NFL, Nuns, and Tavia Hunt Respond to Inflammatory Commencement Speech

On May 11, Kansas City Chiefs’ Kicker, Harrison Butker, stirred online outrage after giving a controversial commencement speech at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. 

In his speech, Butker criticized Pride month, abortion rights, Catholics for supporting diversity and equity, and bishops and priests for being more connected to their parish and parishioners by sharing “photos with their dogs in matching outfits for the Parish directory.” But, the main cause of the uproar was when he directed his speech to the graduating women, saying they have been told “diabolical lies” about having careers and their main “vocation” in life should be as a “homemaker.” 

“It is you, the women, who have been told the most diabolical lies. Some of you may go on to lead a successful career 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. 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.” 

The NFL released a statement to the media saying, “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” (CBS News). 

The Sisters of Benedictine College issued a statement via Facebook saying his speech doesn’t “represent the Catholic, Benedictine, liberal arts college that our founders envisioned and in which we have been so invested. 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.”

Online commentators responded to the Nun’s posts with messages thanking them for “speaking up” and not agreeing with how “Christianity [has been] used as a way to disguise hate and misogyny [which] make it difficult to [convince] others to know the true love and beauty of faith.” Another commenter wrote, “I found his words to be divisive and belittling, not at all what I experienced during my learning years at The Mount.” Also, telling Benedictine College to “vet speeches before handing over the microphone.” 

Tavia Hunt, the wife of the Chiefs team owner, had a different take on Butker’s speech that she posted on Instagram

ESPN’s Samantha Ponder agreed with Harrison Butker’s stance on the importance of motherhood but also said, “You can live purposefully as a single woman, too.” 

A Benedictine graduating student shared how “she was shocked that Butker used the speech to address gender roles instead of encouraging her and other graduating women to follow their dreams.” (NBC News)

Harrison Butker has not released any comments about the situation.

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