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May 2nd, 2013
12:52 PM ET

Ex-NFL player's support for gay NBA player apparently costs him church appearance

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – LeRoy Butler, a former safety for the Green Bay Packers, is one of many professional athletes to tweet support for Jason Collins, the NBA player who came out as gay this week.

“Congrats to Jason Collins,” Butler tweeted April 29, the day Collins came out in a Sports Illustrated cover story.

But Butler says the four-word tweet cost him a speaking appearance at a Wisconsin church.

He was scheduled to speak at the church (whose name he has not revealed) about bullying and his new book, "The LeRoy Butler Story: From Wheelchair to the Lambeau Leap." That was until the church, according to Butler, told him he was no longer welcome because of his tweet in support of Collins.

"The pastor called me and that's when we got into the old, the whole religion thing about gay people and things of that nature and the conversation just went back and forth for us a couple of minutes," Butler told Anderson Cooper on Thursday.

After the exchange with the pastor, Butler took to twitter to express his frustration.

Butler later tweeted that “some parents went to the church and complained about my tweet” supporting Collins. The church, according to Butler, said that if the football player apologized, he would be allowed to speak.

"They basically said this, if you apologize, ask God for forgiveness and remove the tweet, you'll be able to do this speaking engagement with the kids," he said. "I won't do that. That's taking my dignity and respect away."

He continued: "I told the pastor, blame it on my mom because my mom brought me up to love everybody."

Butler recently tweeted that the church apologized for the incident and thanked him “for not releasing the church name.”

Butler played 11 years, from 1990 to 2001, with the Packers and helped them win a Super Bowl in 1997. He was a four-time All-Pro selection, the highest honor for a year of work in the NFL, and is credited with inventing the Lambeau Leap, the iconic touchdown celebration in which a Packer leaps into the Lambeau Field stands to celebrate with fans.

As for Butler's stance on gay athletes in professional sports, he said they have "support from straight guys like me that won't judge them."

"If we win a Super Bowl ring, I don't care who you bring to the ring ceremony, I just want to win the ring," Butler said. "That's what it's all about. ... Isn't that what it's all about? Winning the championship? Not who is in my bed when I turn the lights out."

Since retiring, Butler has been active in the Green Bay community, and his Facebook page chronicles appearances and speeches he has given to churches in the area.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Belief • Same-sex marriage

soundoff (3,002 Responses)
  1. science

    Star dust we are.

    Pebbly Rocks Testify to Old Streambed On Mars..........and the asteroid that flattened mars aye chadfie !

    May 30, 2013 — Detailed analysis and review have borne out researchers' initial interpretation of pebble-containing slabs that NASA's Mars rover Curiosity investigated last year: They are part of an ancient streambed.

    More information about Curiosity is online at: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/msl , http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ .

    You can follow the mission on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity .

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130530150547.htm

    AND the easy to do ............shows you that there is NO red horn-y thingy.

    For all creationists and ID believers...............IT only takes minutes to figure IT out. No fairy in the sky needed !

    New Device Can Extract Human DNA With Full Genetic Data in Minutes

    May 6, 2013 — Take a swab of saliva from your mouth and within minutes your DNA could be ready for analysis and genome sequencing with the help of a new device.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130506132100.htm

    Have a great life and look up for that falling chondrite !

    May 30, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
  2. Gary Sellars

    Good for that Church. Churches need to be responsible for having men of God speak, not posers who are doing it for the money and have no concern about the witness of their words when they're NOT getting paid.

    May 19, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • stubbycat

      I want to thank Mr. Butler for his loving and principled support of Mr. Collins. As for that so-called "church" in Wisconsin that disallowed Butler's appearance for his support of Collins, I cross off that group as non-representative of the Master who said, "love your neighbor" and who healed the most hideous form of human disease based on his deep spirituality and love.

      May 22, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  3. mique

    A-H-H-H-H. Another group of loving Christians. Spread the wurd of your luvin' gauwd! They are a comical lot at best.

    May 16, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
  4. Mangoman

    Obviously, only Christians are permitted to speak their minds, but only if they agree with what that particular brand of Christianity believes. WWJT?

    May 16, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
  5. Anna

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oY9qx5OuKGY&w=640&h=390]
    +

    May 15, 2013 at 5:23 am |
  6. alpeaston

    Oh go on... release the name of the church! Let them experience bigotry on the "other" end!

    May 13, 2013 at 5:32 am |
  7. hippypoet

    you're looking for a great site to chat religion on... check out Poetic Atheism on facebook

    May 11, 2013 at 12:35 am |
  8. Science

    For all creationists and ID believers...............IT only takes minutes to figure IT out. No fairy in the sky needed !

    New Device Can Extract Human DNA With Full Genetic Data in Minutes

    May 6, 2013 — Take a swab of saliva from your mouth and within minutes your DNA could be ready for analysis and genome sequencing with the help of a new device.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130506132100.htm

    May 10, 2013 at 6:39 am |
    • Treebeard

      In the old days, I used to poop and walk 3 million miles uphill both ways in the snow before breakfast!

      May 10, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • Science

      And the bear sh-its in the woods.

      peace

      May 11, 2013 at 7:05 am |
    • Akira

      Yes, Treebeard, but were you barefoot?

      May 11, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.