No separation of church and baseball: Minnesota Twins host a faith night

REUTERS/USA Today Sports/Bruce Kluckhohn

I am a Minnesota Twins season ticket holder and have been since 2007. One of the joys of living in the Twin Cities is being able to go to Target Field many times during the course of a season. It takes me ten minutes to get there and ten minutes to get back. Seats are affordable. The ballpark is beautiful. And the Twins are actually winning for a change. It’s a cliché, but the ballpark is my house of worship. And baseball is my religion.

As a season ticket holder, I get e-mails from the Twins announcing upcoming promotions and events. Last week, I received one of those e-mails informing me that on August 29th, the Minnesota Twins will host “Faith Night at Target Field.”

Here is the language from the e-mail:

The Minnesota Twins will host their first annual Faith Night at Target Field presented by Praise FM on Saturday, August 29, when the Twins take on the Houston Astros. The event will feature a postgame program featuring live worship music from UNITE Twin Cities and testimonies by Torii Hunter, Brian Dozier, Kyle Gibson and other Twins players.

What, what, what???

I read the e-mail again. I went to the Twins website. What an odd promotion for a baseball team to have. What about my faith or the faith of the other non-Christians? Do we count for anything? I am a season ticket holder after all. Are the Twins the official Christian baseball team in the majors? Are they endorsing Christianity as the only faith? A large amount of Target Field was paid for by the taxpayers, what about separation of church and state? So many questions!

So I tweeted the Twins and the players listed. I posted on the season ticket holder page on Facebook. The only response I got was from Twins All-Star 2nd baseman and uber-Christian Brian Dozier:

 

So I asked him if I could give a Jewish testimonial. I don’t even know what a testimonial is but if Torii Hunter can give one, so can I. Side note: Hunter hid behind his Christianity when he publicly said he wouldn’t “be comfortable with a gay teammate.” Clearly, that version of Christianity, like “Faith Night at Target Field”, is more exclusive than inclusive.

My public posts garnered some interesting replies. Many people agreed with me asking why religious preaching belongs at the ballpark. Others questioned why a major league baseball team would sponsor a religious event like this. Others were personally offended that I didn’t have Jesus in my life. One person told me to find a sponsor and I could have my own faith night. I was told that it would have been more inclusive of other faiths if the team had players of other faiths. Several people told me that all faiths are welcome…and that all Twins fans should want to hear player testimonies. And then the yahoos came out spewing about this being a Christian nation founded by Christians and if I don’t like it, tough.

I saw other replies to the announcement, some referencing Atheist Night at CHS Field and others asking for a Science Night. Well, after a bunch of Twins players visited the Creation Museum on a recent road trip in Cincinnati, I don’t think a Science Night is in the cards for Target Field.

What’s clear is that August 29th is just one faith’s night at Target Field. If you’re not a Christian, you’re welcome to buy a ticket and watch the game. But leave early unless you’re interested in hearing why Torii Hunter loves Jesus. Frankly, after what he’s said, the Twins should prevent microphones from getting anywhere near his face.

Meanwhile, still no response from the Twins and at this point I don’t expect to get one. I guess you could say I’ve lost a little faith in them.

This post was written by Jeff Mandell and originally published on TC Jewfolk. Follow TC Jewfolk on Twitter: @tcjewfolk.

If you blog and would like your work considered for Minnesota Blog Cabin, please submit our registration form.

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (13)

  1. Submitted by Mac Riddel on 07/27/2015 - 11:52 am.

    Exactly. Not all fans are uber-Christians.

    Excellent article. I saw this blow up on Twitter when it was announced and I was quite frankly, shocked. Still wondering what the heck the Twins are thinking here? I’m not religious in any way and don’t expect my sports teams to endorse one religion over another as they are blatantly doing here.

    What is the point of this? To alienate a good portion of their fanbase? Or to appease powerful interest groups and a subset of their own players? Wish they’d give us an adequate answer of some kind or host a non-Christian night to counter this one.

  2. Submitted by Sean Olsen on 07/27/2015 - 12:48 pm.

    The point…

    … was to sell a bunch of tickets to a late-August game against the Astros, figuring the matchup was likely going to be between two struggling teams instead of two playoff contenders. (Such an event was almost certainly set up before the season began.)

  3. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 07/27/2015 - 02:07 pm.

    Events

    When I was a kid, they used to have bat days. I never had a problem with that even though I wasn’t a bat.

    I am not a Christian either, but I don’t have a problem with holding Christian events at the ball game. It’s a free country, one where free exercise of religion is guaranteed by the first amendment. It’s not a government sponsored event, which would be problematic. It would be nice if the Twins offered other faiths their opportunities for a night as well, but even that’s not required. My guess is that the Twins promotions department would be quite open to offers and suggestions from any faith or faith-related group. And as far as I am concerned, that’s just fine.

  4. Submitted by Kelly Guncheon on 07/27/2015 - 02:16 pm.

    Not on their web site

    I agree with you, but I can’t find it on their web site. Is it still happening?

  5. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 07/27/2015 - 04:30 pm.

    faith night….

    Such intolerance is displayed in this article!

  6. Submitted by Frank Thomassen on 07/27/2015 - 05:55 pm.

    What’s the problem?

    Wow.. What is so difficult about this? If the Twins wants to have a Faith Night that happens after the game, what is the problem with that? Those that would like to hear Tori Hunter and Dozier and others can stay after the game, and those that just wanted to watch baseball can go home – as they would have done anyways.
    I can’t see the problem if something happens at the stadium after the game. It is up to the Twins if they would like to have something like this or not and it doesn’t affect anyone that are there to watch baseball.
    What is the problem? People are free to stay or to leave after the game. This has been done other places before. Both the Twins and the Timberwolves have had similar events before with lots of people staying after. This even does not affect anything for those there to watch baseball and it is a voluntarily event, so if people do not want to listed to Dozier and Hunter – they are free to leave the stadium.

  7. Submitted by Kurt Nelson on 07/27/2015 - 07:29 pm.

    Sort of like

    that jingoistic gibberish about supporting the troops during the 7th inning stretch. Never quite understood how my standing up supports the troops, but man, you get looks if you don’t. The Twins should maybe think about not pandering to the weak minded, and play the game they are paid to play – and if fans want to pray- they are free to do so in the quite of their own heads.

  8. Submitted by Dennis Litfin on 07/27/2015 - 10:13 pm.

    Hey……

    They are ‘pulling out all the stops’. The pitching is in the tank, they don’t want to spend $ for quality throwers so they are appealing to a higher power to keep the turnstiles spinning.

  9. Submitted by Mason Thornberg on 07/28/2015 - 01:16 pm.

    I have very strong athiest beliefs and have zero problem with th

    If you are really that bothered by other people’s beliefs, do society a favor and keep your closed mind behind closed doors at home.

  10. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 07/28/2015 - 02:13 pm.

    Take me out to the ball game father , son or holy whomever?

    WHO CAN SAY BUT:
    does this establish Baseball as a religion? Then such action as a Faith Day could be, a not so self deserving joke?

    Or may I suggest calling this one essentially, Christian Saints Day-all others need not apply? And if so unofficially established should we expect J.C. Super Star here ( not a Casey at the bat)…as a bonus to you of little, none or other faiths, ho! Consider you may be able to get a return on your ticket for false advertising?

    Then too, who’s on second, who’s on first; who’s going to be water boy…Matthew, Mark Luke or John?

    Make a fun day whatever one’s religion and let’s say other religions only pay half-price. There are ways of benefiting from such an absurd and offensive selective day of prayer?

    Picture with J.C. up to bat…does he spit on the ball and give her a swing…and still J.C does strike out?

    I say pray for them, whatever one’s religion or otherwise…these delegated saint worshipers need help on such issues as separation of church and state for this, be it one of public or quasi-private so established; who knows… that’s a hard one eh?

    Play ball with the reasoning targeting one not all here;not too hot I would say . The writer is right to question this absurdity.

    Baseball, maybe it should be established officially as another religion; born again I assume…just remember to pay the usher as you leave?

  11. Submitted by charles thompson on 07/28/2015 - 04:40 pm.

    faith vs religion

    You need a lot of faith to be a Twins fan, but as to religion, let’s face it, in the USA it’s football.

Leave a Reply