In the face of rabid leftist backlash over an explicitly Christian commencement speech he delivered, football star Harrison Butker is finding plenty of support. The Kansas City Chiefs kicker’s bold proclamation of countercultural Christian truth to the 2024 graduating class at the Catholic Benedictine College sparked the ire of leftists, both within the National Football League and without.

Jonathan Beane, the NFL’s senior vice president and top diversity, equity, and inclusion officer, tried to distance the organization from the biblical worldview espoused by Butker, saying last week, “Harrison Butker gave a speech in his personal capacity. His views are not those of the NFL as an organization. The NFL is steadfast in our commitment to inclusion, which only makes our league stronger.”

Others have taken aim at Butker’s Catholic faith, smearing him as “extremist,” and an online petition has garnered over 200,000 signatures calling for the kicker to be fired for “discriminatory remarks.”

As clamorous as the left-wing condemnation of Butker has been, support for the outspokenly Christian kicker has been just as loud. During a press conference this week, Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid came to his player’s defense.

“Everybody is from 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. It’s the great thing about America, man,” Reid told reporters. “The guys are good with that. They understand. They understand how things work. Everybody’s got their own opinion; that’s what’s so great about this country. You can share those things, and you work through it. And that’s what guys do.”

When a reporter asked Reid if he thought Butker was speaking “ill” of women in his commencement speech, referring to the kicker’s comments praising his wife and extolling the virtues of motherhood, Reid replied, “He has his opinions, and we all respect that. I let you guys in this room, and you have a lot of opinions that I don’t like.”

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes also supported his teammate, saying that Butker shows his character “every single day, and that’s a good person.” He added, “That’s someone who cares about the people around him, cares about his family, and wants to make a good impact in society.” Mahomes continued:

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. It might not be the same values as I have, but at the same time, I’m gonna judge him by the character that he shows every single day, and that’s a great person.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell took a similar stance, issuing a statement saying, “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.”

Former ESPN “SportsCenter” host Sage Steele said in a video that she thought much of Butker’s speech was “so beautiful.” She explained, “As a woman, to hear your spouse praise you and have such gratitude towards you—not just privately but publicly, in front of now millions of people—isn’t that what every woman and every mother would want to hear, is their husband loving on them and praising them for their sacrifice?” She asked, “Isn’t that pro-woman?”

Some Catholic bishops have even come to Butker’s defense. Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of the Archdiocese of San Francisco wrote on social media that the football star’s “call for young Catholic men to put their vocations as husbands and fathers first could not be more important.” He added, “Faithfulness is the way.”

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the diocese of Springfield, Illinois, penned a column on Butker’s speech, saying that it “can be described as pro-God, pro-faith, pro-life, pro-family, and pro-motherhood. The fact that he has come under harsh and vitriolic criticism for his remarks shows how far our country has strayed from its Judeo-Christian roots and values.”

He concluded, “We should not be surprised that the secular world hates us for our Christian beliefs …. God bless Harrison Butker for speaking the truth. May we all take encouragement from his courage to stand up for what is right and speak up for what is true. May God give us this grace.”

Bishop James Johnston of Butker’s home diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph spoke up, too. “Harrison Butker’s passion for his Catholic faith and his family are beautiful and well known. And like most people, he also has strong opinions on where we are as a church and as a nation,” Johnston told media. “I support Mr. Butker’s right to share his faith and express his opinions—including those that are critical of bishops.”

In his column, Paprocki also noted that nearly a third of Butker’s speech was “devoted to criticism of bishops and priests.” He added, “In fact, there has been little or no negative reaction about this from bishops or priests because we bishops and priests respect his right to make his views known, including his call for priests to exemplify ‘those virtues proper to every Christian, and indeed every honorable man … ’”

Sales of Butker’s jerseys have also skyrocketed, frequently being sold out, despite leftist claims that his faith-filled speech make him “cultish” and “extremist.”

Originally published by The Washington Stand