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Benedictine College nuns denounce Harrison Butker's speech at their school

An order of nuns affiliated with Benedictine College rejected Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison's Butker's comments in a commencement speech there last weekend that stirred up a culture war skirmish.

"The sisters of Mount St. Scholastica do not believe that Harrison Butker's comments in his 2024 Benedictine College commencement address represent the Catholic, Benedictine, liberal arts college that our founders envisioned and in which we have been so invested," the nuns wrote in a statement posted on Facebook.

In his 20-minute address, Butker denounced abortion rights, Pride Month, COVID-19 lockdowns and "the tyranny of diversity, equity and inclusion" at the Catholic liberal arts college in Atchison, Kan.

He also told women in the audience to embrace the "vocation" of homemaker.

"I want to speak directly to you briefly because I think it is you, the women, who have had the most diabolical lies told to you. How many of you are sitting here now about to cross the stage, and are thinking about all the promotions and titles you're going to get in your career?" he asked. "Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world. But I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world."

That was one of the themes that the sisters of Mount St. Scholastica took issue with.

"Instead of promoting unity in our church, our nation, and the world, his comments seem to have fostered division," they wrote. "One of our concerns was the assertion that being a homemaker is the highest calling for a woman. We sisters have dedicated our lives to God and God's people, including the many women whom we have taught and influenced during the past 160 years. These women have made a tremendous difference in the world in their roles as wives and mothers and through their God-given gifts in leadership, scholarship, and their careers."

The Benedictine sisters of Mount St. Scholastica founded a school for girls in Atchinson in the 1860s. It merged with St. Benedict's College in 1971 to form Benedictine College.

Neither Butker nor the Chiefs have commented on the controversy. An online petition calling for the Chiefs to release the kicker had nearly 215,000 signatures as of Sunday morning.

The NFL, for its part, has distanced itself from Butker's remarks.

"Harrison Butker gave a speech in his personal capacity," Jonathan Beane, the NFL's senior VP and chief diversity and inclusion officer told NPR on Thursday. "His views are not those of the NFL as an organization."

Meanwhile, Butker's No. 7 jersey is one of the league's top-sellers, rivaling those of better-known teammates Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce.

Butker has been open about his faith. The 28-year-old father of two told the Eternal Word Television Network in 2019 that he grew up Catholic but practiced less in high school and college before rediscovering his belief later in life.

His comments have gotten some support from football fan social media accounts and Christian and conservative media personalities.

A video of his speech posted on Benedictine College's YouTube channel has 1.5 million views.

Copyright 2024 NPR

John Helton
[Copyright 2024 NPR]