Harrison Butker breaks silence on viral speech, says he seeks to please Jesus, not the world

Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker speaks during the Regina Coeli Academy gala event in Nashville, Tennessee, on May 24, 2024.
Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker speaks during the Regina Coeli Academy gala event in Nashville, Tennessee, on May 24, 2024. | Screenshot: Twitter/Daily Wire

Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker said Friday that the “shocking level of hate” he's received in response to his recent Catholic college commencement speech will not deter him from being “unapologetic” and doesn’t compare to the persecution martyrs have faced. 

Butker, 28, spoke publicly for the first time since his commencement speech at Benedictine College in Kansas on May 11 sparked a national media firestorm as he touched on abortion, women, parenting, and LGBT issues.

On Friday night, Butker spoke during “Courage Under Fire” gala in Nashville, Tennessee, in support of the Regina Coeli Academy. RCA, of which Butker is a board member, is a classical homeschool hybrid model that offers an accredited curriculum for pre-K through 12th grade. 

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“The theme of tonight’s gala — Courage Under Fire — was decided many months ago, but it now feels providential that this would be the theme after what we have all witnessed these past few weeks,” Butker said in the speech. “If it wasn’t clear that the timeless Catholic values are hated by many, it is now.”

Butker said that in the past few days, his beliefs — or what people think his beliefs are — “have been the focus of countless discussions around the globe.”

“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,” he said. “In my seven years in the NFL, I have become familiar with the positive and negative comments. But the majority of them revolved around my performance on the field. But as to be expected, the more I’ve talked about what I value most, which is my Catholic faith, the more polarizing I’ve become.”

Butker has said he has become more vocal about his faith and beliefs in the last few years. 

“It’s a decision I’ve consciously made and one I do not regret at all,” he asserted. “If we have truth and charity, we should trust in the Lord’s providence and let the holy ghost do the rest of the work. Our love for Jesus, and thus our desire to speak out, can never be outweighed by the longing for our fallen nature to be loved by the world.”

“Glorifying God and not ourselves should always remain our motivation despite any pushback or even support,” he added. “I lean on those closest to me for guidance. But I can never forget that it is not people but Jesus Christ who I am trying to please.”

The kicker said he can’t “help but tremble at the courage many saints have shown in their lives.”

“Would I be so bold if the repercussions is what Daniel faced in being fed to lions?” he asked. “In reality, any courage I’ve shown will lead to some small suffering and will lead to some people never liking me. That could be God’s will. If I constantly remind myself of the hardships that saints went through, especially the martyrs and their persecution, it makes it all seem not so bad. For if Heaven is our goal, we should embrace our cross however large or small it may be and live our life for joy to be a bold witness for Christ." 

Butker hopes others will be “unapologetic” in their Catholic faith and “never be afraid to speak out for truth, even when it goes against the loudest voices.”

Addressing graduates at the Catholic college in Kansas earlier this month, Butker criticized President Joe Biden, a professing Catholic, for supporting policies that expand access to abortion despite the Catholic Church's firm opposition to the procedure. 

Butker also criticized in-vitro fertilization, surrogacy, euthanasia, "degenerate cultural values" and "dangerous gender ideologies."

He also made comments directed at women in the audience, suggesting that "the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world" instead of any career developments. He discussed how his wife gave up her career to be a stay-at-home mother. 

Those who oppose the nature of Butker’s comments have launched an online petition backed by over 225,000 supporters calling on the NFL and the Chiefs to release Butker over his "sexist, homophobic, anti-trans, anti-abortion and racist" views. 

Speaking with the press on Wednesday, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said that while he doesn’t agree with Butker’s comments, he judges his longtime teammate based on the "character that he shows every single day."

"And that's a good person," Mahomes said, describing Butker as "someone who cares about the people around him, cares about his family and wants to make a good impact in society."

"When you're in the locker room, there's a lot of people from a lot of different areas of life, and they have a lot of different views on everything, and we're not always going to agree," he added. "There are certain things that he said that I don't necessarily agree with, but I understand the person that he is, and he's trying to do whatever he can to lead people in the right direction."

Head coach Andy Reid offered similar thoughts Wednesday, saying players are entitled to their opinions. 

"I didn't talk to him about this, didn't think we needed to," Reid said. "We're a microcosm of life here by serving different areas, different religions, different races and so we all get along, we all respect each other's opinions and not necessarily do we go by those but … we respect everybody to have a voice." 

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke about Butker's comments earlier this week.

"We have over 3,000 players. We have executives around the league. They have diversity of opinions and thoughts just like America does. That's something we treasure," the commissioner said.

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