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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. Reasonably

    You just can't write this stuff.

    Dark ages mentality continues!

    May 2, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Typical nonbeliever, blaming others for his/her laziness in learning His truth.

      2 Peter 1:16-21

      May 2, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • Observer

      HeavenSent,

      – Matthew 7:12 “Treat others as you want them to treat you. THIS IS WHAT THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS ARE ALL ABOUT.”

      Ever heard of it?

      May 2, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.  KJV

      Proverbs 16:25

      Amen.

      May 2, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • Observer

      HeavenSent,

      Yep. I didn't think you had. Otherwise you wouldn't try to find excuses why it shouldn't apply to you.

      May 2, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
  2. dejahathoris

    Isn't it about time we revisit the tax exemption for churches? Why are the rest of us paying higher taxes so bullying church leaders can blat their hatred out for the world to see? I'm sick of higher taxes supporting gold-watch-wearing church evangelists who have nothing better to do than foster hate and discontent.

    May 2, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      Ready to revisit the tax exempt status of all organizations? It is easy to want to revoke and try to hurt a group or an organization that you do not agree with but until you are ready to pull the tax exempt status of all of them, from the Planned parenthood to the Girl and Boy Scouts, then you are just another voice in the hate crowd.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Mark, I agree that you need to be careful what you wish for but the charities generally exist for a specific purpose but the churches have a broader scope than any charitable work they do – they have huge real estate and investment portfolios and certainly that aspect of their business should be reviewed.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Fools spewing their lies again.

      May 2, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      >>>" they have huge real estate and investment portfolios and certainly that aspect of their business should be reviewed."

      Whose churches are you speaking of? I have been in huge Cathedrals and down to small country churches that were originally built by freed slaves. There are rich churches and there are small poor churches. I agree but in this time of money issues I feel that if you want to go over a fine tooth comb one organization then you should ready to have every business, organization and group ready to open their finacial books as well. If you do not ask for all then you are targeting, which makes some folks here no different from the churches who want to revoke Planned Parenthood's tax exempt status.

      May 2, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
  3. Oh Sh-it

    Is it good press for the State ?

    May 2, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
  4. goblackhawks

    Just ask them in England. They have had a lot of violence between Catholics and Protestants .. actually it is Ireland .. ever heard of the IRA ...
    Read a history book for all of the horrible stuff Christians have done. ... yes .. IN THE PAST ... If it weren't of the Catholic church their would be a lot of hungry people in most cities
    timothy mcveigh .. yes he was a bad dude .. but he didn't due it the name of religion .. He was angry with government ... not religion .. Ruby Ridge is why he did what he did.

    May 2, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • bostontola

      In my lifetime there was the genocide in Bosnia, what about the murder of abortion doctors.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • sam

      And here goes the typical apologist BS. You forgot to add the good old chestnut of "...those weren't REAL christians!"

      May 2, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      The IRA set off bombs in London, Manchester, Guildford, etc. ALL IN ENGLAND

      May 2, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
  5. dejahathoris

    Well, why am I not surprised that this "church" wants to keep its nasty secret so thanked him for not releasing its name. These "Christians" are self-righteous bullies. I say find out the name of the church and publicize it so the rest of us can see who the hypocrites are.

    Congrats to the player for being a stand-up kind of guy, but he should have told them to take a flying leap and released the name of the church. They do NOT deserve any such courtesy as anonymity.

    May 2, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
  6. BW

    Religion is the root of all evil. To be a devoutly religious person is to be a devoutly ignorant person.

    May 2, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      All evil? Yeah right.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
  7. Observer

    Just another group of Christian hypocrites who are clueless about the Golden Rule.

    May 2, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
  8. churches

    This church is no better than Westboro Baptists.

    May 2, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
  9. Charles Bennett

    Here's a lesson to people – mind your own business and stop pretending you have the authority to judge other people. You don't. What people do with their private lives is none of anyone's business. If it's wrong, the only person they will have to answer to is God – if you believe in God, that is. If whatever the person is doing does not affect you or your life, mind your own business. Butler made a judgment and the Church made a judgment of his judgment. Both need to leave this Collins guy to his own life.

    May 2, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Keep one's private life private? Tell this to the gay crowds then why don't you! They seem to be the ones shouting away!

      May 2, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
  10. me

    Another classy church... molesting altar boys no big deal, but give support to a fellow human being and you've gone too far. Pastor can believe there's some being floating up in the sky, but have a real human being acknowledge who he is and he's demonized, along with his supporters... and, yes, I believe in God... but not in these false idols who use God as a justification for their man-made hate...

    May 2, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
    • bostontola

      me,
      I like your perspective. All religions are man made, not just their hate. I can't prove that god is man made, but I sure believe it.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
    • me

      bostontola... I can respect your opinion, and I'm human thus I question things myself... but the bottom line for me is that I've had enough things happen in my life that I believe in a higher power, regardless of if I can explain things... (not miracles, or anything wild, but just personal stuff that makes me believe). So, my hope is that my failings will be forgiven by the designer of my happy life... and if I'm wrong about a creator, I've lost nothing by believing!

      May 2, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Proof that most folks are too lazy to seek (research) His truth.

      2 Peter 1:16-21

      May 2, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • me

      HeavenSent... well, I'm still in the Old Testament, just finished Joshua... so I really can't comment on your ignorance... not yet

      May 2, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • Science

      HS knows the facts or can not read..................so BS = HS

      May 2, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
  11. Dyslexic doG

    Chalk up another victory for the Christian Taliban!

    May 2, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
    • lol??

      The gubmint will support anybody.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
  12. Those crazy Fundies Gone Wild!

    "I was told if i removed the tweet, and apologize and ask god forgiveness, I can have the event"

    lol – wow that would have really made it into a different kind of gig, right? on the day of the event they would probably sneak in some fake tears to dab his eyes with right before his scheduled lines to be delivered asking "forgiveness" – lol.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0-04VDrCbM

    May 2, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • Robert

      Go to Hell butt wipe.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • sam

      Robert, that was so scary. You better ask god for forgiveness.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • Science

      Hey Robert..................hell is right next to Wisconsin.................. Hell MI USA !.........Geography works !

      May 2, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • Larry

      Interesting article on the similarities between this kind of religious service and stage hypnosis. Perhaps that explains it?

      http://howtohypnotise.hubpages.com/hub/StageHypnosis-vs-StageEvangelism

      May 2, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • Larry

      Oops, that one doesn't work anymore. Try

      http://www.csicop.org/si/show/benny_hinn_healer_or_hypnotist/

      May 2, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
  13. WMesser58

    Why is anyone surprised Religion is the most intolerant place on the planet why do you see morons killing folks in the "Name of god" or Allah.

    May 2, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
  14. mnahra

    Sounds like a win – win to me. He does not have to speak at a church who disagrees with his beliefs and the church does not have to support a position it finds morally objectionable. This is the way all things should work.

    May 2, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • snowboarder

      you would think, yet the church was grateful for their hidden ident ity.

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

      If the church was firm in its beliefs...there should be no problem in going public.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
    • lol??

      WWPD?

      Paul

      May 2, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
    • Ken

      Yes, it's almost as if they're ashamed of something, isn't it?

      May 2, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
  15. rich

    I think he should have given the name of the church, and let them defend their actions.

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

      He sure has no problems giving out the name of his new book!

      May 2, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
  16. goblackhawks

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

    Really ??!?? When is the last time Christians blew up a building, or stoned someone to death ... you need to get a swift kick in the head ...

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

      Just ask them in England. They have had a lot of violence between Catholics and Protestants.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • bostontola

      Genocide in Bosnia less than 20 years ago?

      May 2, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      Timothy McVeigh
      Ted Kazinski

      May 2, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • mike

      Read a history book for all of the horrible stuff Christians have done.

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

      timothy mcveigh

      May 2, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Forget about the violence, enough of that can be pinned on christianity. Let's just go with the fact that christians try to impose their belief in the private lives of everyone every day, that in and of itself is dangerous! Keep your ignorant bigoted views in your home and the church...those beliefs have no place in the public forum of the Secular country you reside in.

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

      A Christian shot a doctor he disagreed with a few years ago, and entire organizations have been using that and other bombings and murders to intimidate other doctors here in the US.

      Pretty sure it was Christians who chains up and dragged a man to death for being different.

      Stoning? No, but equally barbaric. Fundamentalists are fundamentalists are fundamentalists.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
    • Oscar

      Christians haven't done so, LATELY... Back in the day they were busy stoning and killing people if they didn't convert to Christianity.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
    • Larry

      Christianity has a long history of persecuting and even killing fellow Christians who happened to disagree with them. They called the "heretics" first, of course.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
    • lol??

      Whatdaya expect when the gubmint takes over control of churches?

      May 2, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Nonbelievers blinded by the lies of satan is the reason you are in bondage Ti tus 1:10-16, 1 S amual 8:4-9, A cts 9:10-23.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • GEE

      @goblackhawks, really do I need to name a few events in the history of the United States where Christians have blown up places in the name of God..!!! 1963 Bombing of The 4 Little girls in the church in a Birmingham Church.. Trust me there are more events that I can name, but this will trun into more of a history lesson than a current event..

      May 2, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
  17. bostontola

    Can someone please tell me the immoral act by Mr. Butler? He showed compassion for a fellow sportsman, is that immoral?

    May 2, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • qs

      That's easy, since all religions are the same in this regard – the immoral act he committed was to simply not believe exactly as that particular religion believes, which to religions is always just enough of a reason to declare somebody immoral.

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

      tolerance and acceptance of those different than oneself is apparently immoral.

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

      The church was paying Mr. Butler. If the church doesn't hold the same religious beliefs as Mr. Butler, then they should cancel the contract and not pay him to come. Companies do that all the time with endorsements of sports figures.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • ME II

      @bostontola,
      He probably meant the "morals clause".

      " A moral clause within contracts used as a means of holding the individual or Party(s) to a certain behavioral standard so as not to bring disrepute, contempt or scandal to other individual or party to the contract and their interests"
      (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morals_clause)

      It's not about morality, but reputation.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • bostontola

      ME II,
      I'm not a lawyer, but this guy tweets all the time so tweeting isn't behavior thats not ok. It has to be the content of the tweet. All he did was show compassion. This guy won't sue, but I bet he'd win if he did.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
    • ME II

      @bostontola,
      I just saying that the church was probably going to say that his tweet would have brought "disrepute" to the church, because it could be viewed as supporting ho.mos.exuality, something the church opposes.. In other words, they can't break a contract because he did something "immoral", but because he violated a clause in the contract, i.e. the "morals clause".

      May 2, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      ME II, further, it may not have anything to do with the support he offered as much as drawing the church into the controversy. Not everyone wants or needs to weigh in on h0 m0 s3xuality. There do you find that disingenuous?

      May 2, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • sam

      Bill, whether they like it or not, the church clearly weighed in.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      point taken

      May 2, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • ME II

      @Bill Deacon
      "There do you find that disingenuous?"
      Not disingenuous, no. Why?
      I doubt that the church was 'only' concerned about being drawn into the controversy, but I really don't know what they were thinking nor what the contract said.
      My only point here was that I don't think you can break a contract because of immorality, only clauses within the contract.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
  18. Dyslexic doG

    Humanists behave more like Jesus than Christians do.

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

      The irony is that the Christian Right acts exactly like the Pharisees who accused Jesus of not being conservative enough.

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

      That is my point I was making early in the day ,but it went over a few peoples heads.

      I stated that if I was a religious person I would not ask to be paid to speak at a church as in my religiously deluded mind I would consider it an honor just to be asked.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
  19. Shakingmyhead

    As a church-going Christian, I am really appalled at that church and it's people!!!! Not really reading their Bible, I guess or bad teaching. I would love to see this gentleman speak at our church! He showed love and loyalty and compassion to another human being. Jesus would never had shunned Mr. Collins nor Mr. Butler from his presence so neither should we. Shame on that congregation. It is God's task to judge, not ours. We are all forgiven and forgiven MUCH! So dont go thinking your list of sins is any less than another's. My stepson announced he was gay last year, he is always welcomed in my home and surrounded by love!

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

      Jesus would not have paid him $8,500 to speak either.

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

      Sounds reasonable....but you must understand that beyond the way religion treats gay people, there's still the underlying problem with religion as a whole: it convinces people they'll be judged for their life upon death which many of us don't believe to begin with.

      My point is that while you sound reasonable in your appreciation of diversity, you then still force yourself to fit eveybody into one tiny little box that tells you we're all on the same page as you when it comes to "god".

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

      Shakingmyhead.................you could have been on the menu...................Evolution wins hands down time for god(s) to get t

      he hell out of the way !

      Fish Was On the Menu for Early Flying Dinosaur Bye Bye doogie !

      Apr. 22, 2013 — University of Alberta-led research reveals that Microraptor, a small flying dinosaur was a complete hunter, able to swoop down and pickup fish as well as its previously known prey of birds and tree dwelling mammals.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130422154925.htm

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

      Dave
      If the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) is any indication Jesus would have probably approved. The church likely expected to double their investment of $8500 through collections after the talk, right?

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

      @ shakingmyhead!!! I am glad for you accepting your son,because some don't accepting their child until after they commit suicide that's when that child feel the love from their families. People don't study or reseach what they read in the Bible, they only read and preach at people.... I am a firm believer in God and yes I attend church, but Hosea 4:6 say's "my people suffer for the lack of knowledge"!!!!

      May 2, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
  20. Madtown

    As a Packer fan and Wisconsin resident, this embarrasses me. Good for LeRoy for standing up in support of his fellow citizen. I guess I have to say good for the church also, for their reaction helps us see their true colors and further points out how religion corrupts and divides people.

    May 2, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • lol??

      Goes to show ya that even a Packer doesn't have the ultimate clout.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:35 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.