San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Jeremy Affeldt is urging his fellow Christians to let go of animosity toward LGBT people, insisting on his blog that both the church and its followers should become “beacons of love.” Though he admitted in 2013 that he used to hold homophobic views himself, he later realized he was wrong.
Ironically, he was once afraid to spend time in the Bay Area. In his book, To Stir a Movement: Life, Justice, and Major League Baseball, he confesses he was reluctant to even leave his hotel room except to go the stadium whenever his teams came to San Francisco or Oakland. It wasn’t until 2008 that his attitude began to change, when his son became friends with a gay worker at Starbucks. The biggest catalyst, though, seems to be his years living and working in San Francisco.
The pitcher’s March 31 blog entry shows how far he has come since his days of hiding in his hotel. In the post, he takes hypocritical so-called “Christians” to task for failing to follow Jesus’s example of love and acceptance.
The piece is largely an assessment of what Affeldt feels is wrong with Christianity, and why he now strongly believes homophobia is a big part of the problem. “I had homophobia. I know what that’s like,” he says. “But I was wrong to fear like that. God reached deep within my heart and changed me.”
Affeldt, who is in his seventh season with the Giants, now has friends and colleagues who are gay, which has helped him reach two simple but significant realizations. “There is no difference between us,” he declares. “Gay people are human beings, and I’m going to love on them just as God told me to love all human beings.”
He vehemently insists God and Jesus are on the right side of the fight for equality. “Gay people are asking for equal rights under the law, and we’ve got Christians saying, ‘God hates you,’” he writes. “I get so angry because that’s not true! God loves you! Jesus walks with the gay community!” (Italics in original.)
The fourteen-year major league veteran also encouraged Christians to reach out to their neighbors, help the poor and generally be more open and loving to people.