The Washington Nationals on Tuesday suspended clubhouse credentials for a prayer service leader after a flap over comments about Jews.
Club officials said Jon Moeller (above) will not be allowed access to the locker room while the team investigates. Meantime, the Nationals have asked the Christian ministry Baseball Chapel, which oversees clubhouse prayer services, to provide a replacement.
An article published Sunday in The Washington Post described outfielder Ryan Church asking Moeller if Jews are “doomed” because they do not believe in Jesus ” to which Moeller reportedly nodded.
In a team statement issued Tuesday, Church said, “I am not the type of person who would call into question the religious beliefs of others.”
Team president Tony Tavares said the reported remarks “do not, in any manner, reflect the views or opinions of the Washington Nationals franchise.”
Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, who leads Washington’s oldest Orthodox synagogue, Ohev Sholom Talmud Torah, said, “The Nationals did a good job about bringing hate into the locker room.”
Herzfeld said he met with Tavares for about 30 minutes Tuesday after denouncing the reported remarks at a news conference outside RFK Stadium. He described the meeting as productive, but said he would continue to follow the situation.
Another Jewish leader, Rabbi Ethan Seidel of the Tifereth Israel synagogue, said, “Yeah, no one likes to be told they’re going to hell, but Christians have been saying that for thousands of years.”
The offending passage in question from Sunday’s Post :
The players not only pray, but they also discuss personal matters — marital tension, addiction issues, family illnesses, financial stress — drawing sometimes surprising lessons. (Ryan) Church was concerned because his former girlfriend was Jewish. He turned to Moeller, “I said, like, Jewish people, they don’t believe in Jesus. Does that mean they’re doomed? Jon nodded, like, that’s what it meant. My ex-girlfriend! I was like, man, if they only knew. Other religions don’t know any better. It’s up to us to spread the word.”
There’s no truth to the rumor that Charlie Ward has already applied for Moeller’s position.
Speaking of doomed, the Nationals appear to be over and done in the Wild Card chase, having just lost to the Giants, 4-3 at RFK. Baseball’s only true higher power, Barry Bonds, hit his 706th career HR, a solo shot off Livian Hernandez in the 4th inning.