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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. NYOD

    Religious groups who teach intolerance and hatred against their fellow man should be treated like any other hate group. Any good they may do for their community should not make their words or actions tolerable. The first amendment is supposed to protect the rights to free speech, but we all know there are limits to that in practice.

    May 3, 2013 at 6:30 am |
    • Science

      Free speech helps educate the masses

      Einstein's Gravity Theory Passes Toughest Test Yet..........splat goes a fairy in the sky !

      Apr. 25, 2013 — A strange stellar pair nearly 7,000 light-years from Earth has provided physicists with a unique cosmic laboratory for studying the nature of gravity. The extremely strong gravity of a massive neutron star in orbit with a companion white dwarf star puts competing theories of gravity to a test more stringent than any available before.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130425142250.htm

      Hey James Madison................religion has none it looks like.............with the comments on this blog.

      The Big question is ETHICS ! does religion have any ?

      The Ethics of Resurrecting Extinct Species

      Apr. 8, 2013 — At some point, scientists may be able to bring back extinct animals, and perhaps early humans, raising questions of ethics and environmental disruption.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130408165955.htm

      April 30, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |

      May 1, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |

      May 3, 2013 at 6:39 am |
    • Sane Person

      Probably because your "truth" is not true. So yes, you're a hate filled bigot. Congrats!

      May 3, 2013 at 6:39 am |
    • Mirosal

      ok "dottie", just what IS the "truth" ... go ahead, enlighten us, if you can.

      May 3, 2013 at 6:39 am |
    • Don P

      As should any pro-gay supporter who calls another a bigot. Works both ways

      May 3, 2013 at 6:43 am |
    • Science

      Einstein letter, set for auction, shows scientist challenging idea of God, being 'chosen'

      By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

      Decades before atheist scientist and author Richard Dawkins called God a "delusion," one world-renowned physicist – Albert Einstein – was weighing in on faith matters with his own strong words.

      “The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends,” Einstein wrote in German in a 1954 letter that will be auctioned on eBay later this month. "No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.”

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/category/culture-science/

      May 3, 2013 at 6:44 am |
    • NYOD

      To the ignorant bigot above: Telling the truth about qu-eers? What about the truth that what you people are doing is damaging society and robbing people of their dignity?

      May 3, 2013 at 6:52 am |
  2. NYOD

    Religious groups that teach intolerance and hatred against their fellow man should be treated like any other hate group. Any good they may do for their community should not make their words or actions tolerable. The first amendment is supposed to protect the rights to free speech, but we all know there are limits to that in practice.

    May 3, 2013 at 6:30 am |
    • Heywood

      But then you get hate like this from the liberal side. So one side is no better than the other.

      "These church freaks need to be collected up into FEMA reeducation camps."

      May 3, 2013 at 6:34 am |
    • NEng

      "Like"

      May 3, 2013 at 6:37 am |
  3. achepotle

    These church freaks need to be collected up into FEMA reeducation camps.

    May 3, 2013 at 6:28 am |
  4. Craig

    Not to worry. He'll get speaking gigs at gay organizations.

    May 3, 2013 at 6:28 am |
  5. Tom K

    I hate christians !!! I demand they include us !!!! whaaaaaaaa !!!! mommy mommy the religious guy won't pick me for kick ball. Whaaaaahaaaahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

    May 3, 2013 at 6:26 am |
    • NYOD

      I'm so glad I don't belong to any Church and I am not beholden to world view of any ignorant bigots.

      May 3, 2013 at 7:21 am |
    • derp

      LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

      May 3, 2013 at 11:37 am |
  6. Tom K

    Gotta tell you, for a religion that's attacked so much, people sure do break their necks to be included in it. It's their right !! You can't force a religion to change their views to suit you.

    May 3, 2013 at 6:24 am |
    • NYOD

      It's not a matter of being included in that group. It's simply a matter of not wanting to be wronged by the actions and words of that group.

      May 3, 2013 at 7:24 am |
  7. Jerry

    Excellent/smart decision!

    May 3, 2013 at 6:23 am |
  8. sick of christian phonies

    At least now he can do something more worthwhile with his time than talking to a bunch of brainwashed zombies...trim his nails, maybe water the flowers, catch an extra 40 minutes of sleep- the list is endless.

    May 3, 2013 at 6:21 am |
    • .

      play slap and tickle in the locker room with children, lots of sandusky options

      May 3, 2013 at 6:23 am |
    • NYOD

      '.': Where does your obsession with Sandusky come from? Were you molested by a man as a kid?

      May 3, 2013 at 7:26 am |
  9. Stosh

    The pastor and members of this "church" should be ashamed of themselves. They certainly don't deserve to call themselves "Christians".

    May 3, 2013 at 6:17 am |
    • .

      bull sh it since when is moral decency not Christian.

      May 3, 2013 at 6:20 am |
    • sick of christian phonies

      To the "." that offered the good "christian' reply of b ull sh it"- read your bible, at least the part that says "judge not, that ye be judged".

      May 3, 2013 at 6:23 am |
    • Earthling147

      Since when is it morally decent to peek into everyone's bedroom? Religion is evil.

      May 3, 2013 at 6:23 am |
    • .

      if you can't tell bull sh it from bread reading won't help you. try the wages of sin is death. ever heard of the aids epidemic you self righteous moron

      May 3, 2013 at 6:25 am |
    • NYOD

      To '.': You want to talk about moral decency? Since when are people like you able to judge others? What did your book say? Judge not, lest ye be judged. Well, in that case, you are not a Christian, just a pathetic small minded bigot. If you don't like being called a bigot, then stop talking like one.

      May 3, 2013 at 6:56 am |
  10. cj

    Freedom of speech would be worthless if standing by your convictions didnt sometimes have a price.

    It did this time and Mr. Butler paid it like a man.

    May 3, 2013 at 6:11 am |
  11. Walter

    This is unbelievable. If you don't believe everything that others believe, and then have the audacity to say so, you're splashed on the front page. Not wanting a particular person to speak at your establishment is the choice of those who run it.

    May 3, 2013 at 6:05 am |
    • Rupert

      What if they didn't want him to speak because of his skin color would that be ok too?

      May 3, 2013 at 6:10 am |
    • cj

      They have every right to not want him there...and he has every right to talk about it.

      May 3, 2013 at 6:12 am |
    • yup.

      @rupie
      Yup!

      May 3, 2013 at 6:17 am |
    • .

      if you talk for qu-eers hes got a right if you tell the truth about qu-eers you get silenced

      May 3, 2013 at 6:19 am |
    • Earthling147

      Prejudice and bigotry have no place in American society. Religion has no relevance in the modern world. Religion preaches love but teaches hate. Religion is evil.

      May 3, 2013 at 6:26 am |
    • Ollitrop2194

      Yes church has the right to deny someone to speak at their building, but I find it odd that they are relieved Butler did not release the church name. Why? Embarrassed?

      May 3, 2013 at 6:31 am |
    • NYOD

      It is not a matter only of belief, but of breach of contract. Butler's tweet cannot be used as an excuse to break the contract. Let him speak!

      May 3, 2013 at 6:33 am |
    • NYOD

      What is unbelievable is that this is 2013 and your minds are stuck in 1913.

      May 3, 2013 at 6:35 am |
  12. Matt B.

    What I find amusing about this is that they actually apologized – what, were your religious convictions strong until it became public knowledge you had religious convictions? Pure hypocrisy.

    May 3, 2013 at 5:58 am |
  13. fellow the Bible

    Did you read the Bible? come on NLT Mark 10:5-6 But Jesus responded, "He wrote those instruction only as a concession to your hard-hearted wickedness. But God's plan was seen from the beginning of creation, for He made them male and female..................... This is what God does not allow them have gay. Gay feel no humiliated. They rebel against God

    May 3, 2013 at 5:47 am |
    • Earthling147

      The only place god exists is in your imagination. Religion teaches you not to think, and never ask questions. Religion is evil.

      May 3, 2013 at 6:27 am |
  14. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    May 3, 2013 at 5:43 am |
    • Bob

      You got it backwards...telling your children lies is not healthy for them. Telling them that praying makes a difference is not healthy.

      May 3, 2013 at 5:52 am |
    • as always

      bob is wrong

      May 3, 2013 at 5:55 am |
    • nope

      @Boob
      nope

      May 3, 2013 at 5:56 am |
    • Shane

      LOL! Really?! What's your excuse when prayer does nothing?! WE created god, not the other way around.

      May 3, 2013 at 6:00 am |
    • nope

      @shame
      nope

      May 3, 2013 at 6:01 am |
    • ldavid69

      Bob is correct. Prayer is nothing more than learned helplessness. It is funny how when the prayer thing does not work, god gets a pass with phrases like... GOD HAS A REASON or IT WAS MEANT TO BE.. etc. Doer's get things done. My money is on the nastiest SOB that studies for his test over the person that prays to pass his test.

      May 3, 2013 at 6:04 am |
    • nope

      @poisonivy
      nope

      May 3, 2013 at 6:14 am |
    • ..

      well i ... it is obvious you don't know jack sh it about prayer

      May 3, 2013 at 6:16 am |
    • jmackey

      Actually – whether you believe in God or not, research tends to support that prayer does makes a difference ... look it up.

      May 3, 2013 at 6:20 am |
    • Earthling147

      Actually, if you look up the independent studies, and not the ones conducted by a nonscientific organization (known as a "church") you'll discover that praying is every bit as effective as not praying. In other words, it has no effect at all. Religion lies to support itself. Religion is evil.

      May 3, 2013 at 6:30 am |
    • Hi

      Yes people, prayer may have positive effects, but it is not because of divine intervention, it works the same way as support groups do with cancer patients or puppies in the terminally ill ward. If religion's ONLY effect was to make better people, most none-believers would not have issues with it. But to hand pick only certain quotes from the bible that espouse you personal beliefs and spew hatred to others is disgusting.

      Remember when stores were closed on Sundays, that wasn’t that long ago.

      May 3, 2013 at 6:34 am |
    • Science

      Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things ............and nope.......how many times you giong to splat before you figure it out ?

      Einstein's Gravity Theory Passes Toughest Test Yet..........splat goes a fairy in the sky !

      Apr. 25, 2013 — A strange stellar pair nearly 7,000 light-years from Earth has provided physicists with a unique cosmic laboratory for studying the nature of gravity. The extremely strong gravity of a massive neutron star in orbit with a companion white dwarf star puts competing theories of gravity to a test more stringent than any available before.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130425142250.htm

      Hey James Madison................religion has none it looks like.............with the comments on this blog.

      The Big question is ETHICS ! does religion have any ?

      The Ethics of Resurrecting Extinct Species

      Apr. 8, 2013 — At some point, scientists may be able to bring back extinct animals, and perhaps early humans, raising questions of ethics and environmental disruption.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130408165955.htm

      May 3, 2013 at 7:05 am |
    • Science

      Hey Cap't ass wipe.........and nope..........remember where it is sent !

      May 3, 2013 at 7:09 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      May 6, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • Really?

      "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things"

      That's why the data, has shown that atheists have happier and healthier lives than conservative Christians. Your post is built on a lie!

      May 6, 2013 at 9:05 am |
  15. Steve H.

    Bravo to Butler. Why must there be a huge difference between believing in God and belonging to a religion? Character over popularity? Love over hate? Equality over bigotry? The church of xenophobia strikes again and avoids showing their children different view points. Wonderful use of parental power. Falls under the headline "Another village looses its idiot".

    May 3, 2013 at 5:40 am |
    • .

      you forgot bull sh it over moral decency

      May 3, 2013 at 5:57 am |
    • NYOD

      '.': Moral decency? What would people like you know about it? I can tell from your posts that you are totally clueless.

      May 3, 2013 at 7:29 am |
  16. Mark_in_FL

    Mom beats church every time.

    May 3, 2013 at 5:40 am |
  17. Chuck Finley

    Way to stand up to that church's bullying and bigotry. We need more people like him

    May 3, 2013 at 5:39 am |
    • .

      watch the qu-eers whine whenever you challenge them free speech denying co-ck suc-kers

      May 3, 2013 at 6:21 am |
    • NYOD

      To the ignorant bigot above: Challenging gay people about who they are and how they should act and feel, just to make people like you happy? People like you should be neutered.

      May 3, 2013 at 6:38 am |
  18. worktolive

    The churches that follow the Bible do not support the gay agenda. FYI. Get over yourself.

    May 3, 2013 at 5:32 am |
    • Jen L

      You mean that book that says to be good to your neighbors, to not judge them because that is God's job not yours, that advised charity and separation of church and state?

      Oh you mean The Bible that your church tells you exists, not the ACTUAL Bible.

      Jesus was a pretty nice dude. You could learn a lot from him. Be like Jesus or don't call yourself a Christian. Jesus said to love thy neighbor, not "love thy neighbor unless a man tells you I wouldn't like him."

      May 3, 2013 at 5:48 am |
    • Sane Person

      ahahah bible. You're funny.

      May 3, 2013 at 6:23 am |
    • NYOD

      Ah yes, the gay agenda...It's the same agenda that black people and women had: To be treated equally like human beings and not be discriminated against for being different in some way than you. Better pick up your holy book and see what Jesus says about loving your fellow man. Ignorant dipsh-t

      May 3, 2013 at 6:42 am |
  19. Joe

    LeRoy, your mom is right. Good on you for standing up for what is truely correct in a modern day society. Be true to your friends and loved ones and do no harm.

    May 3, 2013 at 5:32 am |
  20. bucdale

    I'm sure everyone of you "tolerant and enlightened" people were just as passionate about your defense of Dr. Benjamin Carson when he was uninvited to give the commencement address at Johns Hopkins University. Or is it that you agreed with the students?

    May 3, 2013 at 5:28 am |
    • Mark_in_FL

      Are you implying that people that are against bigotry and prejudice are consistent? Good for you.

      May 3, 2013 at 5:42 am |
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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.