Persecuted like a virgin: The faith behind a lawsuit filed by a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader

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Kristan Ann Ware, a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader, has filed a lawsuit alleging she was discriminated against, in part, because of her religion.

Oh, and because she told fellow cheerleaders she was a virgin.

Wait, what!?

Jim Davis, a former GetReligion contributor, tipped us to the story and posed a question about Ware's case: "Annnnd which religion might that be?"

Yes, that sounds like a rather pertinent question. Right?

Not so fast maybe.

USA Today gave a few clues, mentioning Ware's "religion," "virginity" and "baptism" in the first two paragraphs of its story:

Former Miami Dolphins cheerleader Kristan Ann Ware filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Dolphins and the NFL with the Florida Commission on Human Relations, alleging in the complaint that she faced discrimination and retaliation because of her religion and gender, and that she was told by two coaches in an annual work review not to discuss her virginity. 
Ware, who concluded three seasons as a Dolphins cheerleader in 2017, alleges that the team brought her severe emotional and physical distress in her last year and that NFL players are held to different standards regarding social media and expression of faith. In April of 2016, Ware posted a picture of her baptism on social media and alleges she was questioned about it by team officials before being told to not discuss her decision to abstain from sex before marriage. 

But no form of the word "Christian" appears in the report.

In a meatier, more in-depth story, the Washington Post twice mentions "God" in quoting Ware, including here:

Last month, former New Orleans Saints cheerleader Bailey Davis filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint claiming the Saints discriminated against her on the basis of gender when they fired her over an Instagram post and rumors she had been at the same party as a player. Sara Blackwell, the Florida lawyer representing Davis, is also representing Ware.
“If it wasn’t for Bailey speaking out, I would have never been able to find Sara,” Ware said. “If it wasn’t for God healing me and using my pain for his purpose, I would have never been courageous enough to tell my story. Right now is the perfect time to tell my story.”

And here:

When Ware wrote a blog post for the Dolphins website, all mentions of her faith were removed except a general reference to God, according to the complaint. The Dolphins cheerleading team’s main Instagram account did not tag or promote her Instagram posts when she mentioned religion, according to the complaint. The complaint cites players expressing religious views on social media that were not stifled and that the Dolphins had a team chaplain as examples of how players were treated differently.

Speaking of no mention of her faith except a general reference to God ... the Post, too, neglects to offer any specific details on the nature of Ware's faith, such as the fact that she is a Christian.

But give credit to the New York Times, the news organization that has been investigating the workplace conditions of NFL conditions.

The Times references Ware's Christianity up high:

Kristan Ware, who spent three seasons with the Dolphins’ cheerleading squad, ending in the spring of 2017, said in a complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations that she was subjected to a hostile work environment for her expressions of faith in Christianity.

ESPN also includes a specific note concerning Ware's Christianity.

"But that's all the religion ESPN can stand," Davis said in his email. "It shows no curiosity about the brand of Christianity, or what church Ware attends, or why she felt it important to make an issue of her faith, whether any other Dolphins cheerleaders have come to terms with their job and their faith, or …

"Y'all can take it from there."

Actually, old friend, you pretty much nailed it.

I'll just end by saying this: I'd love to see an enterprising journalist delve deeper into the specific beliefs, religious background and faith journey of Ware. 

Image of Kristan Ann Ware via Instragram


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