LGBT activists slam St. Louis Cardinals over Christian athlete's speech

LGBT activists have criticized the St. Louis Cardinals for standing by its decision to invite former slugger and Christian athlete Lance Berkman to deliver a speech on "Christian Day," which will be held at the Busch Stadium in Houston on July 30.

(REUTERS / Ray Stubblebine)New York Yankees batter Lance Berkman watches after he hit a solo home run against the Tampa Bay Rays in the fifth inning of their MLB American League baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York, September 22, 2010.

In an article published on June 12, Outsports called Berkman a "homophobe" and slammed the St. Louis Cardinals for sticking with its decision to have him speak during their "Christian Day" event. The website noted that the Major League Baseball player was instrumental in defeating an anti-LGBT discrimination bill in Houston.

Outsports highlighted Berkman's past statement about tolerance being "the virtue that's killing this country." The writer of the article clarified that there was no problem with an MLB team hosting a "Christian Day" or other religious events but objected to the St. Louis Cardinals' choice of an "outspoken homophobe" as keynote speaker.

Pride Center of St. Louis' secretary and co-chair Landon Brownfield released a statement that expressed disappointment over St. Louis Cardinals' decision to have Berkman. He called the MLB player's comments on the LGBT community "divisive and demeaning," the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

The Cardinals' decision also drew criticism from its former player Tyler Dunnington, who came out as gay last year and discussed his teammates' anti-gay comments. He told KMOV that he does not believe that Berkman's views are the same as that of the Cardinals, and said he hopes that the team will choose another person who does not oppose tolerance next time.

Despite the criticisms, the Cardinals released a statement defending its decision to invite Berkman as a keynote speaker for "Christian Day." The team said it was an inclusive organization which welcomed all kinds of people and groups and reached out to all members of the community.

Nevertheless, the Cardinals announced that it will hold its very first Pride Night this coming season. The team said the event will allow members of the LGBT community who love baseball to come together and watch a Cardinals' game.