Florida Panthers players Eric and Marc Staal refused to wear anti-Christian Pride Jerseys for the Florida Panthers’ Pride Night game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 23rd.
The brothers issued a statement to the press that was shared to Twitter by the Associated Press’ Tim Reynolds.
The statement began, “After many thoughts, prayers and discussions we have chosen not to wear a pride jersey tonight.”
They further explained, “We carry no judgement on how people choose to live their lives, and believe that all people should be welcome in all aspects of the game hockey.”
Next, they added, “Having said that, we feel that by us wearing a pride jersey it goes against our Christian beliefs.”
The brothers concluded, “We hope you can respect this statement, we will not be speaking any further on this matter and would like to continue to focus on the game and helping the Florida Panthers win the Stanley Cup.”
Eric and Marc Staal follow San Jose Sharks goaltender James Reimer who also refused to wear the symbol that promotes the sin of sodomy.
Reimer explained to reporters his decision, “Under the umbrella of the NHL’s Hockey is for Everyone Initiative, the San Jose Sharks have chosen to wear jerseys in support of the LGBTQIA+ community tonight.”
He continued, “For all 13 years of my NHL career, I have been a Christian – not just in title, but in how I choose to live my life daily. I have a personal faith in Jesus Christ who died on the cross for my sins and, in response, asks me to love everyone and follow him. I have no hate in my heart for anyone, and I have always strived to treat everyone that I encounter with respect and kindness.”
Reimer then explained why he would not wear the jerseys, “In this specific instance, I am personally choosing not to endorse something, you know, a sexual identity or orientation that is counter to my convictions which are based on the Bible, which I consider the highest authority in my life.”
“I strongly believe, I feel like I couldn’t reiterate that enough, I strongly believe that every person has value and worth, you guys, my teammates, everyone. I strongly believe that every person has value and worth and people in this community, and the LGBTQIA+ community like all others, should be welcomed in all aspects of the game of hockey,” he declared.
He went on to add, “I think something that I want to kind of reiterate and you guys can ask me and whatnot or check me on it, but you know what I’m like. You know my reputation. I feel like I’ve you guys with respect and dignity and that’s kind of how I treat everyone.”
“As far as teammates regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, I treat everyone with the same kindness and respect,” he continued. “When a guy walks in the room I don’t ask him his life story. My faith has said — like I said before everyone has worth and value and I love them. When a guy gets traded to a team often I’ll ask people in charge what’s their number so I can send them a text, welcome to the team, ask if they need anything. And I don’t do that based off of what they believe or what they identify with. I do that because I’m taught to love and care for people. That’s who I am.”
“The other side is that I just can’t publicly and personally endorse something that goes against my beliefs. So that’s kind of where I’m at,” he concluded.
Back in January Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov also refused to wear the jerseys.
He told the media, “I respect everybody and respect everybody’s choices. My choice is to stay true to myself and my [Russian Orthodox] religion. That’s all I’m gonna say.”
Bishop Strickland of the Diocese of Tyler explained that homosexuality activity is immoral, “It is part of our deposit of Faith that we believe homosexual activity is immoral.”
He continued, “The people, those that we label homosexual, are children of God, and they need our great care, but to me that real care comes from acknowledging the sin and the reality that all of us are sinners called from sin to virtue.”
Bishop Tobin of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence also noted in his “Letter to Catholics on the Approval of ‘Same-Sex Marriage’ in RI, “As I have emphasized consistently in the past, the Catholic Church has respect, love and pastoral concern for our brothers and sisters who have same-sex attraction. I sincerely pray for God’s blessings upon them, that they will enjoy much health, happiness and peace. We also offer our prayerful support to families, especially parents, who often struggle with this issue when it occurs in their own homes.”
“Our respect and pastoral care, however, does not mean that we are free to endorse or ignore immoral or destructive behavior, whenever or however it occurs. Indeed, as St. Paul urges us, we are required to ‘speak the truth in love,'” he added.
He further wrote, “At this moment of cultural change, it is important to affirm the teaching of the Church, based on God’s word, that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered,” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2357) and always sinful. And because “same-sex marriages” are clearly contrary to God’s plan for the human family, and therefore objectively sinful, Catholics should examine their consciences very carefully before deciding whether or not to endorse same-sex relationships or attend same-sex ceremonies, realizing that to do so might harm their relationship with God and cause significant scandal to others.”
These hockey players are correct in rejecting wearing a symbol of sin and immorality. However, as Bishop Tobin offers they can do more and speak the truth in love about this symbol of sin and immorality and make.
What do you make of the Staal brothers refusing to wear the jerseys?