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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. m123

    What church was this?
    Or do we only have this guy's word?
    Someone going to give inspirational speech for $8500 at a church leaves me completely non-plussed he lost this gig.
    Poor baby

    May 2, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • oOo

      We may never know. But it *easily* could have been any number of ones firmly on one side of the fence for the issue.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
  2. Michael

    When you don't want the public to know the name of your Church, when you scamper as quickly as possible at the first thought a light might be shined on your beliefs, then you already know your beliefs are on the wrong side of history.

    May 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
  3. Darwin

    The Holier-than-thou crowd is frustrated because they can't discriminate against and insult Blacks today, so the last group available is the gays and their supporters. These ultra-conservative Christians are descendants of the people who 1) preached in favor of SLAVERY 2) humiliated and degraded Blacks and other minorities for hundreds of years 3) opposed the right of WOMEN to VOTE 4) viciously opposed the integration of schools 5) tried to prevent – through violence and every other means – Blacks from voting, etc. etc. In other words, these are the direct descendants of everything that was hateful in this country. And now this last pitiful gasp of hate from this preacher is so-oooo pathetic. No wonder so many Americans are dropping religion!!

    May 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • Jeff

      Oh, you mean democrats.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • mb2010a

      No...he means Republicans/tea baggers...

      May 2, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
    • Darwin

      Jeff – Yes, good point that most of the haters between the end of the Civil war and the 1960s were conservative Democrats. However, now the haters are mostly conservative Republicans. And about 2 MILLION of these old, angry, dispeptic haters are DYING OFF EACH YEAR, which means any conservative candidate in 2016 is TOAST!

      May 2, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      "Stir It Up" is a song composed by Bob Marley in 1967, written for his wife Rita, and first made popular by Johnny Nash. Nash's recording hit the top 15 in both Britain and America in 1972.

      May 3, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      HS. c&p from wikipedia. Shows you could do that instead of your pointless verse references (not that they add any value)

      May 3, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
  4. goblackhawks

    Virginia vs. Loving .. actually this was about race.
    Marriage is a contract with God ... The government just wants it because of taxes... So let's make it easy .. Let's make everyone file their taxes as a single person .. No more deductions based on marriage for anyone.

    May 2, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • trollintraining

      Wow.
      I'm learning a lot about trolling from posts like yours.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      So all the innumerable non-christian cultures throughout the planet's history that have had marriage without appealing to God didn't actually have marriage?

      May 2, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • Michael

      Sorry, Bubba, but you don't get to rewrite and edit the ruling of the SCOTUS whenever it doesn't fit your own personal bias.

      Marriage is a civil right. It did NOT include a footnote about it only pertaining to race and/or opposite genders.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
    • Jonathan

      that doesn't make sense: the government does not benefit from marriage through the tax code, just the opposite in fact. Marriage has nothing to do with God. It was a rite which existed before Judaism and was co-opted by the religion.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Just because no-one is foolish enough to marry you doesn't mean everyone else should lose their rights.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • My Dog is a jealous Dog

      Chief Justice Earl Warren –

      Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival....

      May 2, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • sam

      Today's Full On Idiocy award goes to....

      May 2, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Matthew 23:29-36
      1 John 2:21-23
      Revelation 21:8
      T itus 1:10-16
      1 S amual 8:4-9
      A cts 9:10-23

      Amen.

      May 3, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
  5. pm

    Truth and Heaven Sent and Jason. I appreciate your views and your passion, but constatntly citing a Bible verse from the Old Testament proves you are easily fooled and unwilling to use your brain to think about the contrary arguement. You have chosen to believe blindly in a book that was written by politicians over 2000 years ago to keep the masses under control. Yes, the Bible is a good book that teaches morals. Does that mean the God wrote it? Does that mean we are supposed to follow these rules litterally? We are all sinners and if there is a God, he will judge, so why get worked up over what others are doing? If being gay is wrong, why did God make gays? Thought God doesn't make mistakes...Learn from Jesus and accept others. Life is too short to hate.

    May 2, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • trollintraining

      pm
      There are those of us who think they may not be 3 different people.
      We also wonder if they are sincere in their posts, or if they are trolling and intentionally making stupid arguements.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
  6. meifumado

    Churches pay fees to speakers?
    These speakers accept the cash?
    Seems like these speakers are not very good Christians if they are charging such amounts just to talk for an hour.
    If I was a religious person I would not charge to speak at a church, It would be an honor in my deluded mind just to be asked.
    Seems like an atheist (Me) has morals here and Christians do not.

    May 2, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • Ouch it hurts!

      $8500 in lost wages? That is quite a pinch, now get back to the business of making money.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • Jonathan

      This is what he does for a living. The church hired him to speak; why shouldn't they be expected to pay for those services?

      May 2, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
    • sly

      Wow ... people that don't realize companies, churches, entertainment companies etc... pay for speaking appearances?

      What happened to education in America? We breed so many ignornat people.

      Meifumado – you would be shocked to learn that we also pay sports stars to play football, baseball etc ...

      And more shocked to learn that actors make money when they make a movie.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • meifumado

      Making a point here, But it went over some heads apparently.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
  7. Packerfan

    Give the name of the Church!

    May 2, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • My Dog is a jealous Dog

      Agreed – I am from the land of beer and cheese, and I want to know so I can tell my family to avoid this church.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
  8. Honey Badger Don't Care!

    If the flood occurred in 2348BCE (Answers in Genesis) and the Exodus happened in 1444BCE (AIG) and the Israelites were in captivity for 400 years (AIG) isn’t there a problem?

    That means that in 504 years eight people went from being the only people on Earth to a population big enough to not only rule Egypt but to enslave themselves.

    Hmmmm……

    May 2, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • trollintraining

      isn't that 904 years?

      Still a lot of baby making, new religion founding, physical feature shaping ... but let's agrgee on the math.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • meifumado

      Careful, you might make their head's explode.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!

      I think that 2348-1444-400=509. At least by my math.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!

      Or (2348-(1444+400))=509

      May 2, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
    • trollintraining

      I was thinking they were still expanding and making babies even after they became enslaved.
      I can accept your thinking without changeing mine....Therefore i may be on the wrong blog.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • meifumado

      Do I smell smoke?

      May 2, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care!

      Some brains weren't made to handle facts and logic.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Genesis 22:17
      Genesis 32:12

      Amen.

      May 3, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
  9. Vince

    They don't like your opinions so they boot you? Gee...how Christian.

    May 2, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
  10. us_1776

    .
    Well then, no loss whatsoever.

    Didn't want to go to that nasty church anyways.,

    .

    May 2, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
  11. YeahRight

    looked around more.. nobody has been able to verify this football players' story..

    Not one thing he said yet has been proven to be true.

    May 2, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • chubby rain

      I'm taking his word on faith...

      May 2, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
    • sam

      We get it, you have your tin hat of paranoia on tight and you're going to get to the bottom of this. How many more goddamn times are you going to make the same post?

      May 2, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • nojinx

      You go! Don't accept anything without verifiable and peer-reviewed evidence.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
  12. Michael

    "You can safely assume you're created God out of your own images when it turns out He hales all the same people you do." – Anne Lamont

    "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." Gandhi

    May 2, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
  13. goblackhawks

    SInce when is marriage a civil right ?

    May 2, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • Michael

      Virginia vs. Loving.

      The Supreme Court ruled marriage is a fundamental civil right of mankind.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • sam

      Ugh, dumbass.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • chubby rain

      Since you go to the courthouse and not the church to make your marriage official...

      May 2, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • Al

      Marriage is a contract and we have a right to enter contracts.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • nojinx

      1967, Loving vs. Virginia calls it out officially, but it has never been another type of right.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Since without a marriage certificate issued by the government a marriage is not deemed legal. Marriage or marriage like rituals existed many many years before christardation did.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
  14. religionishateful

    no religion is a religion of love. they are all hateful and preach separation.

    May 2, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • Norm

      Aww... feeling a little left out are we?

      May 2, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • aMom

      Kind of like when a parent says to a child, "you can't play near the road", so hateful to preach separation from innocent traffic.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • CosmicC

      I'm a Unitarian Universalist. We stand on the side of love. The only separation we advocate is separation of church and state.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Matthew 23:29-36
      1 John 2:21-23
      Revelation 21:8
      T itus 1:10-16
      1 S amual 8:4-9
      A cts 9:10-23

      Amen. ++++

      May 3, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
  15. YeahRight

    I'll be watching the interview tonight.. he better be an expert at lying, because it's hard to fool me.. I think he has made this story up to get more free advertising for his new book.. we'll see.

    Time to play "spot the liar".. the stuff he is saying simply does not add up.

    May 2, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • chubby rain

      Sounds like you don't need to watch the interview. You've made up your mind already.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • nojinx

      Yes, skepticism or death! Don't believe it until it is undeniably proven, then test that proof.

      Otherwise you are liable to believe in anything, with no way to discriminate truth from fiction. You'll just end up believing what you want to be true.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • CosmicC

      If you don't want to hear it I guess it can't be true.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
  16. dtschuck

    The church is rumored to have been The Church of the Later Day Bigots.

    May 2, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
  17. after39years

    Jesus, protect me from your followers.

    May 2, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Ye are of [your] father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

      John 8:44

      Amen..

      May 3, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
  18. yo!

    It's like me paying to listen to Rush Limbaugh. I don't want to do that. So don't complain Leroy.

    May 2, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
  19. goblackhawks

    I actually work (for Free) at homeless shelters and do meals on wheels on the weekends. I also don't have children .. so then why should my taxes go to schools... It's called for the "good of the community" ... The church doesn't "force God down anyone's throat" at a homeless shelter ... Sure they read from the bible .. if you want to to listen .. no one is forcing these folks. I feel sorry for you religious bigots ..

    May 2, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • Michael

      Yeah, yeah, yeah, we've all heard it before. How dare we be bigoted against bigots. How dare we preach intolerance about intolerance. How dare we be prejudiced against prejudice.

      Please show us where ANYONE is forcing any type of religious bigotry against anyone except for, of course, religious bigots NOT being able to force their so-called morality unto others.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • sam

      When someone is intolerant about an entire group...they're going to get intolerance back. I know this is hard to understand. I know you don't like those pesky gays, but they exist. Sorry.

      You just keep on not having kids. Thanks.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      You pay taxes in general. Paying taxes for those schools is your future generation, the young minds who will change your diapers in your old age; the young minds who will treat your medical conditions; the young minds who will ensure you can continue to use the internet and drive on paved roads. When the church starts to involve itself in the public square, it needs to be taxed. Separation of church and state specifically requires that in order for the church to remain tax free they must keep it of of the public forum...the second they cross that line they risk losing their tax free status.
      So reading from the buybull is not pushing an agenda? Churches prey on the weak and you're completely ignorant if you don't see that.
      These same folks can get the same and more from secular organizations.
      I'd have less problem with the church if it stayed out of peoples lives that do not wish it and if it stopped trying to deny equal rights...keep to yourselves, respect everyone's right to live as they do providing they are not causing direct harm to anyone and respect their right to believe as they wish...no-one can ever know for sure, I just see no evidence to support the claims-if that makes me a religious bigot so be it-at least my bigotry is merited.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • CosmicC

      Ok, try this easy mental exercise: You lost your home in a tornado. You go to a shelter for the night. They feed you, give you a bed, and a change of clothes. You're about to go to sleep for the first time since the alarms went off when the Imam issues the evening call to prayers. All of the volunteers get out their prayer rugs and a few extras for their clients. You are asked if you want to join. Sure you don't have to pray, but how do you feel about it?

      May 2, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
  20. Chade

    Wow, give me break. Jesus taught tolerance and acceptance, just because Butler supports his friend?

    May 2, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • sam

      I thought being supportive of someone was what christians were aiming to do. Can't figure out why I keep seeing the opposite.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:28 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.