The Handmaid’s Placekicker?

As if the Kansas City Chiefs needed it, yet another one of the players for their back-to-back Super Bowl championship team has become a household name.  Until he was given the opportunity to speak to graduating students at a conservative college in Kansas, Harrison Butker was perhaps best known as a kicker who’d occasionally bail out the team whenever quarterback Patrick Mahomes or tight end Travis Kelce would have an occasional off day, not that the celebrity of either of them would suffer any long-term consequences on the rare occasions when that would happen.

But when Butker was given the chance to deliver a speech at the Benedictine College commencement last Saturday, he took the opportunity to deliver a sermon on the mount for the ages.  CNN’s AJ Willingham reported the basics:

In front of the crowd of about 485 male and female graduates, Butker suggested that a woman’s accomplishments in the home are more valuable than any academic or professional goals.

“I want to speak directly to you briefly because I think it is you, the women, who have had the most diabolical lies told to you,” he said.

“How many of you are sitting here now about to cross this stage and are thinking about all the promotions and titles you are going to get in your career? 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.”

Butker also praised his wife Isabelle, saying she “would be the first to say her life truly started when she began living her vocation as a wife and as a mother.”

Doubling down, Butker also choice to offer his worldly views on other issues to the day:

 Butker criticized President Joe Biden, who is Catholic, and other unnamed Catholic leaders for “pushing dangerous gender ideologies onto the youth of America” — an apparent reference to transgender rights.

• In a swipe at LGBTQ communities, Butker encouraged graduates to have Catholic pride, but “not the deadly sin sort of pride that has an entire month dedicated to it.”

• Butker also waded into the DEI debate, saying, “The world around us says that we should keep our beliefs to ourselves whenever they go against the tyranny of diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Predictably, this has caused a firestorm of reaction and overreaction from every entity from the NFL itself to the panel on THE VIEW.  Maria Shriver, who knows a thing or two about powerful men, made her own news as reported by THE INDEPENDENT’s Amber Raiken:

The journalist, 68, took to X – formerly known as Twitter – on Thursday to slam Butker’s controversial speech.. Shriver started by asking Butker what point he was trying to “make to women” with his remarks about their “present day life choices”. “Did he really want them, aka us, to believe that our lives truly only begin when we lean into the vocation of wife and mother?” she wrote. “I read that a couple times over, and then I went to listen to make sure I heard it correctly. I DID.”

She then recalled how he spoke to men in the audience during his speech, specifically quoting his claim that men “set the tone of the culture, and when that is absent, disorder, dysfunction, and chaos set in”. He also claimed that “this absence of men in the home is what plays a larger role in the violence we see all around the nation”.

After also calling Butker out for taking “a swipe at the LGBTQ community,” she acknowledged how she disagreed with his remarks, and why she was publicly speaking out about it.

And has been widely reported, the league’s attitude was to immediately separate church and state:

In a statement released by Jonathan Beane, NFL senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer, the league clarified: “Harrison Butker spoke in his personal capacity. His views do not reflect those of the NFL, which is committed to inclusion and believes it strengthens our league.”

Yes, this would be the same league that back in 2018 issued this statement when another one of its players felt the calling to voice his views on topics of personal importance. 

At least Butker’s employers aren’t an incensed at him as the 49ers and 31 other teams who had (and still technically do have) the chance to employ Kaepernick.  This was the reaction of the wife of Chiefs’ owner Clark Hunt via Instagram:

I’ve always encouraged my daughters to be highly educated and chase their dreams. I want them to know that they can do whatever they want (that honors God).

But I also want them to know that I believe finding a spouse who loves and honors you as or before himself and raising a family together is one of the greatest blessings this world has to offer. Studies show that committed, married couples with children are the happiest demographic, and this has been my experience as well.

Look, if one happens to fall into the fortunate demographic that the likes of a spouse of a six-figure NFL player or the heir to generations of wealth from oil do, one can certainly choose the kind of path that Isabelle Butker has elected.  As Shriver reminds, not all “women can make that choice, even if they wanted to”. She pointed out how multiple families need both parents to be working to function in their everyday lives, which could include “raising kids”, “caring for aging parents,” and more.

While I clearly disagree with how Harrison Butker sees the world, I’m not denying his right to believe it.  Rather than take issue with what he said, I’m more concerned about the where and the why.

While at first blush it would appear that a conservative school in the Chiefs’ DMA would be as safe a haven to express these views, it’s pretty clear Butker misread this as badly as he often has the pass rush of some of his opponents.  NEWSWEEK’s Shannon Power reported how some more vocal members of his audience felt:

Susannah Leisegang, a graphics design major, was in the audience and one a few people who booed loudly during Butker’s speech. She shared her thoughts on TikTok in a video that has been viewed more than 106,000 times. It was also posted to X, formerly Twitter, where it has been seen almost 780,000 times.  “He was f***** horrible and some of us did boo. Me and my roommate definitely did. There was a standing ovation from everyone in the room, except from me, my roommate and about 10 to 15 other women,” Leisegang began.

And BROBIBLE’s Clay Sauterlieg noted that sort of view didn’t just end with the student body:

The Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica, the nuns who live at the university, don’t seem to agree. 

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 on Facebook.
“Instead of promoting unity in our church, our nation, and the world, his comments seem to have fostered division…Our community has taught young women and men not just how to be ‘homemakers’ in a limited sense, but rather how to make a Gospel-centered, compassionate home within themselves where they can welcome others as Christ, empowering them to be the best versions of themselves. We reject a narrow definition of what it means to be Catholic.”
And as to why he feels such a calling, I would only offer up from my own experiences with theoretically well-meaning believers, where whatever curiosity or need I had was stirred not by admonishment, not by condemnation, but by behavior.  And indeed, a quick search via the website EXPLANING THE BIBLE offers more than a few parables that back that up:

Thessalonians 1:7-8 – Becoming an Example to Others

“And so, you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere.”

Timothy 4:12 – Setting a Good Example

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.”

Peter 5:3 – Leading by Example

“Not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.”

Romans 15:2 – Building Up Others

“Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.”

I assume Harrison Butker knows these words far better than I do.  I’m curious why he thinks something to the contrary would have resonated at a college graduation in 2024.

What I’m truly curious about is what Butker would say to one Carl Nassib, who conceivably was given opportunties to tackle him on the football field when he was a member of the Las Vegas Raiders.  Nassib made headlines in 2021 as the first openly gay active player in NFL history.

Without the distancing of a auditorium and security guards standing at a lectern spewing what he now is trying to peddle as words “taken out of context”, would Butker be End Times-Jesus enough to look someone like Nassib in the eye and reiterate what he felt had to be said to the students of Benedictine College?

The division rival Chiefs and Raiders will meet on October 27th in Las Vegas.  Many of Nassib’s former teammates are still active members of the Raiders.

I sure hope for his sake he can read a defense better than he can read a room.

Until next time…

 

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