been marginalized for so many years that I think it has led to a live-and-let-live attitude.

And yet, if any group had good reason to protest on Sunday, it would be LGBTQ people objecting to honoring Christians. This is a group that is not marginalized (64% of Americans are Christian) and has many denominations and leaders that have demonized LGBTQ people for decades and continue to do so. Most major Christian denominations still don’t recognize same-sex marriage and many of the people pushing anti-LGBTQ laws do so while citing religion. For many people coming out, reconciling their religious upbringing with their sexuality is a key source of anguish and churches have done little to combat that.

Dodgers Christian Faith and Family Day went off without a hitch and I’m fine with that. The Dodgers and pretty much every sports team have promotions geared to all sorts of groups. Getting bothered because a team has a special promotion honoring Japanese, Hispanic or Irish Americans or first responders or military members or Christians or Harry Potter fans or LGBTQ people makes no sense.

These teams have to cater to a diverse fan base and it would be stupid to make such events divisive and inject a political litmus test into what is at its core a push to sell tickets and gain new fans. It’s sad and infuriating that the LGBTQ community is the only one facing a backlash for simply being celebrated and having to justify their inclusion.

Finally, for anyone trying to read a larger message into any of this by invoking God, note that the Dodgers lost both on Pride Night (7-5 to the Giants) and on Sunday’s Christian Faith and Family Day (9-0 to the Reds). He or She or They or Them or whatever spiritual being one believes in (or not) obviously isn’t into scoreboard watching.