LeRoy Butler becomes embroiled in dispute with church over Collins support


LeRoy Butler, a member of the Packers Hall of Fame, was to appear at a church in Wisconsin, but the church cancelled the appearance because of Butler’s public support for NBA player Jason Collins.

Raymond T. Rivard photograph

We wonder what Reggie White would have thought.

The man White teamed up with on the football field to initiate one of sports most recognizable celebrations – the Lambeau Leap – stood up on principle to a Wisconsin church that cancelled a speech because former Green Bay Packers safety LeRoy Butler came out in support of Jason Collins.

We all know Collins came out in a Sports Illustrated article this week proclaiming his homosexuality and many professional athletes, Butler included, showed their support.

But when the church officials caught wind of Butler’s support, they cancelled an appearance scheduled for Butler.

Here’s how it all came about:

So, what does it all have to do with Reggie White? Well, you might remember that near the end of his career with the Packers, White was invited to speak to the Wisconsin Legislature where he launched into speech where he said that the United States was moving away from God and that homosexuality was “running rampant.”

Here is more of what White said:

"“Homosexuality is a decision, it’s not a race. People from all different ethnic backgrounds live in this lifestyle. But people from all different ethnic bacgrounds also are liars and cheaters and malicious and back-stabbing. I’ve often had people ask me, ‘would you allow a homosexual to be your friend?’ Yes I will. And the reason is because I know that that person has problems. If I can minister to those problems, I will. But the Bible strictly speaks against it.”"

But that’s not all. Here’s what White said in another published interview before he died:

“Gay activists are trying to force their agenda on our children and society, and it bothers me,” White said in an interview with Citizen Magazine. “When you look at the gay agenda, their thing is that they deserve the same rights as other minorities, particularly black people. That is very offensive.”

With the intolerance displayed by the church against Butler today, we wonder how Reggie would have reacted. Would the changes in society that have occurred over the past 15 years have changed White’s outlook or would he still have the same views.

It’s all speculative, but it surely is an illustration of how things can change, but stay the same.

We recognize Butler for his convictions and his principles.

We’re glad he stood strong today against intolerance and hope others will follow his lead.