". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


NFL Kicker’s Pro-Family Commencement Speech Sparks Left-Wing Backlash

May 16, 2024

Some sports stars make headlines for drug abuse or acts of violence, but one football player is taking heat for publicly promoting Christian values. On Saturday, Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker delivered the commencement at the Catholic Benedictine College, encouraging young graduates to stand firm in their faith and live out authentic Christian virtues.

Now, the National Football League (NFL) is playing defense and condemning Butker’s speech as offensive. The NFL’s senior vice president and top diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) officer Jonathan Beane told media, “Harrison Butker gave a speech in his personal capacity. 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.” Others on the Left have been quick to blast Butker, especially for referring to homosexual acts and gender ideology as “deadly sins” and for encouraging women to be mothers and men to be fathers.

A devout Catholic and father of two, Butker acknowledged in his commencement speech that much of what he would say may be unpopular. “These are the sorts of things we are told in polite society to not bring up. You know, the difficult and unpleasant things,” the Chiefs kicker said. “But if we are going to be men and women for this time in history we need to stop pretending that the ‘Church of nice’ is a winning proposition. We must always speak and act in charity but never mistake charity for cowardice.” He explained that he “never envisioned” having the degree of public attention that he does, but added that “God has given it to me so I have no other choice but to embrace it and preach more hard truths…”

Butker called on Benedictine College’s Catholic graduates to live out their “counter-cultural” Christian faith. He stated, “The world around us says that we should keep our beliefs to ourselves whenever they go against the tyranny of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We fear speaking truth because now unfortunately truth is in the minority.” He derided “abortion, IVF, surrogacy, euthanasia as well as a growing support for degenerate cultural values and media,” which he said “all stem from the pervasiveness of disorder.” Referring to President Joe Biden, a self-declared Catholic, Butker continued:

“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 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. He is not alone. From the man behind the COVID lockdowns to the people pushing dangerous gender ideologies onto the youth of America, they all have a glaring thing in common: They are Catholic. This is an important reminder that being Catholic alone doesn’t cut it.”

The Chiefs kicker also noted the devastation wreaked by the response to COVID-19, blasting religious leaders for caving to excessive lockdown mandates, and declared that LGBT Pride Month is a celebration of “deadly sin.”

“But make no mistake, before we even attempt to fix any of the issues plaguing society we must first get our own house in order,” he continued, calling on Christian leaders — especially Catholic priests and bishops — to boldly uphold biblical doctrines. Butker told the Benedictine College graduating class, “We must be intentional with our focus on our state in life and our own vocation, and for most of us, that’s as married men and women.”

“Ladies and gentlemen of the class of 2024, you are sitting at the edge of the rest of your lives,” Butker proclaimed. “Each of you has the potential to leave a legacy that transcends yourselves and this era of human existence. In the small ways by living out your vocation, you will ensure that God’s Church continues and the world is enlightened by your example.” He encouraged women to embrace their roles as mothers and men to embrace their roles as fathers.

Addressing female graduates, Butker said, “I think it is you, the women, who have had the most diabolical lies told to you, how many of you are sitting here now about to cross the stage, and are thinking about all the promotions and titles you’re going to get in your career.” He continued, “Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world. But I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world.”

“To the gentleman here today, part of what plagues our society is this lie that has been told to you that men are not necessary in the home or in our communities,” Butker stated. “As men, we set the tone of the culture. And when that is absent, disorder, dysfunction, and chaos set in. This absence of men in the home is what plays a large role in the violence we see all around the nation.” He encouraged male graduates, “Be unapologetic in your masculinity. Fight against the cultural emasculation of men. Do hard things. Never settle for what is easy.”

“I believe that this audience and this venue is the best place to speak openly and honestly, about who we are and where we all want to go, which is Heaven,” Butker concluded. “Make no mistake, you’re entering into mission territory in a post-God world. But you were made for this and with God by your side and a constant striving for virtue within your vocation, you too can be a saint. Christ is King to the heights.”

Commenting on the backlash against Butker’s speech, author and publisher at The American Spectator Melissa Mackenzie told The Washington Stand, “Butker kicked a hornet’s nest by denouncing the crass emptiness of a world where people are motivated by selfish desire instead of sacrificial love. So many people lead empty, self-seeking lives, whether it’s trading values for power or trading values for transient sexual pleasure.” She added, “Butker calls these sinners to account and asks them, instead, to return to the truth where peace, fulfillment and salvation lie.”

Mackenzie also stated, “That Butker sees these timeless truths at such a young age and is willing to use his celebrity to express his views is both courageous and necessary. Most people recognize the veracity of his point of view which is why they react so violently to it. Me thinks they doth protest too much.”

Family Research Council’s Meg Kilgannon told TWS she was glad she was asked to comment on the speech, “because it forced me to read it in full.” What she discovered was a “wonderful” and courageous address. 

“As a parent of college age students, I would have been delighted to hear such a speech,” she insisted. “As a student many years ago, I hope I would have been grateful to hear it, and I think I would have. The critical commentary about his remarks is simply ridiculous. He is a devout Catholic speaking to Catholic college graduates by invitation. That he is criticized for speaking strongly about his faith — and calling others to practice the faith whether they are clergy, public figures, or lay faithful — is a sign of our godless times.”

Like it or not, she continued, “In America, we are still free to practice our faiths and speak our minds, if some find that objectionable it proves the necessity of First Amendment protections and basic decency and civility. … His critics will not mention that in his address and by his example, he called on men to be good, strong, loving, and holy men who sacrifice themselves for their wives, families, faith, and country. His advice that the young graduates consider their future decisions about where to live based on whether or not they will be well fed spiritually in their new parish homes was both practical and really important. Having already chosen a college like Benedictine, I suspect it’s advice they will follow.”

S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.