A religious leader wants America’s oldest major professional sports league to explain how it can claim to support rights while, at the same time, deal with a foreign dictatorship that abuses fundamental human rights.
William Donohue thought Major League Baseball (MLB) was trying to stand up for civil liberties when it publicly boycotted state Senate Bill 202, requiring Georgians to produce identification for absentee ballots, limiting drop boxes, and amending early voting hours across the Peach State.
However, he now accuses the MLB of hypocrisy because the league renewed its contract with a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) linked technology group just a few days after.
“Why did MLB just renew its contract with Tencent, the company with close ties to the CCP?” the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights president said in an open letter published by CNSNews. “While your objections to the voting reform law in Georgia are baseless, let us assume nonetheless that you have a genuine interest in alleged violations of human rights.”
The deal involves expanding live game broadcasts and membership services with Oriental Pearl New Media. Theoretically, MLB can broadcast copyrighted content to up to 100 million households across mainland China. At least one game will be shown each day at bus terminals and subways. About 200 games will also be available for live broadcast and on-demand viewing.
“You must be very proud of MLB’s expansion into Communist China [and,] after all, the Chinese people need some relief from the totalitarian conditions under which they live–and this is particularly true of those who take their religion seriously,” Donohue said. “Unfortunately, their rights are being summarily abused by the government that you support.”
He described religious persecution in China as having reached “obscene levels,” with so-called prisoners of conscience representing the “largest contingent of prisoners in China.”
“If you are exercised about alleged violations of human rights in Georgia, such as requiring voters to show ID (the same ID that MLB insists on to pick up baseball tickets at the Will Call window before games), surely you must be up-in-arms over the monstrous conditions in China,” Donohue said. “Sadly, I see no evidence that you are.”
Untold numbers of peaceful Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa) meditation adherents have faced arbitrary arrest, jail, torture, organ harvesting, and even death since 1999. Their only crime is practicing standing and sitting meditation exercises and behaving honestly, compassionately, and patiently in daily life.
“Buddhists and members of the Falun Gong are also persecuted,” Donohue said. “Practitioners of Falun Gong have had their organs harvested in prison.”
Native Uighur people have separately faced what could be considered a form of cultural genocide that involves forced labor and forced sterilization operations.
“The Chinese communists have engaged in genocide against the Uighurs, a Muslim ethnic minority [and] that was the conclusion of the U.S. government in 2021,” Donohue said. “Upwards of 2 million have had their religious rights decimated [and,] according to the Council on Foreign Relations, torture is common in the ‘reeducation’ camps, and reports of women being sexually abused and raped are ongoing.”
Catholics and protestants have also complained about CCP authorities raiding churches and stripping believers of their crosses.
“They are forbidden from having their own independent clergy, forced to accept communist-chosen priests, bishops, and ministers,” Donohue said. “Christmas is practically forbidden, and Catholics and Protestants have had to post images of Xi Jinping, the tyrant who runs the communist party.”
Donohue believes MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred appears to be more concerned about appealing to liberal activists than combating severe human rights abuse.
“Where does this leave us? To be specific, could you please explain how you can aid and abet genocide in Communist China while boycotting Georgia over a non-issue?” he said. “Does it all come down to making money and sucking up to left-wing activists? If so, what does that make you, Mr. Manfred?”