US: Church cancels former NFL player’s speech over congratulatory tweet to Jason Collins

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A former NFL player and Super Bowl Champion, has had a speaking appearance cancelled by a church over a congratulatory tweet he sent to recently out NBA star, Jason Collins.

Jason Collins on Monday spoke about his sexuality, confirming he is gay in an article in Sports Illustrated magazine. He said: “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.

LeRoy Butler, former NFL player, who now runs a foundation fighting breast cancer, tweeted Jason Collins on the announcement that he was coming out to say: “Congrats to Jason Collins,” reports RawStory.

The champion of Super Bowl XXXI, then tweeted late on Tuesday to say that he had been scheduled to speak at an undisclosed church in the US state of Wisconsin, but that it had cancelled when it saw his tweet to Collins.

He said: “Wow, I was schedule [sic] to speak at a church in WI, and a member said that the pastor wants to cancel my event, I said ok why?,” he wrote.

“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 [clause].”

He went on to say that he had been offered $8,500 (£5,500) to speak at the church, and that he was offered the chance to still appear there if he retracted his congratulations.

He said: “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,” he concluded in a final tweet.

Since coming out, Collins has revealed that he had been making a quiet statement of solidarity with the gay community, every time he stepped out onto the court, by wearing a 98 jersey, in memorial of murdered Wisconsin student Matthew Shepard. 

Collins has received thousands of messages of support, including from President Barack Obama, and First Lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton, his teammates, coaches, the Commissioner of the NBA, and countless others.