Chiefs Kicker Spreads Antisemitic Lies in Benedictine College Graduation Speech

Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker kicked the hornet’s nest last weekend when he encouraged the women of Benedictine College’s 2024 graduate class to embrace their roles as wives and homemakers rather than putting their degrees to use. While the speech drew widespread criticism for his characterization of women and LGBTQ+ people, Butker also promoted an insidious piece of antisemitic misinformation pertaining to legislation in Congress.

“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,” Butker said in his commencement speech. “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.”

The three-time Super Bowl champion went on to describe how his wife, Isabelle, never achieved her “dream of having a career,” but that “if you ask her today if she has any regrets on her decision, she would laugh out loud without hesitation, and say, ‘Hey, no.’”

Of course, Butker earns millions of dollars per year as an NFL player — so a second income isn’t exactly necessary. Ironically enough, during his commencement speech, Butker quoted Taylor Swift, a woman who has built a wildly successful career and billion-dollar fortune without a husband, who is now dating Butker’s teammate, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.

Butker, a devout Catholic, also claimed that “Congress just passed a bill where stating something as basic as the Biblical teaching of who killed Jesus could land you in jail.”

This is a reference to the Republican-led House of Representatives passing a bill that would threaten federal funding for colleges and universities that fail to restrict antisemitic speech. The controversial legislation was almost certainly designed to limit speech criticizing Israel, but it would also target “claims of Jews killing Jesus.”

Some conservative lawmakers opposed the bill on this basis, arguing it would effectively outlaw the classic antisemitic belief that Jews killed Jesus. To be clear, though, the bill threatens university funding, not jail time for bigots. It has not been voted on in the Senate.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) said she opposed the legislation because it “could convict Christians of antisemitism for believing the Gospel that says Jesus was handed over to Herod to be crucified by the Jews.” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) argued “the Gospel itself would meet the definition of antisemitism under the terms of the bill.”

These statements are a misinterpretation of Catholic doctrine. While the Biblical gospels do say that Jesus was presented before Jewish leadership of Judea for judgment, he was ultimately condemned to death by the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate. Historically, claims that Jews were ultimately responsible for the death of Jesus have been wielded as an antisemitic trope against Jewish populations.

In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI, then-head of the Catholic Church, declared that there was no basis in scripture that would hold Jews in collective guilt for the death of Jesus, and pointed out that — after all — the early followers of the Catholic faith were themselves Jewish.

In his Benedictine College speech, Butker also said that “things like abortion, IVF, surrogacy, euthanasia, as well as a growing support for degenerative cultural values in media all stem from the pervasiveness of disorder.” He specifically criticized Joe Biden for being pro-choice, saying that the president “proclaims his Catholic faith, but at the same time is delusional enough to make the sign of the cross during a pro-abortion rally.”

The speech wasn’t the NFL player’s first foray into the abortion debate. In 2022, Butker starred in a misleading TV ad campaign promoting a failed Kansas ballot measure that would have ended constitutional protections for abortion in the state, so that lawmakers could ban the procedure.

In the ad, Butker identified himself as the Kansas City Chiefs kicker, and claimed the amendment would “let Kansas decide what we do on abortion, not judges and not D.C. politicians.”

The ad campaign was funded by the dark-money group CatholicVote Civic Action, which in turn was bankrolled by the dark-money network led by Leonard Leo — who is best known as the architect of the conservative Supreme Court supermajority that overturned Roe v. Wade and allowed states to ban abortion.

In an odd coincidence, Leo gave Benedictine College’s commencement speech last year, giving a similarly right-wing speech warning of “modern-day barbarians, secularists, and bigots” who are “determined to threaten and delegitimize individuals and institutions who refuse to pledge fealty to the woke idols of our age.”

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