FLASHBACK: Kentucky Democrat Andy Beshear Posed With Anti-Catholic Group at Center of Dodgers Controversy

Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence now faces renewed backlash amid inclusion in MLB team's 'Pride Night'

June 2, 2023

Kentucky Democratic governor Andy Beshear in 2020 defended his decision to pose alongside the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the anti-Catholic organization that is facing renewed backlash over its participation in the Los Angeles Dodgers' "Pride Night."

Beshear, during a February 2020 LGBTQ rally at the state's Capitol Rotunda, happily posed alongside members of the group's Kentucky chapter. After the photo stirred controversy—as two of the drag queens sported what one Republican state lawmaker called "devil horns"—Beshear defended the decision to associate himself with the anti-Catholic group, saying he would "absolutely take that picture again."

Roughly three years later, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have again sparked controversy, though this time on a national scale. The Dodgers last month rescinded an offer to honor the drag group at the Major League Baseball team's June 16 Pride Night. The group's inclusion had prompted criticism from Catholics, given that Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is a self-described "order of queer and trans nuns" that has held Easter events featuring pole dancing on a cross. That decision, however, quickly prompted a new wave of criticism from LGBTQ and liberal groups, and the Dodgers went on to reissue the invitation.

The renewed focus on the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence's "queer and trans nuns" could come back to bite Beshear as the Democrat faces a difficult reelection bid against Republican challenger Daniel Cameron. Some 76 percent of Kentuckians are Christian, according to a 2017 survey, and the Archdiocese of Louisville alone is home to approximately 200,000 Catholics.

"This isn't a right or left issue. Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is a blatantly hateful group mocking religion," Republican Governors Association spokeswoman Courtney Alexander said in a statement. "As Christians across the country are offended and appalled by the obscenity and offensive behavior of this group, this is just another reminder of how out of touch Andy Beshear is with Kentuckians."

Beshear did not return a request for comment.

The son of Kentucky's 61st governor, Beshear served as the Bluegrass State’s attorney general before rising to the governor's mansion in 2019, when he beat unpopular incumbent Matt Bevin (R.) by less than 1 percentage point. Four years later, Beshear will face a more formidable challenger in Cameron, who succeeded Beshear as Kentucky's attorney general after defeating Democrat Greg Stumbo by 15 points in 2019.

Beshear's photo with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence prompted criticism from Republican state senator Philip Wheeler, who said he "never thought that there'd be a day where we'd have people dressed in devil horns celebrating with our governor in our beautiful capitol in Frankfort." In turn, Beshear said Wheeler's comments were "absolutely homophobic." Wheeler dismissed that characterization, arguing that his criticism of the group was "not an LGBTQ issue."

"It's a question of decorum, and this particular group—the post with the governor—I mean, part of their agenda is to mock people of religion by using specific religious garb," Wheeler said at the time.

Prominent MLB players have similarly criticized the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and its inclusion in the Dodgers' Pride Night.

"To invite and honor a group that makes a blatant and deeply offensive mockery of my religion, and the religion of over 4 million people in Los Angeles County alone, undermines the values of respect and inclusivity that should be upheld by any organization," Washington Nationals pitcher Trevor Williams said in a May statement. "Creating an environment in which one group feels celebrated and honored at the expense of another is counterproductive and wrong."

Beshear has a track record of embracing liberal activists who criticize Christianity. Beshear's pick to be Kentucky's "ambassador to the rest of the world," poet Silas House, has blasted evangelical Christianity, a faith nearly half of Kentuckians hold. House, in a November 2022 essay, lamented being "raised in a church of terrorists" and warned that the "Christian nationalist forces that terrorized me as a child have only grown more powerful." In a string of tweets he also blasted a majority of Kentucky's voters as homophobic bigots—the Beshear appointee has since deleted those posts.