CV NEWS FEED // Tommy Valentine, director of CatholicVote’s Catholic Accountability Project, gave an emotional speech at a prayer rally prior to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ honoring of an anti-Catholic hate group on Friday, June 16.
“You have power, you have a voice,” he said to the mostly-Catholic crowd. “And when you use that voice you can be really powerful, because we have the truth behind us. When Christians stand together, God stands behind us.”
As part of their tenth annual “Pride Night celebration,” the baseball team gave a Community Hero Award to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (SPI), a troupe of men in “drag” who lewdly mock the Catholic faith with various public acts of blasphemy and sacrilege.
The team initially signaled it would confer the award during the game. After weeks of blowback from Catholic leaders, however, the team instead awarded SPI quickly and without ceremony well before the game began. The stadium was mostly empty at the time, while thousands of peaceful protesters gathered outside.
“I just want to give you a little story of how this all happened,” Valentine continued. At first, he said, nobody on CatholicVote’s staff was aware of the Dodgers’ decision to honor SPI. It was one of the LOOP’s over 450,000 subscribers who alerted CatholicVote to it. Many “LOOPers” were in attendance at the rally.
The LOOP reader wrote into CatholicVote saying she was a lifelong Dodgers fan and was concerned that the team was honoring the anti-Catholic drag troupe. “I don’t understand why,” she wrote. “Can you guys look into it?”
Then, as Valentine recounted:
We published this story in the LOOP the next day, and a couple of other organizations joined in. Senator Marco Rubio joined in and sent a letter, and so 48 hours later, the Dodgers disinvited the hate group.
We thought this was awesome. We went up against a Goliath, we won the fight. Then, 48 hours after that, the Dodgers re-invited the group.
While Valentine and the rest of the CatholicVote staff were disappointed, they knew that they could not “just concede defeat.” Instead, Valentine realized that it was up to the organization and other faithful Catholics throughout the nation “to stand for the honor of Our Lord, to stand for the honor of our mother, and to stand together for the honor of our faith.”
Our background at CatholicVote is in politics, and so we decided we have to treat this as a political campaign, but this is really a spiritual battle.
We declared, “We’re going to raise one million dollars … to spread this message far and wide to Dodgers fans in LA, and to people across the country. This cannot stand. This is unacceptable and we cannot stand for it.”
Not knowing what the outcome would be, CatholicVote “stepped out in faith,” he said. And with God’s providence, they exceeded all expectations:
We not only smashed our fundraising goal of a million dollars, we got more individual donations from single people than we had in any fundraising effort in our history. For a non-profit of our size … that’s hard to do.
Valentine stressed that this profound success was not possible without the support of all “the people of God, the people of the Catholic Church, and even non-Catholics … who donated to our campaign five dollars, ten dollars, twenty dollars to get this message on the air.”
As a result, CatholicVote produced a one-minute-long TV ad titled “The Dodgers Have Lost Their Way.”
Yet the Dodgers, a nearly $5 billion sports franchise, tried to stop CatholicVote.
Again, from Valentine:
We tried to buy ads on their games with their cable network Spectrum SportsNet LA. Dodgers management stepped in and said, “You cannot run this ad on our air.”
We said “Okay. We’re going to use that money elsewhere.”
He said that at the time of his speech, the ad was “approaching 10 million views in the LA area alone.” CatholicVote texted it out on several digital platforms. The ad had received over three million hits on YouTube less than two weeks after it was posted.
The organization also made use of billboard trucks, one of which was sent to the Major League Baseball (MLB) owners’ meeting in New York City
“People are getting this message that anti-Catholic hatred can’t be tolerated in this country,” Valentine said:
We knew when we picked this fight that the Dodgers were probably not going to disinvite this hate group a second time.
Our goal really from the start of this million-dollar campaign was to make it so untenable for the Dodgers to stand for a hate group, that no other team, no other woke corporation in the country will ever do this again.
He is also confident that CatholicVote will be able to secure a meeting with a top Dodgers executive. “We’re going to look him straight in the eye and we’re going to tell him what he did to us. We’re going to tell him we’re not going to stand for it.”
Valentine said that his story is not a testament to “how great CatholicVote is,” but instead:
It’s about what you can do, and what we can do when Catholics in the pews who care about our country … faith and … culture stand together with fellow Catholics and fellow Christians. We have more power than we think.
Finally, he thanked the many people who joined in to support the campaign. “We heard from countless non-Catholic friends, Jewish friends, Muslim friends” as well as people who “were not particularly religious.”
Valentine gave a shout-out to Los Angeles area State Assemblyman Bill Essayli, R-CA, a practicing Muslim. Essayli protested on the Assembly floor, holding a sign bearing the words “Religious bigotry is bigotry,” when the chamber’s “LGBTQ caucus” was honoring the SPI.
Valentine also thanked MLB pitchers Clayton Kershaw, Blake Treinen, and Trevor Williams, who all individually spoke out against the Dodgers’ re-invitation of SPI.
“This has been all over FOX News,” Valentine continued. “This has been all over secular news.” He mentioned that a “sample of what we can do when we stand together” was the MLB announcing, just days before the Dodgers’ “Pride Night,” that all teams were prohibited from forcing players to wear rainbow “pride” jerseys.
“That’s because you’re the fanbase. They can’t afford to lose people like us.”