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. Kevin

    LeRoy Butler has brought me more comfort and solace than all the religions of the world combined.

    May 2, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • lol??

      Some think sports betting is not so hot.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • Sure

      Sports and religion are both big wastes of money.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • sly

      "Sports ... are a big waste of money".
      Absolutely. We don't need sports, or athletics. Schools are a huge waste of money also. And art – have you ever read how much a Picasso can sell for? We don't need art.

      Music either – you know how much Madonna makes? We don't need music. Art, or sports, education, and heck – medicine is costly – we don't need health care either.

      Forget books also – they cost money.

      Yep, we have some real genius's blogging here ...

      May 2, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • lol??

      Dude, kevin is the one who claimed he won the big one.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • Kevin

      Betting? The hell is wrong with you people. REAL blasphemy is betting on a sport you're an actual fan of.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
  2. JOE

    Pretty class dude.

    May 2, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
  3. edmundburkeson

    Like it or not, Christians have truth claims that have been a part of the church for 2000 years. You may use them to evaluate why he cannot speak in a church.

    May 2, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • ME II

      Care to elaborate? What truth claims and how are they used?

      May 2, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • sly

      "truth claims". When a 10-year old boy is in that confession box, get in there with him and bend him over.

      Stuff like that ... you know, religious thought.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • Father Francis

      truth claims ?

      Like Adolph Hitler ?
      Pol Pot?

      They all claimed "Truth".

      May 2, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
  4. the_dude

    This is all happening according to plan. In the final days people are supposed to reject the bible and religion. This is what is supposed to happen.

    May 2, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • WhenCowsAttack

      "the Bible is true because the Bible says that people will think it's fake"

      Circular logic

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

      Fruitcakes from xmas past ?

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

      Ah yes, the oh-so-accurate predictions of the bible! LOL!

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

      Absolutely! I guarantee that October 5, 2012 was the last day in the world.

      Guarantee. God told me. So be warned – the Earth ended last October.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • bostontola

      Millions of people have forecasted the end of days for most of the last 2000 years, just like you are now. They were all wrong, but of course you are right now.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • ME II

      ... and it's been happening for 2000 years.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • sam

      Exactly! Just like people have been saying pretty much every year for thousands of years, the end must be coming. Any moment now. Just hang in there. Maybe next year. Sure.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      How else would they keep the gullible in line.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
    • snowboarder

      the dark ages called. they want their superst itions back.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • Hammer Of The Gods

      Yeah, and some nutcase with access to the bible, and a nuke,
      are hellbent on making the apocalypse come true.
      These people scare me to death.
      Christian Republicans will be the death of this country.

      May 2, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • Luggage1974

      Funny as Christians, starting with Jesus, keep talking about the end of times. Guess what? Jesus was a crackpot. He lived in a time of extreme oppression and little education. He was convinced that the world was going to end very soon, funny as he is the "son og god" but couldn;t predict the actual rapture.

      May 3, 2013 at 8:13 am |
  5. mb2010a

    Man...and all this time I thought the Muslims were bad. Apparently the christians are even worse...

    May 2, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • lol??

      I'm more humble than you.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • the hate police

      Definition of stereotype (n)

      Bing Dictionary


      [ stérree ə tp ]

      1.oversimplified conception: an oversimplified standardized image of a person or group
      2.metal printing plate: a metal printing plate cast from a mold in another material such as papier-mâché
      3.reduce somebody to oversimplified category: to categorize individuals or groups according to an oversimplified standardized image or idea

      May 2, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
  6. lol??

    If this dude is worth that kinda money, Paul must have been too humble. Can one be too humble?

    May 2, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
  7. sly

    Unbelievable how ignorant many Americans are.

    There are actually morons blogging here that are surprised that companies and churches pay money to people to speak.

    We can this 'capitalism', and it has been with us for several hundred years. I'll bet many of you are quite surprised to learn that some Americans make over $100,000 a year. "Wow, really? Thats disgusting – no one should make that kind of money".

    May 2, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      What I think is disgusting is the enormous wage gap between CEOs and normal workers.
      In no other country in the world is the divide so huge! The average American CEO gets 54 times more money than a mid-level manager.
      God bless Reaganomics, eh?

      May 2, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • sly

      Yes, that is one of the unfortunate results of capitialism, and one of the major reasons that countries have also embraced forms of socialism. Of course, that system also has flaws.

      I guess our world is not perfect. (oh ... except for Christians – they are perfect, because they have their own God, and not surprisingly, they think their God is better than the other thousand Gods that non-Christians believe in. My ... that sounds likd of arrogant of Christians now doesn't it.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • lol??

      "........that sounds likd of arrogant of Christians now doesn't it........" Dude, I just pass along the claims. You vote your soul.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
  8. qs

    I think my favorite part of stories like this, is watching the slightly less delusional religious people talk trash about the seriously delusional religious people as if they even have differences.

    I have a hard time not sounding offensive when it comes to religion because even the seemingly sane and rational ones still believe in magic in the end, and watching them chastise other religious people for also believing in the same magic is quite comical most times.

    May 2, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
    • lol??

      Yeah, I know what you mean. Kill em all and let God sort em out.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • Dr. Tre

      The problem I have with some atheists is their smug certainty that they are right and their condescending dismissiveness towards people of faith. No one knows what happens when we die. I strongly suspect that it may be the end of conciousness and nothing more but who am I to say. Stop presuming that you know what another thinks or believes because you don't.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • sam

      @Dr Tre

      The problem I have with some religious types is their smug certainty that they are right and their condescending dismissiveness towards people without faith or who are sinners. No one knows what happens when we die. I strongly suspect that it may be the end of conciousness and nothing more but who am I to say. Stop presuming that you know what another thinks or believes because you don't.

      Nice try, tough guy.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
  9. lol??

    Why's the dude need the money?

    May 2, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • sly

      Yeah – he's black, do we pay blacks to work? Wow, I thought we still had slavery.

      In fact .... wow, black or white ... why would ANYONE want money, right?

      May 2, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • CJ

      It's not about the money. He could have done the speaking engagement–under certain conditions. He chose not to.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • lol??

      "...........why would ANYONE want money, right?............" Uncle sugar sure doesn't care what he does to money.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
  10. Rewind

    The pastor is proably gay and mad because he did come out before Jason Collins did|?|

    May 2, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • fastrack1

      No, pastor's probably not gay, but rather he drinks and cheats on his wife. Those things are acceptable. Or, he's got a thing for kids. That is only slightly less than acceptable than being gay and respecting yourself enough to stop living the lie. Whatever happended to "...judge not, lest ye be judged..." ? Why to the narrow-minded religions seem to only respect that when it comes to them?

      May 2, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
  11. Logic

    Not sure which is more surprising. He was getting $8500 FROM A CHURCH to speak or the pastor cancelling it for the tweet. I bet the pastor realized they had to pay him $8500 and thought, how can we cancel this guy and be off the hook for the money?

    May 2, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
  12. bostontola

    What immoral act did he commit?

    May 2, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • Russ

      @ bostontola: you don't have to agree with this church to understand their actions.
      replace this w/ something YOU think is immoral.

      for example, imagine a few years ago when the Michael Vick dog-fighting thing happened.
      if another NFL player came out in support of that, don't you think it'd affect his speaking engagements?

      May 2, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
    • ME II

      ... probably defined in the contract and may be specified as at church's discretion, but who knows.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
    • edmundburkeson

      He used a professional platform to further his personal and political views. If he once to do it on his own dime so be it.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • sam

      Yes, listen to Russ – whatever you think is immoral must be the truth! It's completely ok to marginalize people and treat them differently based on your beliefs.

      Why, just saying congrats to a friend who happens to be one of those IMMORAL GAYS is grounds for being judged.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • sly

      Wow ... now we have a moron who thinks that Twitter is a 'professional platform'.

      Where do all these idiots live? Does anyone graduate from high school anymore?

      May 2, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • qs

      "For example, imagine a few years ago when the Michael Vick dog-fighting thing happened. If another NFL player came out in support of that, don't you think it'd affect his speaking engagements?"

      Implying that dog fighting is equivalent to being gay and therefore those who support gay people deserve the same reaction as though they had announced they support dog fighting.

      Horrible analogy! The real difference is that while religious people may find something to be immoral...dog fighting actually is.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • Russ

      @ sam: this is clearly emotionally loaded for you. take a step back & reconsider.

      if Butler had come out in support of the Boston bombers, would anyone have an objection to this church withdrawing its offer? your objection is not to their logical consistency but to their definition of ho.mo.se.xuality as sin.

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


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

      What immoral act did the Tweeter commit? Showing compassion?

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

      @ qs: you're merely demonstrating my point.
      you disagree with the biblical definitions of morality. ok. but your doing so with your OWN moralistic appeal. to object to them making the same logical move is self-contradictory.

      yes, you think one is evil & the other is not. they – on a biblical basis – think otherwise. are you confident enough in your own thinking to have the discussion? or does the mere act of conceding their logic according to their own standards somehow threaten you? it's the latter that is preventing a real conversation of understanding here.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • Russ

      @ bostontola: I gave you two analogies that i figured were pretty incendiary, yet nonetheless make the point.
      1) choose a topic you (& your civic group) deem openly immoral (among many).
      2) imagine you've already booked a speaker for some civic function your group are having.
      3) the speaker comes out publicly in favor of that particular immoral activity
      4) would you retain him as your speaker?

      May 2, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • bostontola

      Russ, your analogy says that this church considers compassion to a human being an immoral act.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
    • sam

      Russ, honestly. Nothing you say could get me emotional. I just kind of shake my head sadly. You are one sanctimonious prick to think otherwise.

      NOW you're comparing a bombing to being gay. How on earth do you not see that willfully harming people/causing mass destruction has absolutely nothing to do with a sexual preference? Being gay hurts no one.

      Delusional thinking like this is what harms a society. You need help.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • Russ

      @ bostontola: no, you are redefining the parameters.
      the church is stating that affirming immorality is definitively NOT compassionate.
      it's unloving to call self-destructive behavior a good thing.

      May 2, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • Russ

      @ sam: at least I know you are hearing the force of the analogy – but you are overreaching on the particular topic.

      i'm also saying that adultery or idolatry or loving your family more than God or even being religious (apart from loving God) is EQUALLY destructive. it's what the Bible calls sin. Jesus said all such sin is enslaving (Jn.8:34). that includes *willingly* giving yourself over to slavery.

      but in terms of their logic (and mine, for that matter): it's a question of defining immoral. is ho.mo.se.xuality the same thing as a bombing? no. are they both immoral? yes.

      again, you don't have to agree to understand.

      May 2, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • My Dog is a jealous Dog

      He was in support of someone that "quit lying", nothing immoral about that – I would think that is quite in line with xtian principles.

      May 2, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
    • Russ

      @ jealous dog: how many times must i repeat the analogy?

      fill in the topic with one that you deem immoral. would simply "being honest" about doing an immoral activity be a good thing – especially if "being honest" meant celebrating that thing & continuing to do it?

      again, you don't have to agree to understand the church's position here.

      May 2, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
  13. Rob

    the Church should have done a better job selecting a Christian speaker instead of a speaker who creates his own morality

    May 2, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • oOo

      And their particular brand of "Christian".

      May 2, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • Richard

      Absolutely.....basing moral beliefs off a bunch of fairy tales written in a different era is far better than basing them, off your own contemporay sense of right and wrong.....well said.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • CJ

      Please specify which Christian sects advocate AGAINST tolerance.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • fastrack1

      Rob, you really believe the pastor of that church didn't create his own morality?

      May 2, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
  14. lol??

    Butlers always think they can get away with anything even when they are on the usual list of suspects. Not bright.

    May 2, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • kent

      pound sand, troll

      May 2, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • Science

      I 2nd that !

      May 2, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
  15. Ricky

    Well, that kind of mentality is making churches follow the path of the steam engine. In 500 years, only a small percentage of the population will go to church and other people will look at them in the same way we now look at people who believe in witches.

    May 2, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Ricky: lots of 'scholars' made the same sort of statements during the Enlightenment. And yet, here we are, hundreds of years later... and Christianity is still here.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • Science

      Was the bible around back then ?.......it is on the way out though Russ !

      Human Y Chromosome Much Older Than Previously Thought

      Mar. 4, 2013 — The discovery and analysis of an extremely rare African American Y chromosome pushes back the time of the most recent common ancestor for the Y chromosome lineage tree to 338,000 years ago. This time predates the age of the oldest known anatomically modern human fossils.


      No god(s) needed or required to graduate from public schools in the US

      Remember : Adam had to POKE himself hard with his OWN BONE to create Eve.

      No god(s) needed................... Old. DNA works..................also catches crooks !

      Ancient DNA Reveals Europe's Dynamic Genetic History

      Apr. 23, 2013 — Ancient DNA recovered from a series of skeletons in central Germany up to 7,500 years old has been used to reconstruct the first detailed genetic history of modern Europe.



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

      Today's Christianity has mellowed a lot since the Enlightenment, and it appears to be heading due liberal at a steady pace. The Christians who will be around in 500 years will be looking at the Christian Right the same way we now look at the witch burners, the Indulgence sellers, Inquisitors, and Crusaders. The anti-gay Christians are on the wrong side of history here. Only a complete fool refuses to see which way the wind is turning.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Ken:
      1) Christianity is on the way out? i'm assuming you mean only in the US... because in Africa, China & India (you know, the population growth centers of the world), that is far from the case.

      according to Yale scholar Lamin Sanneh, Africa has gone from 10 million Christians to 380 million in the last century. that's roughly 7-10x the population growth & about 4x the growth of Islam.

      as for China, there Christian population was also around 10 million when Mao kicked out the missionaries. now, roughly 60 years later, even the most conservative estimates are in the 100s of millions.

      2) now, take that knowledge and compare the growth areas with their theological (NOT political) leaning and what do you find? the growth areas are those who are committed to conserving the Bible's teaching.

      take for example the Anglican church. why did the Africans feel the need to leave? aside from the fact that their numbers DWARF Anglicans elsewhere, the broader Anglican church is dying – as are MOST mainline (liberal) churches. But that is *still* not the reason they left. The African Anglicans left over the liberalization of the Anglican Church – namely *this* very issue of ho.mo.se.xuality.

      it is worthy of note, however, that Jesus broke most political categories. while he was definitely a theological conservative (appealing to even a single word from the OT as authoritative), he was also definitely a social progressive. there are very few such political animals in America. MLK would be an example. So would William Wilberforce in England. They appealed to their conservative beliefs to make a progressive stand AGAINST the prevailing societal norms.

      May 2, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Ken & Science: sorry, Ken. #1 was at Science (though it also applies to your comment).

      May 2, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • Pop Gun

      1) Christianity is on the way out? i'm assuming you mean only in the US... because in Africa, China & India (you know, the population growth centers of the world), that is far from the case.
      – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
      When people get educated and grow spiritualy they no longer need the "crutch"
      of religion.
      Notice how all of the "nations" that the church is now relying on to prop itself up
      are backwards third world countries ?

      Still Phucking the natives over.

      May 2, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Pop gun:
      1) so you're a social elitist. note: it's hard to help the poor when you're so busy mocking them.
      2) talk to any recent student of economics. ask them what country holds the future of international business. you will find your premise is mistaken.

      May 2, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      You disagree, Russ? Religion makes the most headway among people who are poor, and particularly among the poor who are poorly educated.

      May 2, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
    • Russ

      @ TTTOO: hard to quantify "most" considering the broad array of 'religious' throughout the world. so let's speak directly to Christianity...

      no, i do not disagree that Christianity most often thrives among the poor... with good reason. unlike every other religion, Christianity teaches it is not what we do that saves us, but what God did FOR US. every other major religion basically has some form of this: follow these rules to earn favor/get in/etc.

      point being, when you think YOU EARN your way in, it's a matter of *your* accomplishment (literally: self-righteousness). the very nature of grace means it comes to those who do not deserve it. that's why grace comes last to those who think they don't need it. it's why Jesus said to the religious leaders (who thought their religious accomplishments would earn them favor): the tax collectors & sinners are getting in before you. why? they see their need more clearly than you do...

      in other words: the biggest barrier between us & God is our damnable 'good' works... virtually everyone admits their need when they do obviously 'bad' stuff. but it's the 'good' things, the things you do that make you think "i'm good, so i don't need God." if you use your so-called 'goodness' to push God away, but all of life is about a relationship with the one who created us, it certainly is ironic. or as Flannery O'Connor put it in Wiseblood: "there was a deep, black, wordless conviction in him that the way to avoid Jesus was to avoid sinning."

      so yes, you are right to note that grace comes first to those who are most apt to admit they actually need it. but i do find it highly ironic that so many who claim to care for the poor mock what thrives among them. AND at the same time, i point out that it's an oversimplification to claim it does not also find its way among the rich (& everything in between) as well.

      May 2, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
  16. OldSchool

    Another day, another example of the absurdity of religion...

    May 2, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
  17. miltalk

    Wow. You congratulate someone on being honest and the "church" comes down on you.

    May 2, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
  18. SkyKing169

    Somehow the church missed the message Jesus teaches.
    Fake Christianity.

    May 2, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
    • Over 40,000 sects of insanity

      What did one Christian say to the other Christian?

      Ans. "You're not a Christian"

      That's the Christian way in America.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
  19. 140 characters

    You can't capitalize the G? people pay to listen to u in a Church?

    May 2, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • McDuck Quackerton

      my god is not the one that you wanna see, your god is a mirage, a conspiracy. You are bereft of higher thought.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • ME II

      And here I was amazed at a football player, on twitter no less, using nearly complete sentences. lol, r u srios?

      May 2, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
  20. RichardSRussell

    Leroy to pastor: "Just calling to firm up a few details about my talk against bullying ..."
    Pastor: "Whoa! AGAINST bullying!?"

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

      "AGAINST bullying!?" - It's so sad the pastor doesn't even realize he was being the bully. I guess that's what happens when you work for a tyrant (mythological or otherwise).

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

      I agree with Butler here, but can we please stop calling anyone disagreeing with us in any context "bullying"? It's moronic.

      May 2, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
    • Blue42

      Stop being a bully!

      May 2, 2013 at 4:15 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.