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. Adam Vant

    I like the headline on the CNN front page: "Support for Collins costs ex-Packer." Good one!

    May 2, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • biggles

      Lombardi's brother was gay

      May 2, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • ..

      Jesus's brother James was gay.

      May 2, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
  2. chris

    I see nothing wrong with what the church did. They upheld their values and that has to be respected. If gay rights are about forcing a position on others then gays are no less bigots than those they say who are.

    May 2, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      LeRoy Butler acted more like Jesus than the church's Christians did.

      May 2, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • Observer

      If they cared about their values, they'd be picking on all the Christian adulterers who are members or all the Christians who have tattoos, for instance.

      It's just pick-and-choose hypocrisy.

      May 2, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • joe

      who forced a position here? aren't we just hearing reaction?

      May 2, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION", but "GOD" is an element of mythology, therefore your assertions are unfounded. In addition, "ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION", (using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module [IEE]), your English is "fucked".

      May 2, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Hat, you're the one deceived and spew the fairytale (FABLES) of T itus 1:10-16

      May 2, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
    • sam

      When your 'values' marginalize a group of people, they're crappy values.

      May 2, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • Pop Gun

      So, the "church" can force an opinion, but
      a gay supporter cannot ?
      The double standard boggles me.

      May 2, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
  3. ChuckATL

    I can't believe the vitrol from people on both sides of this issue. On one side you have in this case a Church that cancelled an unrelated event becuase of the support a player made about someone having an extreme amount of guts to do what he did, say he is gay in a professional sport. Let's not forget that in the past within professional sports, athletes who we would not consider to be right wing or christian would reject someone like Collins becuase of their own prejudice.

    Then we have others who classify all Christians and Churches as biggots, which most and major majority are not. In fact most Christians even devout get it. Morally there are some who may have conflicts between the beliefs they were taught, but the fundamental teachings like "Judge Not, lest thou be Judged" win. In other words, most people don't care or have steadily learned that Gays have rights and exist not becuase of choice but genetics.

    The ironic part is how those of you on these boards want tolerance for one group and then immediately cast dispersions and prejudices against those you dislike to make your point. Churches and religions don't kill people, start wars or any of that dribble. People who seize churches, movements like socialism and communism etc... kill, oppress and start wars by using and seizing groups and movements and those who blindly follow and do not question to execute their own plans. It is not religion or political movements but power hungry people that do these things. Ignorance to that is amazing and is symbolmatic even in forums such as this.

    If you would stop hating those who were different or following those who tell you that you must, you don't have a problem. But as long as you have a small group in power stoking the flames of bigotry and counter bigotry all you get is two groups of idiots who truly don't get it and never will.

    It's just a shame that a few idiots who are endowed with the power influence are compulsed to use that power as means to foward their own bigotry and make things they dislike negative. At there heart most religions and simple issues like giving gays the right to exist, marry, adopt and give homes to millions of unwanted and otherwise unadopted children are corrupted, contaminated and attacked by the a vocal minority of extreme followers on either side that simply cannot think for themselves. Idiots like this put the vast majority of the population in the middle, like me who simply don't care who you worship or marry or have rational personal concerns or conflicts that they understand they need to reconcile are heaped into a pile with idiot fanatics, which don't the messages they preach or claim to represent. You can't be tolerant, if your intolerant, like many hear absolutely are. If you accept one thing then lambast someone else your simply a indiot.

    May 2, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Religious beliefs are "ideas". Attacking beliefs is not bigotry as long as the concepts are addressed as the issue and not the believers themselves, I do aggree that line is a thin one and does get crossed. If someone has the personal belief that gay marriage is wrong (or anything else for that matter) but they do not want their religious belief legislated for or against, I have no issue.

      May 2, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • sam


      May 2, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
  4. timd

    Q: How do you get a nun pregnant?

    A: Dress her up like an altar boy.

    May 2, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
  5. 140 Characters

    The capital 'M' is more powerful than the capital 'G', isn't it?, wink wink nudge nudge.

    May 2, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • @question

      @leap36-why did that need three tweets?

      May 2, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
  6. curious

    If the church believed it was doing the right thing, it would be proud of itself. If it were proud of itself it would want its name known. So. It does not want its name known, so it must not be too proud of itself, so at some level it understands it has not done the right thing. What motivates some participants of organized religion to do the exact opposite of what their belief system instructs them to do?

    May 2, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      A: Absurd indoctrination.

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

      >>>"If the church believed it was doing the right thing, it would be proud of itself. If it were proud of itself it would want its name known. So. It does not want its name known, so it must not be too proud of itself, "

      EXACTLY !!! .... Great point.

      May 2, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • Rachel

      The church simply wants to avoid the masses that would come down on them, by those who support gay behavior. They did and said exactly what they needed to do and say.

      It was a good move and millions support it.

      May 2, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • lol??

      jumpin' to conclusions. their attorney probably heard from the insurance corp to keep it quiet. don't want any mob riots in the streets.

      May 2, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
  7. If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

    Ah .. the old, "Do as we claim not as we do (behind closed doors)" morality clause!

    May 2, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
  8. timd

    Q: In the priesthood, how do you separate the men from the boys?
    A: With a crobar.

    May 2, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
  9. If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

    OH NOOOO! Not a costly church appearance!! How will he ever get over that?!

    May 2, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
  10. joe in ca

    and teh church really thinks no one is going to find out their name???? just goes to show you how stupid organized religion is.

    May 2, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • lol??

      Cut to the chase. Blame the organizer for not getting a permit.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
  11. cf

    How exactly does expressing support and congratulations to fellow human being violate a "morality clause"? Church's priorities are back-asswards.

    May 2, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • lol??

      Run for office and quit complaining. You too can be an elder. Expect a little opposition.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
  12. lol??

    The corp special sons of the beast require the dudes to walk around naked in the locker rooms in front of female reporters. That ain't right.

    May 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Delusional idiocy.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
  13. J N M

    I respect the right to be gay, so please respect my right to be disgusted at the thought of two men having gay relations.

    May 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • sam

      Then don't think about it. It's pretty easy. Live your life and let other people live theirs.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      I bet the thought of two women wouldn't bother you though!

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

      The equivalent of a back-handed compliment – tell me you respect my "disgusting" self and demand I respect you for being so "respectful"! I have no respect for people who use this type of irrational thinking to justify their prejudice.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • James PDX

      I do. I just don't support your right to act like an a hole because someone is gay.

      May 2, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • DB Cooper

      Fine, as long as you respect my right to be disgusted by your bigotry.

      May 2, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • ME II

      @J N M,
      Fair enough. Feel free to not think as much as you want. I'm guessing your life won't change much anyway.

      May 2, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
  14. nolambo

    .. charging a church $8000 or $8 to hear you speak?? you should be burned and throw into a well, moron.

    May 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • cf

      He has the right to set a speaking fee for his services. The church agreed to it when they hired him for the gig.
      Do you think everyone should be expected to work for free just because it's for a church? If the church has leaky pipes, the plumber should be expected to fix them and not get paid?

      May 2, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Just goes to show what a cash-cow running a church really is.

      May 2, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
  15. 140 Characters

    The loss of $$ hurts! If not for the cha-ching, I wouldn't be complaining.

    May 2, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
  16. cf

    Tax the churches.

    May 2, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      Is that the same as taxing Planned Parenthood? Taxing elder care? Or are we just to single out the churches?

      May 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Mark: Planned Parenthood and elder care are needed things is society, the churches are not. Furthermore, the churches are under the obligation of the constitution of remain out of the public forum or risk losing their tax exempt status. Very different issues over all.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • sam

      Planned Parenthood doesn't go door to door asking you what your relationship is with prophylactics, do they, Mark? Have they been turning people away from their doors for having any particular religious beliefs, or gender identity? No? Have they been attempting to marginalize whole groups by considering them sinners?

      Hmm. One of these days you're actually going to make sense, because even a broken clock is right twice a day.

      May 2, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • Science

      Mfmr..............stfu.............the property shou;ld be taxed ...........they enter into politcs all the time !

      May 2, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      >>>"Mark: Planned Parenthood and elder care are needed things is society, the churches are not."

      We have churches that help in the community even in times of tragedy such as Katrina and Sandy ... the churches were on the ground before FEMA could even get out of Washington. So, because you have not benifted from these organizations does not mean that they are not part of society and the community.

      Also for the record, there are LGBT churches that have done amazing work in the community such as the fight against AIDS and helping to get kids who were thrown out of their homes because they were Gay or Lesbian find shelter. Do you want to target these LGBT churches as well?

      May 2, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Planned Parenthood is a blight on society. Churches are the pillars of western civilization. See how that works truth?

      But that isn't the reason churches aren't taxed. The reason is that Churches are considered autonomous dominions. You might as well say we should tax the Russian embassy or the Chinese consulate.

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

      By the way Mark there is no fairy in the sky so they do not have a leg to stand on !

      May 2, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
    • Science

      Get BENT BILL

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

      Deacon .. churches are businesses not a government and as such need to be taxed.

      May 2, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Mark: I give the churches their due but those same things are done through secular charities. The Red Cross is at every disaster I do not think that what they do equates to elder care-a basic human right or to planned parenthood-educating and offering support in regards to ones sexual health (I get the fact that christians tend to hate them due to the support for abortion but that is one more thing the church needs to stay out of).

      May 2, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • ME II

      @Bill Deacon,
      Churches are the chains of western civilization, perhaps.

      "autonomous dominions" ? I'm not familiar with that, Is that a British thing?

      May 2, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      From that bastion of religious intolerance, the NY Times:

      As Justice Elena Kagan recently explained, religious groups provide a “critical buffer” against the power of government, and religious autonomy “has often served as a shield against oppressive civil laws.”

      For centuries, we have protected that autonomy by granting religious exemptions. These exemptions range from those like tax exemption under 501(c)(3) — which provides religious nonprofit groups with the same tax status available to secular nonprofits like Harvard University — to those that give special treatment to religion, such as the “ministerial exception” which exempts religious groups from some nondiscrimination laws when picking their ministers.

      Both types protect religious liberty by providing room for religious instiitutions to thrive with minimal government encroachment and burden. That is why federal, state and local governments have virtually always exempted churches from taxation. It is also why the Supreme Court unanimously said a religious exemption was required in the Hosanna-Tabor case. And it is why Senator Ted Kennedy co-sponsored and President Bill Clinton signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, making religious exemptions the norm under federal law.

      Simply put, religious exemptions preserve religious freedom, which benefits us all.

      People who want to tax churches are essentially arguing for the removal of that significant buffer between the populace and potentially tyrannical governments, just as people who argue for repeal of the second amendment are trying to remove the teeth from that same populace.

      Hence, Americans will always cling to their Bibles and their guns.

      May 2, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      >>>"Planned Parenthood is a blight on society. Churches are the pillars of western civilization. See how that works truth?"

      Well, even as a Pro-Life Christian I do accept that Planned Parenthood has done great things in the community when dealing with women's health. So I can not say it is a total blight.

      >>>"By the way Mark there is no fairy in the sky so they do not have a leg to stand on"

      Well, if you are speaking of God or Gods it will always come down to you showing me proof of your claim. As soon as you back it up I will switch to your Faith. 🙂

      >>>"Mark: I give the churches their due but those same things are done through secular charities."

      Exactly, and the great thing is that there are those of Faith who work in those charities as well. Being a secular organization does not mean that you have to leave your Faith at the door or that its membership is full of Atheist.

      My view is that if we take Planned Parenthood, I can dislike and hate their pro abortion stance but I can champion its Women's Heath stance. So if they wanted help passing out pamphlets dealing with breast cancers I would be happy to help. So Can we get a few Atheist to say that they might not believe in God but they can respect when a church has a food drive for the community and come in and help as well?

      May 2, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      ME II. You and truth have your perspective, I have mine. That is why you can't exempt one group without exempting the other and why you can't tax one without taxing the other.

      May 2, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • Science

      Bill ........again thanks for the help !

      May 2, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Bill Deacon,

      "Hence, Americans will always cling to their Bibles and their guns."

      I'm glad you recognize that the roots of the second amendment are in fact religious – and stem from the wars of the reformation.

      The second amendment has nothing to do with self-protection.

      May 2, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • sam

      So ironic for Bill to be talking about a blight on society.

      May 2, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • ME II

      @Bill Deacon,
      Interesting article excerpt, thanks.

      May 2, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
  17. timd

    A priest, a pedophile, and a rapist walk into a bar...and that was just the first guy.

    May 2, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
  18. cf

    The next time any of you Christians ask, THIS is why the rest of us always call you bigots.

    May 2, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • lol??

      Why do you call Christians bigots? Can't read?

      May 2, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      So when I as a African American say to a White person, who I do not know and call them a bigot... in the way and fashion of Louis Farakhan.... can I point to a klan member and say ..."THIS is why the rest of us always call you bigots."

      May 2, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
  19. Herewe Goagain

    Too bad, so sad. See you on the funny page.

    May 2, 2013 at 4:46 pm |

  20. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

    (James Madison, chief architect of the U.S. Constitution & framer of the first ten Amendments – from A Memorial and Remonstrance as delivered to the Virginia General Assembly in 1785.)

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

      Evening again James

      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.


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

      May 1, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |

      May 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Backwards belongs to the nonbelievers who refused to read and comprehend Matthew 23:1-39

      May 2, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • Science

      Thanks for the help HS !

      May 2, 2013 at 5:22 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.