Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig is reviewing Major League Baseball's cooperation with Baseball Chapel, an evangelical Christian group, in the wake of Washington Nationals outfielder Ryan Church's remarks about Jews being doomed for eternity, a spokesman for Selig said yesterday.
"Obviously, he's very concerned about it," spokesman Rich Levin said. "We are reviewing the whole relationship with Baseball Chapel."
On Sept. 19, Church was quoted in The Washington Post as saying that he had asked the Nationals' volunteer chaplain, Jon Moeller, whether Jews were "doomed" because "they don't believe in Jesus" and that Moeller nodded yes. The following day, Nationals President Tony Tavares suspended Moeller and distributed an apology from Church. Tavares also informed the commissioner's office.
"We thought they handled it properly, that it was right to suspend Moeller," Levin said. The spokesman declined to say how long Selig's review of Baseball Chapel would take, or to discuss what options are under consideration.
Moeller, who is also an FBI agent, declined to comment. Vince Nauss, president of Baseball Chapel, which has supplied unpaid chaplains to professional baseball teams for 30 years, said he had not heard from Selig. "We'll have nothing to say until our conversations conclude with the Nationals," he said.
The American Family Association, a Christian organization based in Tupelo, Miss., is circulating a petition in defense of Moeller and Church.
In a Sept. 21 letter to Selig, Rabbi Ari Sunshine of Charlotte questioned why Baseball Chapel is "the sole Christian ministry granted access" to all major league teams and suggested rotating chaplains from various denominations.
"I, of course, share the concerns that you have raised and I will take steps to insure that much of what you have written is implemented into Major League Baseball," Selig wrote back. "I was deeply offended by what happened with Ryan Church and Jon Moeller."