Pastors of three churches in Saint Clair, Mo., have declared that their softball teams from a Christian league will no longer compete against a fourth church because its pastor is openly bisexual, which they say is unbiblical.
The Rev. James Semmelroth Darnell, 27. shared with Fox News that in response, his St. John United Church of Christ team, based in Saint Clairteam, is pulling out of the league because they do not want to cause further controversy.
"Three teams had issue with that and no longer wanted to play against our team since I am an out bisexual person," the Rev. Darnell explained. "And it's surprising because I don't even play, I have no affiliation with the league."
The pastor, who completed his seminary training in Washington, D.C., admitted to having suspected that his open sexuality might cause "some difficulty," but did not imagine fellow pastors of surrounding churches would be offended to such a level.
"It's very different than the nation's capital, but I certainly didn't expect this," he said. "I don't feel that anyone's sexual orientation has anything to do with how they play softball or just to enjoy each other's company during a game."
Bethel Baptist Church, Friendship Baptist Church and Liberty Baptist Church reportedly all said that their teams would no longer compete against St. John United Church because they found the Rev. Darnell's sexuality incompatible with biblical teachings.
"We believe that God's word speaks clearly about boundaries, and that lifestyle is outside of those boundaries," the Rev. Ben Kingston, pastor of Bethel Baptist Church, apparently told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
"We call ourselves a Christian softball league," Kingston added. "And if we call ourselves that, we want to be that."
The Christian Post attempted to reach the league's commissioner, the Rev. Johnny Dover, pastor of Friendship Baptist Church, but messages and emails were not returned at the time of press.
"I called their coach and asked if it was true," the Rev. Dover was quoted to have said by the RNS, after he first heard the rumor that the Rev. Darnell was bisexual. When the information was confirmed, Dover, Kingston, and the Rev. Wyatt Otten, pastor of Liberty Baptist Church, made the decision to stop their softball teams from playing against the bisexual pastor's team.
Explaining the decision to pull the St. John United Church of Christ team from the league, the Rev. Darnell said that he did not want to ruin the league for the rest, even though the church had fielded a team for the past 12 years.
"The sad thing of it is," Dover added, "no matter how good or bad that team is playing, they are always having fun."