WASHINGTON -- The chapel leader for the Washington Nationals
was suspended Tuesday after a flap over a response to a question about Jews.
Jon Moeller will not be allowed access to the clubhouse while
the team investigates. The Nationals have asked the Christian
ministry Baseball Chapel, which appoints and oversees the
volunteers, to provide a replacement.
According to an article published Sunday in The Washington Post,
Nationals outfielder Ryan Church said he asked Moeller if Jews are
"doomed" because they do not believe in Jesus. Church said
Moeller nodded, the Post reported.
A team statement Tuesday quoted Church as saying he is "not the
type of person who would call into question the religious beliefs
of others." The statement also quoted team president Tony Tavares
as saying the reported remarks "do not, in any manner, reflect the
views or opinions of the Washington Nationals franchise."
In a release distributed by the team on Tuesday, Church said: "Those who know me on a personal level understand that I am not the type of person who would call into question the religious beliefs of others. I sincerely regret if the quote attributed to me in Sunday's Washington Post article offended anyone."
Vince Nauss, president of Baseball Chapel, said the group
understood the Nationals' position, but added that Moeller had
served the team well. In an e-mail to The Associated Press, Nauss
said the group planned to talk with the team before taking any
action. Moeller could not be reached for comment.
"The Nationals did a good job about bringing hate into the
locker room," said Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, who leads the city's
oldest Orthodox synagogue, Ohev Sholom Talmud Torah.
Herzfeld said he met with Tavares for about 30 minutes Tuesday
after denouncing the reported remarks at a news conference
interrupted by security officials outside RFK Stadium.
He described the meeting with Tavares as productive, but said he
would continue to follow the situation.
Ron Halber, executive director of the Jewish Community Council
of Greater Washington, said it would be more appropriate if
non-denominational prayers were offered so players of all
backgrounds could participate.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.