Discount mulberry brynmore Outlet Beloved Packer LeRoy Butler lands amid ugliness of culture wars
LeRoy Butler took a lot of hits in the NFL, but the former Green Bay Packers player is learning to absorb blows of a whole new kind right now.
Butler, who is scheduled to speak in Madison later this month, has become an unlikely lightning rod in the culture wars after tweeting congratulations in late April to Jason Collins, the first active NBA player to come out as gay.
Almost immediately, Butler sent out another tweet announcing a Wisconsin church had just dropped an anti bullying speech he was scheduled to give there.
That part of the story Butler getting dumped by a church for his support of gays went national. Butler soon found himself pursued by every major news outlet in the country. The visibility turned him into a punching bag for those opposed to homosexuality.
“I’m getting gay bashed and I’m not even gay,” Butler, 44, said in an interview. “I didn’t know that so many people hated gay people. I knew they didn’t approve of the lifestyle, but to hate them?”
Butler said he’s still getting 10 to 15 hate filled messages a day. “The f word, the n word, you name it, and all I did was congratulate a young man for coming out,” Butler said.
That’s why Butler said his June 30 talk at St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church in Madison means so much to him. It will be his first appearance at a church since the controversy broke April 30.
“It’s big, really big, because a lot of people said no church would ever have me again,” Butler said.
St. Dunstan’s extended the invitation to Butler soon after the other church dumped him. Butler still declines to name the other church, saying only that it is not in Madison.
“I didn’t want them to be subjected to what I’m going through to lose members, to have their church vandalized,” he said. “I wanted the pastor to understand that I’m bigger than that.”
Butler, who said he doesn’t regret his support of Collins, seems a little dazed by what’s happened to him, referring to himself as “just a naive football player.” While he’s not unaccustomed to the spotlight he invented the “Lambeau Leap” touchdown celebration and was selected four times for the Pro Bowl this is different, he said.
“Look what I’m going through as a straight guy,” he said. “No wonder a 16 year old kid doesn’t come out.”
Butler said the pastor of the church that dumped him told him he could still appear at the church if he removed the congratulatory tweet to Collins, apologized and asked God for forgiveness. “It made me feel like religious people are the police of the world,” said Butler, who didn’t appreciate the offer and declined.
Raised Baptist, Butler said he now attends a nondenominational Christian church in Racine, where his girlfriend’s family lives. He takes a libertarian approach to sexual orientation.
“I don’t want to tell anyone how to live his or her life,” he said.
The Rev. Miranda Hassett, pastor of St. Dunstan’s, said she became irritated after reading the initial news reports about what was happening to Butler. “It seemed like yet another story that confirmed the view of Christians as intolerant,” she said. “I thought, ‘Gee thanks, unnamed church.'”
Where: St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church, 6205 University Ave., Madison. Attendees are asked to park in the lot at Asbury United Methodist Church, 6101 University Ave.
Other: The speech is free and open to everyone, though seating is limited to 200 people. The primary audience is intended to be youth from local faith communities. Groups are encouraged to email an anticipated head count to the Rev. The celebration is open to everyone, with no need to RSVP.