TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — It’s unquestionable the Tampa Bay Rays have a philosophy of equality toward the LGBTQ+ community. In celebration of Pride Month, the team altered its official logos, shared a series of pictures celebrating the community on social media, and even added pride colors to its gameday uniforms. But not every team member sported the custom jerseys.
According to a report from TMZ, five rays players, all pitchers, opted for standard uniforms instead.
Jason Adam, Jalen Beeks, Brooks Raley, Jeffrey Springs, and Ryan Thompson, all opted out of the pride-themed uniforms for “faith-based” purposes.
TMZ reported that Manager Kevin Cash said the players’ decision sparked some conversation in the clubhouse, but the team ultimately understood the decision.
Jason Adam said it was a hard decision to ditch the jerseys, “because ultimately we all said what we want is them to know that all are welcome and loved here,” the report said.
In a message to WFLA, Ryan Thompson said “those of us who decided not to wear the patch or hat spent a couple weeks in prayer and a deep dive into scripture on the subject at hand to come to the decision that we did.”
Thompson added, “if I believe the Bible is infallible and that everlasting life is attainable yet I bow down to public opinion in the name of tolerance, is that love? I don’t think so.”
He said his view is to love his neighbors from all walks of life as abundantly as possible, adding that he tries his best to “advertise only towards the kingdom of heaven.”
Thompson told WFLA the organization is “completely unified” in both its love for the LGBTQ+ community and respect for each other’s opinions, views, and values.
“I respect everyone’s free will to live their lives however they choose and can promise to treat nobody any different based upon their lifestyle.”
He added that the Rays, as a whole, respect and value the differences that make people who they are as individuals.
You can read Thompson’s full, unedited comments below:
“Thanks again for the opportunity to share our heart on this. The only thing the TMZ article may have misconstrued was the potential division this created in our clubhouse. The original TB Times article also made that assumption through Kevin Kiermaier’s comments being different from those of Jason Adam. The entire organization from top to bottom is completely unified in both our love for the LGBTQ+ community and also our respect for each other’s opinions, views, and values. Our clubhouse is a microcosm of society coming from many different backgrounds, faiths, walks of life, etc and whereas society and cancel culture attempt to silence those who don’t think alike, the Rays as a whole respect and value the differences that make us who we are as individuals.
Those of us who decided not to wear the patch or hat spent a couple weeks in prayer and a deep dive into scripture on the subject at hand to come to the decision that we did. As a Christian, I believe that God is the embodiment of love. He loves his creation so much that he sent his only son to die a horrific and unjust death mutilated and humiliated on the cross, and as he was suffocating and bleeding out he says “father forgive them for they know not what they do”. This is true love in its purest form. I don’t know how to love someone more than to point everyone and everything towards the word of God. If I believe the Bible is infallible and that everlasting life is attainable yet I bow down to public opinion in the name of tolerance, is that love? I don’t think so. Instead my view is to love my neighbor from all walks of life as abundantly as possible, trying my absolute best to advertise only towards the kingdom of heaven. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 says “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God”. This tells us that we all need Jesus. Myself just as much as anyone else, for we are all unrighteous, however through Jesus we are washed clean. I cast no judgment, I cast no condemnation, I only feel called to share my faith, which is the most important thing in my life. I respect everyone’s free will to live their lives however they choose and can promise to treat nobody any different based upon their lifestyle. When we made the decision not to wear the hat, we knew persecution would come and it has some, but it has been so much more of a blessing to see the outpouring of support across the league and throughout the country.Ryan Thompson, Pitcher for Tampa Bay Rays