Seven key takeaways from Harrison Butker’s wildly controversial college commencement speech

Harrison Butker is an NFL player – a kicker for the Kansas City Chiefs. He’s facing a huge backlash after controversial comments he made in his Benedictine College commencement speech transcript went viral.

The athlete said in his speech that students should have “true God-centred pride, not the deadly sin sort of Pride that has an entire month dedicated to it,” as well as attacking the Democrats’ stance on abortion.

The speech has become such a hot topic that even The View host Whoopi Goldberg has waded in. The actor addressed Butker’s sexist and anti-LGBTQ+ comments from his speech on the 16 May episode of The View, after a petition to axe the sportsperson from the Kansas City Chiefs garnered over 168,000 signatures.

But what did Harrison Butker actually say to cause so much outrage? Let’s take a look at seven key takeaways.

Harrison Butker speech transcript

1. Abortion is murder

Early in his speech, Harrison Butker takes aim at President Joe Biden for fuelling “degenerate cultural values”, specifically stating: “Our own nation is led by a man who publicly and proudly proclaims his Catholic faith but at the same time is delusional enough to make the sign of the cross during a pro-abortion rally, he has been so vocal in his support for the murder of innocent babies that I’m sure to many people it appears that you can be both Catholic and pro-choice.”

He also cmplained about an erosion of traditional Catholic values in daily life, saying that “abortion, IVF, surrogacy, euthanasia as well as a growing support for degenerate cultural values and media” come from “the pervasiveness of disorder.”

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2. Bishops are “misleading their flocks”

Butker also goes on a lengthy aside about bad apples in the Catholic priesthood; saying that the Church needs to get its “house in order” and listing many, many ways he thought that should be done.

“There is not enough today time today for me to list all the stories of priests and Bishops misleading their flocks… sadly many priests we are looking to for leadership are the same ones who prioritise their hobbies or even photos with their dogs and matching outfits for the parish directory.

“The chaos of the world is unfortunately reflected in the chaos in our parishes and in our Cathedrals too.”

He’s particularly unimpressed by priests who practice familiarity with their parishioners instead of being teachers, quoting Taylor Swift, girlfriend of his teammate Travis Kelce, saying “familiarity breeds contempt.”

3. LGBTQ+ pride is “sinful”

A person at Manchester Pride holding a sign that reads 'Not a Sin'
The Manchester Pride parade (Manchester Pride)

Butker then takes aim at the LGBTQ+ community, saying: “I am certain the reporters at AP could not have imagined that their attempt to rebuke and embarrass places and people like those here at Benedictine wouldn’t be met with anger, but instead met with excitement and pride – not the deadly sin sort of Pride that has an entire month dedicated to it, but the true God-centered Pride that is cooperating with the Holy Ghost.”

As part of this, he accused world leaders of “pushing dangerous gender ideologies onto the youth of America.”

4. A woman’s place is in the home

Following on from his comments about the LGBTQ+ community, Harrison Butker then says he wants to address the women in the audience “directly” in his speech transcript, explaining: “I think it is you the women who have had the most diabolical lies told to you,” going on to explain that those lies were about careers:

“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 as a mother.

“I cannot be overstated that all of my success is made possible because a girl I met back in middle school would convert to the faith become my wife and embrace one of the most important titles of all: homemaker.

“Isabelle’s dream of having a career might not have come true but if you ask her today if she has any regrets on her decision she would laugh out loud without hesitation and say heck no.”

5. … and so is a man’s, actually

Following the homemaker comments, Butker pauses to discuss the “plague” of single-parent families with no father in the house. The 28-year old goes on a diatribe about this situation, saying: “What plagues our society is this lie that has been told to you that men are not necessary in the home or in our communities.

“As men we set the tone of the culture and when that is absent disorder, dysfunction and chaos set in. This absence of men in the home is what plays a large role in the violence we see all around the nation. Be unapologetic in your masculinity, fighting against the cultural emasculation of men.”

6. Covid also comes up a few times

He seems to think that the response to the pandemic was excessive, saying: “We cannot buy into the lie that the things we experienced during Covid were appropriate. Over the centuries there have been great wars, great famines and yes, even great diseases that came with a level of lethality and danger, but in each of those examples church leaders leaned into their vocations and ensured that their people received the sacraments.”

7. We live in a “post-God world”.

Finally, Harrison Butker sends the students away with a warning, saying: “Make no mistake, you are entering into Mission territory in a post-God world, but you were made for this and with God by your side and a constant striving for virtue within your vocation you too can be a saint. Christ is King to the heights.”

You can find the full Harrison Butker speech transcript here.

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