A Christian group is urging ESPN officials to suspend writer and National Basketball League Association reporter Chris Broussard after making controversial comments on the air regarding Jason Collins’ groundbreaking coming out announcement on Monday, the Warp reports.
The group, Faithful America, whose motto is "Love thy neighbor. No exceptions.," has launched an online petition against Broussard for the anti-gay comments he made on ESPN’s "Outside the Line," just hours after Collins became the first male professional active athlete in an American major team to publicly come out as gay.
"If you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, the Bible says you know them by their fruits, it says that that’s a sin," the reporter said and further likened homosexuality to any other sex outside of marriage. "If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and Jesus Christ."
Because Broussard used Christianity to condemn Collins, Faithful America wants him to feel some heat.
"Chris Broussard’s hateful attack on Jason Collins for being gay was an unacceptable misrepresentation of the Christian faith," the petition reads. "ESPN must immediately suspend Chris Broussard and guarantee that their network will never again be used for gay bashing."
As of this writing Faithful America’s petition has received 22,815 signatures out of 25,000.
Soon after Broussard made his initial comments, he took to Twitter to expand his thoughts and wrote, "I offered my personal opinion as it relates to Christianity, a point of view that I have expressed publicly before. I realize that some people disagree with my opinion and I accept and respect that." He added his personal beliefs do not impact the way he reports on the NBA, saying, " I believe Jason Collins displayed bravery with his announcement today and I have no objection to him or anyone else playing in the NBA."
ESPN hasn’t said whether or not the reporter will be suspended, but on Tuesday its officials did make a statement, saying they "regret" that the discussion of "personal viewpoints became a distraction from today’s news." The statement also says, "ESPN is fully committed to diversity and welcomes Jason Collins’ announcement."
But not everyone is slamming Broussard for his comments. In fact, the National Organization for Marriage, a conservative group dedicated to outlawing gay marriage across the country, is applauding him.
According to Equality Matters, Jennifer Morse, founder and president of the Ruth Institute, a project of NOM, praised Broussard for being more courageous than Collins.
"I think he required more courage than the basketball player did," Morse said in an interview with Lutheran Public Radio’s "Issues, Etc." "I mean, it requires no courage at all today to say ’I’m gay.’ It’s my understanding got a phone call from the president congratulating him on his courage. Well how much courage can it take if the president’s going to pick up the phone and give you a personal phone call, you know? But in the meantime, this fellow (Broussard) who says, you know, ’I’m a Christian, and I believe that sex belongs in marriage and it belongs in a man-woman marriage,’ to say that, now that will bring the whole wrath of society down upon your head. So that’s the guy that really required the courage and I give him a lot of credit for it."
Morse added, "I was actually quite touched by his comments because - hate to say this because the gay lobby will certainly pick up on this - but I want you to know I did not coach this man at all whatsoever, but he sounds like a spokesman for the Ruth Institute because he’s there saying all of these sins are sexual sins."
Though Collins has been hit with some backlash after coming out, the NBA free agent said that the amount of support has been "incredible." A number of athletes, high-ranking political figures (President Barack Obama and former president Bill Clinton) and celebrities alike have all offered Collins support.
Additionally, Collins is also seeing support from fans who are showing their approval with their wallets. As ABC News points out, sales for Jason Collins’ custom Washington Wizards jersey have dramatically increased since coming out. The basketball team’s spokesman, Scott Hall, told ABC News that 100 percent of the sales ordered from the team’s online store were of Collins’ jersey.
Though Hall did not reveal exactly how many jerseys were sold, he did say the team’s general merchandise sales and online traffic saw a jump after Collins came out.
It should be noted that the Collins picked his jersey number, No. 98, as an homage to Matthew Shepard, the gay University of Wyoming student who was robbed and beaten to death in 1998.
From our media partner EDGEJason St. Amand