North Carolina-based evangelist Franklin Graham says the New England Patriots should be ashamed of themselves.
His reason: The 2017 Super Bowl champions have announced they’ll be the first NFL team to sponsor the “Gay Bowl,” the national championship tournament for LGBTQ flag football teams.
Gay Bowl 17 will be held in the Boston area in early October.
In a Friday Facebook post, Graham – CEO of the Charlotte-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Association – wrote that “I’m disappointed that a great team from such a wonderful area of the country would promote a sinful lifestyle like this. Shame on them.”
Graham even deputized Facebook followers to echo his latest venture into moral policing by contacting the NFL franchise: “Let the Patriots know that you don’t support this move.”
His Friday post was shared by nearly 8,000 people, and “liked” by about 26,000.
The Gay Bowl was created in 2002, and the Patriots have long shown support for the LGBTQ community and gay athletes.
In 2003, the team sent former player Andre Tippett to that year’s Gay Bowl to officiate over the tourney’s ceremonial coin toss.
In 2015, the team as well as Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft signed an amicus brief supporting same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court’s subsequent decision legalized marriage between same-sex partners.
Kraft “was unequivocal in lending the support of the Patriots simply, he said, because it’s the right thing to do,” LGBT advocate Marc Solomon told Outsports.com. This year, Kraft attended a banquet hosted by Boston’s LGBT Flag Football group to honor Chris Morse, an LGBT high school athlete.
Kraft and Franklin Graham may not be on the same team when it comes to LGBTQ issues. But both are high-profile supporters of President Donald Trump.
Graham has used his Facebook posts in recent years as a megaphone for his opinion of what’s going on in the world.
On Monday, for example, he suggested that the University of Notre Dame, a Catholic school, should “rip up” the diplomas of those 2017 graduates who walked out in protest during Vice President Mike Pence’s commencement address.
The Washington Post contributed.