US Olympic Committee's Sexual Orientation Policy Could Paint Christians as Discriminators, Sports Ministry Leader Warns
The president of a track and field ministry has said that the United States Olympic Committee's decision to add homosexuality to its anti-discrimination policy is problematic as it could paint Christians who believe that homosexuality is a sin as discriminators.
"Christians believe homosexuality is a sin. So does that means that Christians are discriminators? Also, do we add other sin categories to the Olympic charter?" Steve McConkey, president of 4 WINDS, said in a statement on Thursday.
"What about a scenario where a Christian clothing manufacturer or business chooses to not support gay events or athletes? Or how about sports ministries that provide international trips? Will they now have to include gay athletes? Will sports ministries have to have gays in leadership positions?"
USOC's decision came after Russia passed a number of controversial laws regarding homosexuals earlier this year, including one that bars promoting homosexuality to young people. The U.S. government has strongly spoken out against such laws, which it says are anti-gay, though Russia has said it is only protecting its society and traditions. Gay-rights groups have also talked about boycotting the Russia Winter Olympics, which are coming up in February 2014.
"The fact that we do not think it is our role to advocate for a change in the Russian law does not mean that we support the law, and we do not," Scott Blackmun, the CEO of the USOC, has said.
McConkey said that he agrees that it is wrong to target gay people, but at the same time does not support USOC's new anti-discrimination policy.
"The policies are set-up for discrimination against gay athletes, but there could be reverse discrimination in the future. It is a matter of time when Christians that believe homosexuality is a sin will go against the law of the land," he added. "The Olympic movement shadows what is happening in the real world."
The International Olympic Committee has tried to assure athletes and guests that Russia's laws will not affect them:
"The IOC has received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games," it noted in a statement to USA TODAY.
"This legislation has just been passed into law and it remains to be seen whether and how it will be implemented, particularly as regards the Games in Sochi. As a sporting organization, what we can do is to continue to work to ensure that the Games can take place without discrimination against athletes, officials, spectators and the media."
It remains to be seen, however, what consequences USOC's new sexual-orientation discrimination policies will have on athletes who believe homosexuality is a sin.