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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
[twitter-follow screen_name='DanMericaCNN']

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. Observer

    They probably could have Tim Tebow for a lot less. 🙂

    May 2, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
    • lol??

      I can even undercut the Tbow, what with lower taxes and expenses and all. Heck, I even missed the "cash for clunkers" because they said I had to get er done, err there.

      May 2, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
  2. Bid

    Based on your tweets, I wouldn't pay you more than 85 cents.

    May 2, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
  3. Sam

    Religion = ROOT OF ALL EVIL

    May 2, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
    • Jim

      Organized religion. As per Butler's sweet – "FYI the fee was 8500$,then I was told if i removed the tweet, and apologize and ask god forgiveness, I can have the event, I said no" That's not God telling Leroy, that's the church. It's their right as an organization – but it makes them look dumb. God is great – what's we've done within the church setting in many cases is not.

      May 2, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

      1 Timothy 6:10

      Amen.

      May 4, 2013 at 12:01 am |
  4. D-Rome

    I think it's absurd for a church to be $8500 to someone for a speaking appearance. Shouldn't that money go to feeding the homeless or providing clothes to poor children?

    May 2, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
    • beezers

      yes, yes it should... and that's why you'll never see my church paying anything for some football player to speak to a congregation.

      May 2, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
    • faith

      you'd be crying if they gave him a tenor

      May 2, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
    • redarrow32

      Sponsors pay his fee and the church collects donations for the church. Don't take this as anything but a money making endeavor in the name of the lord.

      And btw, good on Leroy Butler for having his own thoughts and beliefs, and not relying on a 2,000 year old fictional book.

      May 2, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
    • Fearless Freep

      Preacher could have put a nice down payment on a Mercedes.
      Nice hotel room and an alter boy.

      May 2, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
    • faith

      where are the violins?

      May 2, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
  5. faith

    "William Demuth
    Tell your God to blow me.
    I live and die as I see fit, without his blessing or input.
    He is a coward who hides behind old ladies and pedophilles"

    spell much?

    al qaeda, did you curse out william defoe here? get on it kid

    May 2, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
  6. alienmom

    not to worry.he will gain more speaking engagements due to his non reactive comments to the "church"

    May 2, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      Probably to LGBT friendly and focused churches.

      May 2, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
    • lol??

      The what?? LGBTIKHRCJFKELVISKEYBYOB?

      May 2, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      Lesbian, Gay, Bise'xual and Transgendered.

      May 2, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
  7. lol??

    For 7500 I can tell the church about the A&A's bullyin' on CNN's belief blogs.

    May 2, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
    • sam

      Shove it, crybaby.

      May 2, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • lol??

      Feeeeelll da LUV!

      EEEEeeeeeewww

      May 2, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
  8. MrCrewel Dude

    Do u people ever STFU.

    May 2, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
    • sam

      Why'd you click on the link?

      May 2, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
  9. Jim

    What if a gay person is very generous, helps old people cross the road, gives 10% of their income to charity, is respectful to others, and is very loyal to their partner. Oh my god, now that person is better than ME and my hetero friends. But hey, it's ALL about se$xual orientation. That's WHAT makes the person!

    May 2, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • fred

      no, it all has to do with the purpose of life

      May 2, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • Observer

      fred,

      If the purpose of life is reproduction, both gays and lesbians can reproduce so that's invalid.

      So what is the "purpose of life"?

      May 2, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • .

      And what does sexual orientation have to do with your purpose in life? NOTHING!

      May 2, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • Jim

      The mysterious purpose of life....oh yes......to procreate. I can think of no other reason to live. Dang, and I just got my teenager out of the house.

      May 2, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
    • Jim

      Please don't knock the comment on the purpose of life. It is valid – did you see Steve Martin in the show "The Jerk". That's what he concluded too – there's only one purpose.

      May 2, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
    • stevetall

      I have a special purpose! It's great!!

      May 2, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
    • fred

      Observer
      The purpose of life in a marco sense is to reflect the glory of God through creation. By that I mean if God elected to do nothing then there would only be an eternal void throughout the abyss. The glory of God is the eternal manifestation of radiant creativity rooted in perfect goodness.
      The purpose of life to the individual is a lifetime of opportunity to rid self of all that could never join with eternal goodness. The Bible likes to use the model of being like Christ and giving yourself to Christ.

      May 3, 2013 at 1:29 am |
  10. theoldfool1950

    I would just like to voice my support of LeRoy Butler. He did the right thing, all the way around this equation. The church better get its act together. To demonize a minority segment of the population because they are different, because of the way they are born is no different than discriminating against someone because of where they were born. A church that is not inclusive is a bit of a contradiction, isnt it? It's time for us to start questioning their values. In fact, it's long past time.

    May 2, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • Narchais

      Agreed. he had his opinion, he expressed in a polite and appropriate manner. When an organization attempted to punish him for his opinion, he remained true to himself. Thats what this world needs more than anything right now, people who are true to what they believe is right. Too many people and groups feel they can buy and force opinions onto others, and its sad that so many of them are proven correct in their ability to do so.

      May 2, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
  11. Jim

    The church can do what it wants. it's a free country. Unfortunately for it, it starts losing relevance when it keeps someone out JUST because they support somebody that they don't agree with. He wasn't going to give a sermon on how everybody should be gay. but hey, the church needs to be true to what it is even to it's own detriment. And I have the right to say organized religion is a bunch of bunk.

    May 2, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
    • theoldfool1950

      You have the right and I thank you for doing it. It's long past time to push back. Keep pushing

      May 2, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
    • faith

      no sir bubub. keep your opinions to yourself. it is bad enough that you are a sick, demented, hateful bigot, but if you don't ram your views down our throats, you can hang here, for now

      May 2, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
  12. Mark

    The hypocrisy of those who claim to be the most devout never ceases to amaze. Once again, organized religion shows its true colors.

    May 2, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
  13. markiejoe

    Oh please. The church name is all over the interweb.

    May 2, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
  14. JFCanton

    I think I'd be more upset that my church was blowing $8500 on a speaker.

    May 2, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
  15. Patrick Henry

    Cry me a hand full LeRoy. What an egotistical , selfish, "look-at-me-everybody" spoiled pro football player. You want to extoll the virtues of sodomy, go ahead, but don't cry to the media when a church disinvites you for it.

    May 2, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Delusional hyperbole.

      May 2, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Oh, shove it.

      May 2, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
    • Observer

      Patrick Henry,

      Millions of heteros engage in sodomy. Ask your male hetero friends.

      May 2, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
    • .

      He said congrats to a person, he isn't extolling to virtues of sodomy, you hysteric.

      May 2, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
    • Dance This Mess Around

      Funny, the only one I hear crying is you.

      May 2, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • theoldfool1950

      You are so not living up to your name. Who are you to tell people how to live? You are the problem.

      May 2, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      🙂 🙁 🙂

      May 2, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
  16. DocHollywood

    Mr. Butler was an excellent football player, and is apparently a great role model for athletes who got so much from their fans. He is attempting to give back to his community by appearances to combat bullying. He has shown compassion to both a human being who follows a different role, and an organization that ridicules his personal beliefs. Too bad churches cannot live up to the preachings they so eaisly hand out. I hope the congregation of this church takes a long, hard look at themselves and decide if they want to follow the teachings of the man called Jesus or their own bigoted beliefs. In church, there is only room for one of those.

    May 2, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
    • Patrick Henry

      Another liberal diatribe. This football player is the best person in the whole world (crying), and the big, mean, evil church did something mean to him (crying even more)........

      May 2, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
    • .

      Patrick henry, HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HJA HA HA HA, aw, is Doc being a little more like Jesus than you'd like, showing exceptance a fucking puke sick GOPTPer can't? Fuck you, conservitard. You're a dying breed.

      May 2, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Wheat among the tares will ever be up to the gardeners to decide when to pluck for many tares grow faster then the wheat and choke much, killing much goodly wheat before harvest time.

      May 2, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
    • .

      Uh, WHAT, lackluster? Maresy doats and dosey doats, you fucking retard.

      May 2, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • Dance This Mess Around

      Patrick Henry

      Another liberal diatribe

      No, another educated human being.

      May 2, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
    • ..

      Giving back to the community??? For the low, low price of $8500 he was 'giving' back to the community... Riiiiightttt...

      May 2, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
  17. lionlylamb

    Like I made mention earlier,

    Funny things gays. I was always under the impression that gays were the sky pilots of stoned towers,,,,, my bad,,, 🙁

    They are fairy nice people many a gay is! Sorry God, didn't mean to infringe upon what those atheist fruit of the looms tell you out to be!

    May 2, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Do you really think this post is so witty and wise that you needed to repeat it? You are such a boomin' idiot.

      May 2, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
    • .

      Oh, go beat your brother up, gibberishboy.

      May 2, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
    • Science

      Oh well..............Loony...........the fairy resides between your ears only !

      Scientists Find Genes Linked to Human Neurological Disorders in Sea Lamprey Genome

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130224142915.htm

      May 2, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
  18. David Motari

    Shouldn't there be a "moral clause" against a church paying $8500 for a guest speaker..?

    May 2, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
  19. ziggydoda

    LeRoy, thanks for standing your ground against religious hypocrites!

    May 2, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • Patrick Henry

      Throwing up....

      May 2, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
    • Observer

      Patrick Henry,

      See if you can vomit out some of your hypocrisy.

      May 2, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
  20. brooks

    the lambs judgement is upon us! Just like Mcdonalds says, "Have it your way!"

    May 2, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
    • Dippy

      Burger King says that, not McDonalds.

      May 2, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
    • theoldfool1950

      Do you get everything wrong?

      May 2, 2013 at 8:42 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.