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. Smeagel4T

    It's a good thing Butler found out about how bigoted the church is before accidentally speaking there. Note that it didn't even have anything to do with gay marriage. This wasn't even the case of a church taking the position of "defending marriage" from their self-righteous point of view. It was solely a desire to be bigoted against other human beings - you know, just like when Jesus was preaching "hate thy neighbor".

    May 3, 2013 at 12:20 am |
  2. Apple Bush

    I wish there was a way to organize and have all he gays come out and march on every major city in he world. Millions of people. It would be beautiful.

    May 3, 2013 at 12:13 am |
    • D

      How about the she gays?

      May 3, 2013 at 12:38 am |
  3. dan

    Churches should stick to the basics and not wade into the culture wars. And why should a church pay big bucks to an athlete when the money could go to the poor? Misplaced priorities all the way around. The "feel good" churches have not served our society too well.

    May 3, 2013 at 12:06 am |
    • PaulB

      They likely knew that they could make tons more money through collections from those hearing the speech. Spend a little to make a lot. Standard business practice.

      May 3, 2013 at 12:48 am |
  4. fellow the Bible

    Gay is rebellion against God If you read the NLT Bible Mark 10:5-6 But Jesus responded, " he wrote those intructions only as a concession to your hard-hearted wickedness. But God's plan was seenfrom the beginning of creation, for He made them male and female.

    May 3, 2013 at 12:04 am |
    • Observer

      Yep. It takes male and female to reproduce. S3xual orientation is not absolutely critical.

      May 3, 2013 at 12:07 am |
    • skarphace

      fellow: the Bible also teaches that prosti tution is wrong, does it not? And yet, Jesus kept a prosti tute in his fold and treated her with respect and gave her love and his teachings. Why is the Church above Jesus that it cannot do the same for those who sin?

      In addition, who are you to be Judge? Isn't that the job of God Himself? Why should you have the right to judge what is considered a sin and what sins should be so heinous that those sinners should not be allowed to worship God? Why do you put yourself above others and not consider that a sin?

      Deal with your own sins and ask for forgiveness for yourself. Leave the sins of others to God. He can handle it better than you can.

      May 3, 2013 at 12:17 am |
    • Justin

      If God didn't want us to put our hand in the cookie jar, he or she wouldn't have created it. All that is, God created. It's a hard concept to grasp. Even the logic behind it was created by God.

      May 3, 2013 at 12:21 am |
    • ryan

      If this is the case then why do we let women speak at church? Its in the bible that they cannot speak on the Sabbath. Ignorant bible huggers.

      May 3, 2013 at 12:24 am |
    • Max

      Eating lobster is a rebellion against God as well. Go point your finger at the people of Maine!

      May 3, 2013 at 12:49 am |
  5. lol??

    "Carolyn Moos, Jason Collins’ longtime girlfriend, said Tuesday that she never suspected the man she spent the better part of a decade with was gay — even when he called off their engagement in 2009."

    Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/basketball/jason-collins-girlfriend-clue-gay-article-1.1331903#ixzz2SCN4vyae

    Collins better watch his back if Moos has a father or brother.

    May 3, 2013 at 12:01 am |
  6. matty-o

    How stupid. The church is filled with gay pedophiles and they dont like a gay basketball player. Not to associate a pedophile with gay people, but im just saying that a male pedos are gay because they get off on young boys. I'll befriend a gay basketball player any day over a gay pedo. Thats why I will go to NBA games and not church. Church literally sucks....young boys.

    May 2, 2013 at 11:52 pm |
    • PaulB

      I think that they've demonstrated that it's mostly because boys are so easily shamed into keeping their abuse quiet with the fear of being called gay that they're targeted by male pedophiles. Most male pedophiles of boys are otherwise straight in their adult relationships.

      May 3, 2013 at 12:02 am |
  7. Reality

    The Philadelphia Inquirer review “Gay Gene, Deconstructed”, 12/12/2011. Said review addresses the following “How do genes associated with ho-mose-xuality avoid being weeded out by Darwinian evolution?”

    "Most scientists who study human se-xuality agree that gay people are born that way. But that consensus raises an evolutionary puzzle: How do genes associated with h-omose-xuality avoid being weeded out by Darwinian evolution?"

    May 2, 2013 at 11:50 pm |
    • Observer

      For the same reason that genes associated with people being left-handed don't get weeded out by evolution.

      May 2, 2013 at 11:55 pm |
    • PaulB

      Maybe there's an advantage to same gender pairings when populations rise too quickly, and having fewer offspring aids in keeping disease and starvation down?

      May 3, 2013 at 12:06 am |
    • tallulah13

      From what I've read, the "gay gene" theory has been debunked, and that the hormone level in the womb is the most likely factor.

      May 3, 2013 at 12:23 am |
    • skarphace

      Reality: Down's Syndrome can also be traced to a gene and has not been 'weeded out' by evolution. Is having Down's Syndrome therefore a choice? Should the Churches discriminate against them?

      May 3, 2013 at 12:25 am |
    • Reality


      I recommend that you reread my comments. Also, please read the referenced Inquirer article. It is on-line and free.

      May 3, 2013 at 12:42 am |
  8. Skeptical

    This guy is obviously making it up to garner attention and capitalize off of Collin's support for his announcement that he is "down-low" I mean gay. What church do you know would pay someone $8500 and not advertise the event? A member would definitely have stepped forward by now. You guys are so guliable

    May 2, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Or perhaps you are just trying to feel important by calling someone else a liar. I suspect that is the real situation.

      May 3, 2013 at 12:24 am |
  9. Bob 'rehoboth-beach foodie" Yesbek

    Thank God not everyone is on the 'Oh..he is gay..that's cool" bandwagon.

    May 2, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
    • Larry

      His sports talent makes him cool; being gay is just the way he was born.

      May 3, 2013 at 12:09 am |
    • skarphace

      So let me get this straight. You are thanking God that some people are still bigots?

      May 3, 2013 at 12:27 am |
  10. PA

    Good for the church!!! Exactly what Jesus would have done.

    May 2, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      That is a dangerous statement to make.

      May 2, 2013 at 11:42 pm |
    • matty-o

      With that mentality, your Jesus would lure young boys and molest them. Real good. Now extract that foot from your mouth please.

      May 2, 2013 at 11:54 pm |
    • Dennis

      That is what Jesus would do? Didn't Jesus say don't judge unless thee be judged. Also didn't he say he without sin shall cast the first stone.

      May 2, 2013 at 11:59 pm |
    • Larry

      When did Jesus ever stop people from voicing their opinions, or showing compassion? If anything, isn't this an example of treating others the way you'd like to be treated?

      May 3, 2013 at 12:14 am |
    • skarphace

      PA: you are so right. Because isn't that what he did to Mary, the Prosti tute? Cast her out and made her feel ashamed? No? Then maybe, just maybe, you are unclear on the concept of the teachings of Jesus.

      May 3, 2013 at 12:30 am |
    • tallulah13

      While I'm not even certain that Jesus even existed, much less was the son of god, he was never represented as a closed-mind bigot.

      May 3, 2013 at 12:46 am |
  11. freedomliker

    How can a church decide who can speak to thier congregation? They need to obey the law of social norms as defined by
    The comments on CNN comments section. These highly respected athiest scholars have issued the decree that must surely be accepted by all.

    May 2, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
    • senseic


      May 2, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
    • senseic

      sigh... snicker consumed by odd handling of &lt and &gt signs.

      May 2, 2013 at 11:42 pm |
    • tallulah13

      They can decide whatever they want. However, actions have consequences. The consequences of this action is the scorn of people who believe in fairness and equality.

      May 3, 2013 at 12:48 am |
  12. pwmcgill

    Time to release the church name! Any church that doesn't love everyone is a hypocritical and of no use to society. Is it any wonder that atheism is on the rise and Christianity and church participation is in a free fall?

    May 2, 2013 at 11:31 pm |
    • Dippy

      There are other reasons beside that. The sheer preposterousness of religion is beginning to dawn on many people. Science marches on, trampling stuck-in-the-mud religion.

      May 2, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
    • Jesus freaker

      Time to release the church name!

      Here you go. Any church USA.

      May 3, 2013 at 12:10 am |
  13. Bayousara

    Leroy, you might want to reconsider where you put your heart and mind when it comes to religion. There are so many wonderful Christian churches in America that are all inclusive and embrace everyone. The minister at the church that turned you away as a speaker is not Christian. He has no concept of what Jesus taught, to love one another and to not judge. I am not a Christian but I am an admirer of what Christ taught. Just move on. Don't let this mess define YOU.

    May 2, 2013 at 11:28 pm |
    • Akira

      I don't think he will be doing that at all. As usual, the MSM has made a mountain out of a molehill.
      I think Mr. Butler is a very fine man, actually, and has taken the high road in this matter.
      Next week, it will have been forgotten.

      May 2, 2013 at 11:33 pm |
  14. CBP

    Now we are judging people before they even speak two words. Please show us how that refusal to allow this man to speak to church members shows brotherly love or support. It is mind-boggling to think that people are so judgmental and still call themselves a member of an established religious group or sect. Is this really what the commandments tell us to do? How does this all translate to loving your fellow man or woman? Is this just another example of a church trying to determine who members will see and hear? Isn't this just a bit too controlling?

    May 2, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
    • PaulB

      It's not what he would have said while giving the talk; it's the fact that he praised someone for coming out. There may have been some fear that this would have come up during Q & A after the talk, and that would have been ... awkward.

      May 3, 2013 at 12:23 am |
  15. Blackhorsearmy

    God isn't the problem, man made religions are.

    May 2, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
    • PaulB

      "God" is the deity of several man-made religions.

      May 3, 2013 at 12:25 am |
    • faith

      now, was it that hard? of course that's the case.

      May 3, 2013 at 12:43 am |
  16. Confused??

    So, let me get this straight (heh) – he was hired to speak at a church about bullying, and then they bullied him into not speaking his beliefs in "let he who is without sin"? Then the church thanks him for not bullying them by releasing the church name to the press? Why shouldn't he? Seems to me they are hypocrites and they owe him the money.

    May 2, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      Gonna need one of those John Madden X's and O's with lines to explain this situation. 🙂

      May 2, 2013 at 11:08 pm |
    • PaulB

      Some Christians might like to use little crosses and pitchforks instead. 😉

      May 3, 2013 at 12:28 am |
  17. Fearless Freep

    One by one, the walls of hatred, lies, and deception
    come tumbling down.
    Is there a God ?
    I don't have that answer.
    But whatever force we have in the universe
    does not discriminate.
    God is too big, large, expansive, understanding, and fluid.

    Your "God" doesn't sit on a throne on mount Olympus
    tossing fireballs across the universe.

    Even your own "Jesus" said that the way to god was through your heart.
    You don't need a "Church".

    So go ahead, and judge others, and kiss the foot of your pope.
    You lost the message.
    Politics and religion are like oil and water.

    May 2, 2013 at 10:59 pm |
    • Austin

      There is a fireball, more than one. Hell is one, and Apollyon is another, and God does not throw it. People walk right in.

      May 2, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
    • PaulB

      People walk right in, but God could still eliminate it, if he wished to. Separating chaff from wheat is one thing, but why torture the chaff? Isn't chaff usually just destroyed?

      May 3, 2013 at 12:36 am |
  18. Dennis


    Is it 4/20 again? You are doing nothing but spreading gibberish. You need to understand that language is important because it allows us to be able to communicate on an intellectual basis. What you are sharing sounds like a combination between word associations (psycho babble), hate-mongering, and blindly following the leader type of stuff. It seems like it's time to have your meds checked again.

    May 2, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
  19. The real Tom

    Here's a suggestion for Austin: why don't you go visit Collins and tell him he's going to hell? I'd love to see that conversation.

    May 2, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River
      May 2, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      ...starts singing "nearer my God to thee"..

      May 2, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
    • Jesus freaker

      Are Austin and Chad related?

      May 2, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • Austin

      It's not about hell. It's about freedom and that is an option. Self control is not a talent. It comes through obedience. Obedience is, the very best thing, to show that you believe.

      May 2, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
    • Observer

      Religious "obedience" comes because of threats (hell) and bribes (heaven).

      May 2, 2013 at 11:31 pm |
    • Austin

      Nothat is a pessimistic opinion. It comes from awe and grati.tude, and understanding sin. Not wanting to quench the Holy Spirit. god dwells in the temple, the body of a believer. Sinning causes grief.

      May 2, 2013 at 11:38 pm |
    • PaulB

      If you showed obedience to a dictator, would that necessarily mean that you agree with him wholeheartedly, or could you be simply trying to appease someone you recognise as crazy dangerous?

      May 3, 2013 at 12:44 am |
  20. faith

    william the schizoid Robert Brown, the whole premise that an omnipotent creature needed to "sacrifice" anything to remove "sin" is blatant, obvious nonsense, if you have the guts to look at it critically, that is. So how again could a being that can purportedly manipulate history and time lose anything within a death of a "son", when it could just snap its fingers and create another one, or roll back the event and change it? The answer is that your god clearly does not exist as claimed, and your whole religion is a complete sham and fraud without any foundation in reality."

    oh no

    May 2, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
    • faith

      hillbilly devane the mouthster

      "Rather pathetic "god" it is that you've made for yourself there. Stop the god fraud and all the evils and hate and bigotry that are part of Christianity. Demand proof. Here's to less religious idiocy and less religion in 2013"

      i'm dying big willie

      May 2, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
    • faith

      "William Vermouth
      Is that ridiculous nonesense why Rednecks think molestation dosen't make babies?? Save the spiritual puke for they altar boys, who may fall for it when the priests loosen the knots that are holding them face down on your sperm stained altars. One freed they will really need HUGE indoctrination so they don't sue your church into oblivion. Luckily for you, the boys can't get pregnant!"

      has this guy tried stand up?

      May 2, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
    • senseic

      Faith wrote: [God] needed to "sacrifice" anything to remove "sin"... I would love you to identify ANYWHERE in the Bible that it says God NEEDS _blank_. Get convicted of a felony, the court doesn't NEED you to go to jail, it DEMANDS (requires) it as punishment for the violation.

      SenseiC bows out.

      May 2, 2013 at 11:38 pm |
    • biggles

      God needed someone to feed him. Change him. Burp him. Clean him.

      May 2, 2013 at 11:46 pm |
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About this blog

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.