National News

Controversy surrounds Berkman's return to speak at Cards' 'Christian Day'

Posted June 13

— Feelings of resentment surround a former Cardinals player's return to St. Louis.

Former right fielder Lance Berkman, who played for the team during the 2011 and 2012 seasons, has been tapped to speak at the club's "Christian Day at the Ballpark" on Sunday, July 30.

"A lot of his comments are against us and against our beliefs and against what we do as an organization," said Pride STL President Matt Harper.

The news comes just days after the club announced plans to hold a "Pride Night" either this season or in 2018. The team's even selling what they're calling a "Pride Collection" on their store.

In September of 2015, Berkman appeared in an ad opposing an anti-discrimination bill known as the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.

He later defended his stance during a radio interview.

"You get called a bigot and intolerant and all that stuff," said Berkman. "To me, tolerance is the virtue that's killing this country. We're tolerant of everything."

This isn't the first time the team's faced anti-LGBT accusations.

Last year, gay former Cardinals minor league pitcher Tyler Dunnington quit baseball after claiming negative comments were coming from both players and coaches in the Cardinals organization.

In a statement only to News 4, Dunnington said, "I was disappointed in hearing the Cardinals were inviting someone with strong views against the LGBT community to Christian Day. I don't believe his views represent the organization's. Hopefully, in the future, they will reconsider giving a platform to someone who thinks tolerance is a bad thing."

"It's very disheartening," said Harper. "I think that as an organization of their size and their magnitude, mistakes happen, but if you fix them the right way, you can learn from those mistakes."

Harper told News 4 the team has agreed to have their official mascot, Fredbird, walk in the LGBT Pride Parade later this month.

A spokesman for the Cardinals issued the following statement:

The Cardinals have hosted a Christian Day at the ballpark for nearly three decades. The post-game event usually features a well-known keynote speaker (often a former Cardinal or professional athlete) who talks about his or her experience of being a practicing Christian in the public arena. Lance Berkman participated in Christian Day when he was a Cardinals player, and we welcome him back this year to discuss his faith.

As an organization, the Cardinals have always been committed to bringing like-minded groups together to share in the unifying experience of Cardinals baseball. We are an inclusive organization with a social responsibility to be welcoming to all types of people and organizations. We continue to try and reach out to every part of our community, and have hosted a variety of themed events like Christian Day, Jewish Community Night, Catholic Family Night, Bosnian Heritage Night, Fiesta Cardenales, and many others. We are excited to announce that we will be hosting our first Pride Night later this season (details to follow shortly) which will bring members of the LGBT Community together to enjoy Cardinals baseball.

Copyright 2017 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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