Harrison Butker’s ‘Controversial’ Commencement Address


Harrison Butker is the incredibly talented field goal kicker for the World Champion Kansas City Chiefs of the NFL. His 27-yard effort against the Philadelphia Eagles, which gave the Chiefs the victory in Super Bowl LVII, is just one of many clutch kicks that he’s made in his storied career. However, in recent weeks his conduct and words off the field have caused many of our fellow Americans to become nothing short of apoplectic. In some quarters he’s been written and spoken about as if he were a common criminal.
And what was the man’s diabolical “crime”?
It was that he dared to espouse traditional Catholic moral values publicly, and to extol the sacrificial love of women who make the free and personal choice to be homemakers and to raise children in 2024. He did this within the context of a commencement address he gave at a Catholic school — Benedictine College in Kansas — on May 11. He used his own experience to drive home his point about homemakers, praising his wife in the process. He said,“I can tell you that my beautiful wife Isabelle would be the first to say that her life truly started when she began living her vocation as a wife and a mother. I’m on this stage, and able to be the man I am, because I have a wife who leans into her vocation as a wife and as a mother.”
Had he spoken positively in the talk about moral licentiousness or other vices, the secular world would no doubt have hailed him as a hero for giving this speech. Instead, however, he’s had to face what one journalist perceptively called “the virulently anti-family liberal media’s rhetorical lynch mob.” So much for tolerance and inclusion!
Even the NFL piled on (pardon the pun), by distancing itself from Butker, asserting that “his views are not those of the NFL as an organization.”
Thankfully, there have been a few rational voices of note in the midst of all the apoplexy and the social media cacophony. The wife and the daughter of Chiefs’ owner Clark Hunt, for example, have both spoken out in support of Butker, as has (believe it or not) Whoopi Goldberg. While not agreeing with much of what Butker said in his address, Whoopi at least acknowledged his right to say it. She stated,“I like when people say what they need to say. He’s at a Catholic college, he’s a staunch Catholic. These are his beliefs and he’s welcome to them.” Later she added,“We want to give respect to people whose ideas are different from ours.”
Butker’s speech — to which the audience at Benedictine College responded with a standing ovation — reminds us of the countercultural nature of the Church and the Gospel she preaches. The moral norms that many (perhaps most) people live by in 2024 are no longer rooted in the Ten Commandments and the Natural Law. If nothing else, this controversy has made that fact crystal clear. Thus our world needs more believers like Harrison Butker, who are willing to stand up for Jesus and speak his truth in love—even when the message is not popular. And these days, sad to say, it often isn’t.