Butker breaks silence on speech controversy: ‘Never be afraid to speak the truth’ 

National News

By Tom Ozime
Contributing Writer 

Harrison Butker has broken his silence on the backlash from his recent speech at a Catholic college in Kansas that encouraged women to become mothers and homemakers, telling an audience on Friday at an event in Tennessee that despite facing a “shocking level of hate” for his remarks, he remains unapologetic in defense of traditional values. 

The Kansas City Chiefs kicker said during a Friday gala in Nashville, Tennessee, that he stands by his conservative convictions and has zero regrets for his May 11 remarks as a guest speaker at a college in Atchison, Kansas, when he criticized transgenderism and warned women against falling for “diabolical lies” that the only path to a fulfilling life is pursuit of a career rather than becoming mothers and raising children. 

After taking the stage at Friday’s gala, whose theme was “Courage Under Fire,” Butker said that the fallout from his speech proves that traditional values are under assault in modern-day America. 

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

He said he’s aware of having become a “more polarizing” figure the more he’s spoken out in defense of traditional values, adding that he looks to his Christian faith to give him the courage to face whatever backlash comes his way. 

“If I constantly remind myself of the hardships the saints went through, especially the martyrs in their persecution, it makes it all seem not so bad,” he said. “For if heaven is our goal, we should embrace our cross, however large or small it may be.” 

“Never be afraid to speak out for truth, even when it goes against the loudest voices,” he said. “In the end, being courageous starts with the small things. Being disliked and mischaracterized by some is nothing compared to finding yourself in a lion’s den.” 

The Speech 

The controversy stemmed from a 20-minute commencement speech Butker gave at the Benedictine College on May 11, which sparked sharp criticism in some circles, including accusations of homophobia, transphobia and misogyny. 

In the speech, Butker criticized “dangerous gender ideologies” and referenced “a deadly sin sort of pride that has a month dedicated to it,” referring to “Pride Month” that is celebrated by the LGBT community. 

Butker also encouraged the men in the audience to be “unapologetic” in their masculinity and fight against the “cultural emasculation of men.” 

In another part of the speech that triggered pushback, Butker made a case for the traditional female role of a child-rearing homemaker, saying that women have been told “the most diabolical lies” about pursuing high-powered careers. 

He said women were likely “most excited” about the possibility of getting married and having children rather than dedicating their lives to the pursuit of professional goals, while praising his own wife, Isabelle, for choosing her “vocation” as a homemaker over her career. 

The Kansas City Chiefs have declined to comment on Butker’s speech but the National Football League distanced itself from his remarks. 

“Harrison Butker gave a speech in his personal capacity,” Jonathan Beane, NFL senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer, said in a statement released on May 16. 

“His views are not those of the NFL as an organization. The NFL is steadfast in our commitment to inclusion, which only makes our league stronger,” he added. 

In another part of his speech, Butker criticized President Joe Biden’s stance on abortion. 

“Our own nation is led by a man who publicly and proudly proclaims his Catholic faith but at the same time is delusional enough to make the sign of the cross during a pro-abortion rally,” he said. “He has been so vocal in his support for the murder of innocent babies that I’m sure to many people it appears that you can be both Catholic and pro-choice.” 

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked on May 16 to comment on Butker’s criticism of the president on the abortion issue. 

“The president is not going to back away from supporting women and reproductive rights, reproductive health care,” she said. 

“I can’t speak to those direct comments, but what I can speak to is what the president has committed to, and he has shown that over and over again and you have a vice president that has toured the country talking exactly about that, about how we have to protect our freedoms and freedoms of …  reproductive health.” 

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce said Friday that he “cherishes” Butker, his teammate, while distancing himself from his views, adding that he’s only seen Butker treat people with “nothing but respect and kindness.” 

Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback, also defended Butker, saying he doesn’t “necessarily agree with” some of his remarks but insisting he’s someone who cares about the people around him and who “wants to make a good impact in society.” 

The Chiefs have won the Super Bowl twice with Butker, who made 94.3% of his field goals last season. He has made 89.1% of his field goals in his seven-year NFL career. 

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