The Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova is getting some unwanted attention for its adult women’s softball league after ousting a team coach because she is gay.
According to Jana J. Jacobson, church officials referred to her “deviant” lifestyle when saying that her team could not compete in the league. She had been called into a meeting with church officials on June 8, when the issue came up.
“Finally, in my frustration, I said that I am going to be clear. I am gay, and I find all of this to be absurd and against the word of God as I know it,” she told the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
Jacobson’s team, which has both gay and straight players, had been playing one night a week in Bartlett and wanted to play more games. When they found out in May that the Bellevue team was letting non-church teams in, they applied. Registration fees were paid, organizational meetings were attended, and the rules — no alcohol, smoking, cursing or offensive terms on uniforms — were duly noted.
And then Jacobson was requested to appear before the church’s minister for sports outreach, a meeting that finally took place the day before the season began. She says that a rule forbidding public displays of affection was added to the existing list, and that her lifestyle was brought up. At this point, she acknowledged her homosexuality.
"I continued with … ‘This is silly, we’re simply here to play ball,’" the coach said in an e-mail to the Commercial Appeal.
Jim Barnwell, Bellevue’s director of communications, has said the church has no plans to comment on Jacobson’s version of events.