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Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker defends sexist, anti-LGBTQ+ commencement speech

Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker
Lucas Peltier/USA Today Sports/Reuters/File via CNN Newsource

“If it wasn’t clear that the timeless Catholic values are hated by many, it is now,” Harrison Butker said.

By Amanda Musa, CNN

(CNN) — In his first public comments following a controversial speech at a recent college commencement, Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker defended his address and emphasized his Catholic faith.

“If it wasn’t clear that the timeless Catholic values are hated by many, it is now,” Butker said during a speech at the “Courage Under Fire” gala in Nashville on Friday night.

The Nashville speech was posted to X by right-wing media outlet The Daily Wire.

This is the first time the three-time Super Bowl champion has spoken publicly about his commencement address at Benedictine College, a small Catholic college in Kansas, on May 11. During his address, Butker made comments interpreted by many as homophobic and sexist, including calling Pride Month a “deadly sin” and saying that a woman’s accomplishments in the home are more valuable than any academic or professional goals, among other things.

Friday night’s gala was hosted by Regina Caeli Academy – a hybrid campus/homeschool Catholic school group with several locations across the country. The gala boasted several other speakers including right-wing media personality and host at the Daily Wire, Matt Walsh.

“Over the past few days, my beliefs, or what people think I believe, have been the focus of countless discussions around the globe,” Butker, who is on the school’s board of directors, said.

Regina Caeli Academy did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

“At the outset, many people expressed a shocking level of hate. But as the days went on, even those who disagreed with my viewpoints shared their support for my freedom of religion,” Butker said Friday.

Butker reaffirmed his commitment to his Catholic faith, saying, “Our love for Jesus and thus our desire to speak out should never be outweighed by the longing of our fallen nature to be loved by the world.”

During his speech, Butker referred to Saint Daniel, the biblical prophet who was thrown into a lion’s den for committing to prayer to God, despite a law that condemned worshipers to death.

“I can’t help but tremble at the thought of the courage many saints have shown in their lives,” Butker said.

Daniel was spared by God due to his commitment to faith, according to the Old Testament.

“Would I be so bold if the repercussion was what Daniel faced in being fed to lions? In reality, any courage I’ve shown will lead to some small suffering. And it will lead to some people maybe never liking me, but that could be God’s will,” the Chiefs kicker said.

The NFL issued a statement earlier this month, saying Butker’s comments don’t reflect the views of the league.

Butker’s May 11 speech sparked criticism from LGBT advocacy organization GLAAD, which called his comments “a clear miss” and “woefully out of step with Americans about Pride, LGBTQ people and women.”

The sisters of Mount St. Scholastica monastery, a founding institution and sponsor of Benedictine College, also distanced themselves from Butker’s message. “The sisters of Mount St. Scholastica do not believe that Harrison Butker’s comments in his 2024 Benedictine College commencement address represent the Catholic, Benedictine, liberal arts college that our founders envisioned and in which we have been so invested,” they said in a statement. “Instead of promoting unity in our church, our nation, and the world, his comments seem to have fostered division.”

Fellow Chiefs star, Travis Kelce, recently responded to the commencement address, saying he does not agree with “just about any” of Butker’s views but values him as a teammate.

“I cherish him as a teammate. I think Pat (Mahomes) said it best where he is every bit of a great person and a great teammate,” Kelce said on the latest episode of the “New Heights” podcast he hosts with his brother, Jason.

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