What Would Happen if a Major League Pitcher Drew an Atheist Symbol on the Mound Before a Game?

Michael Vines, a St. Louis Cardinals fan, recently noticed that there were Christian symbols on the mound when Adam Wainwright was pitching:

For what it’s worth, while that symbol near the bottom left looks like a Jesus Fish, it’s actually the number 6, in honor of Cardinals legend Stan Musial.

But there’s no doubt about that cross.

Vines doesn’t get why religious symbols of any kind should be allowed on the mound:

… [Vines] told us that his gripe is not with the fact that they are Christian images, but that he belives there shouldn’t be religious symbols of any kind on a baseball field.

“How come nobody’s mentioning this?” he says. “It’s totally inappropriate.”

Vines argues that there are “plenty of Major League Baseball players who don’t want that in their face…. There may be Christian Cardinals who don’t like it.”

Vines is Jewish but says he would not want a Star of David on the mound either.

Most commenters online don’t seem to care. Hell, they didn’t even notice it was there. Still, just think about what the reaction would be if a pitcher etched out the “Scarlet A” or the word “atheist” on the mound. What if it were a Muslim symbol? Would people be reacting the same way?

Shouldn’t there be some rules against overtly promoting religion at a game?

To play Devil’s Advocate, though, how is Wainwright’s mound cross any different from a player thanking God moments after hitting a home run?

David Brown at Big League Stew writes:

Good for [Vines], really, but the St. Louis Cardinals might be getting carried away with the “Saint” in St. Louis. (Hey, and maybe the “Cardinals” part, too, now that you mention it.) Religious references are not uncommon in a heavily Catholic city like St. Louis, but you won’t (or shouldn’t) find the cross on, say, the Arch. Of course, that’s public land. Busch Stadium might be privately owned, but it didn’t get built without tax breaks. Legally, as Vines points out, that gives the public “skin in the game.”

It’s not a surefire legal victory here since sports leagues are privately-owned, but why risk alienating non-Christian fans?

The NCAA rewrote the rulebook to prohibit religious messages after Tim Tebow referred to Bible verses on his eye black. Why can’t Major League Baseball do something similar here?

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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