Church cancels LeRoy Butler speech after Jason Collins tweet

A Wisconsin church has canceled a speaking engagement by former Green Bay Packers safety LeRoy Butler because of his congratulatory tweet involving Jason Collins, the NBA player who announced Monday that he is gay.

Butler, known for his role in inventing the Lambeau Leap, tweeted: “Congrats to Jason Collins” and said he was informed by a church that he declined to identify that his speech about bullying was canceled. In a series of tweets, he wrote:

(Courtesy Sports Illustrated)
(Courtesy Sports Illustrated)

“Wow, I was scheduled to speak at a church in WI, and a member said that the pastor wants to cancel my event. I said ok why? Then I was told, because I said congrats to Jason Collins on Twitter. I said really? we have a contract, he said check the moral cause, FYI the fee was $8,500, then I was told if I removed the tweet, and apologize and ask god forgiveness, I can have the event. I said no, only god can judge.”

Collins declined to identify the denomination or location of the church when contacted by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“This is what bothers me the most. They said, ‘If you ask for forgiveness and remove the tweet and you say something to the effect that you don’t congratulate [Collins] then we’ll let you do the engagement and get the speaker’s fee,’ and I said I’m not doing that,” Butler told Ashley Luthern.

“Every gay and lesbian person will say ‘You know, LeRoy doesn’t speak up for the weak or the silenced. He doesn’t stand for anything as a man and he did it for money.’ Why would you ask me to reduce my integrity like that?”

Butler said he told the pastor that he believes the church was trying to intimidate him.

“This is a form of bullying, what you’re doing. ‘You’re trying to get me to do something I don’t want to do,’ ” Butler said. “He disagreed, and I said, ‘We agree to disagree’ and he said, ‘No, I’m right and you’re wrong.’ ”

The Journal Sentinel reports that the church has tried to reach Butler to apologize. Although he would accept the apology, he said he would decline to speak at the church.

Follow @CindyBoren on Twitter and on Facebook.

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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Cindy Boren · May 1, 2013