The lead story on CNN’s “Belief Blog” at this moment concerns a former National Football League player who apparently lost a church speaking engagement after tweeting support for basketball player Jason Collins, who this week revealed that he’s gay.
Stop the presses!
Seriously, this is national news?:
Washington (CNN) – LeRoy Butler, a former safety for the Green Bay Packers, is one of many professional athletes to tweet support for Jason Collins, the NBA player who came out as gay this week.
“Congrats to Jason Collins,” Butler tweeted April 29, the day Collins came out in a Sports Illustrated cover story.
But Butler says the four-word tweet cost him a speaking appearance at a Wisconsin church.
The church’s response?
Well, that’s where the apparently comes in:
He was scheduled to speak at the church (whose name he has not revealed) about bullying and his new book, “The LeRoy Butler Story: From Wheelchair to the Lambeau Leap.”
However, Butler announced the trouble in a series of tweets on Wednesday and Thursday.
CNN links to a similarly vague, one-sided Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel story:
Shortly after sending a four-word message on Twitter — “Congrats to Jason Collins” — Butler got a call from a member of a church where he was scheduled to give an anti-bullying presentation this summer, he told the Journal Sentinel on Wednesday. Butler confirmed the church is in Wisconsin, but declined to share its name or approximate location.
He assumed the call was to discuss details of the upcoming event. He said he speaks to several churches every year and that sponsors usually help the church raise money to cover his fee – in this case $8,500 – and in turn, donations are collected during the event to benefit the church. He assumed the call was to discuss event details.
Instead, Butler was told the church would cancel his presentation unless he removed the tweet, apologized and asked for God’s forgiveness.
“This is what bothers me the most. They said, ‘If you ask for forgiveness and remove the tweet and you say something to the effect that you don’t congratulate (Collins), then we’ll let you do the engagement and get the speaker’s fee, and I said I’m not doing that,” Butler said Wednesday. “Every gay and lesbian person will say ‘You know, LeRoy doesn’t speak up for the weak or the silenced. He doesn’t stand for anything as a man and he did it for money.’ Why would you ask me to reduce my integrity like that?”
Neither story provides any context or insight into the former NFL player’s religious background or specific beliefs concerning homosexuality.
Nor does either story seek out any “other side” type of comment to explain why a church with traditional Christian beliefs on sexuality might have a problem with what Butler tweeted.
Your turn, GetReligion readers: Is this story news or not? Why or why not?