Harrison Butker is ‘Daddy Dearest’ of White Christian Nationalists

Harrison Butker.

Please let me preface this article by stating that I am a person of faith. I support everyone’s First Amendment right to practice their faith and not have the faith of others imposed upon them. After a long day of being in the field as a public servant, I saw an article posted about the speech Harrison Butker, an NFL player for the Kansas City Chiefs and a three-time Super Bowl winner, delivered at a graduation ceremony at a Catholic college. I don’t watch football, so I would walk past the man if I saw him at Walmart—however, the video of the speech he gave had seriously gone viral. I skimmed through the article as I stood there waiting for my Dunkin Donuts coffee to be ready, and I didn’t see anything out of the norm, per se, when it comes to White Christian Nationalists in the media. He hates queer people, abortion, and doesn’t believe in science.

Then, I listened to his speech several times when I got home and realized that this was anything but a speech. It reminded me of Fay Dunaway playing Joan Crawford in the film Mommie Dearest. Even though the film has become a huge cult classic, and the “no wire hangers” scene probably has been done by every drag queen in the United States and abroad, the film killed Dunaway’s career. While the outrageous camp element, as well as the portrayal of Joan Crawford, would resonate with queer audiences and still does, it was really tacky. One review from Variety magazine said Dunaway didn’t chew the scene; she swallowed it whole, costars and all. 

That’s pretty much what Butker did in his performance. He went on a diatribe, and it was a culture war on steroids. He deliberately used overtly inflammatory language by referring to abortion as murder and said people celebrating Pride is a deadly sin. He told women they should serve their husbands, talked about how Jews killed Jesus, and implied the COVID lockdown was a mistake. It always amuses me to hear pro-life people like him condemn abortion, but he doesn’t appear to care about the 1.1 million deaths related to COVID-19.

The far-right, mainly White Christian nationalists, love a poster child, and he checks off every box that you would expect from them: young, visible in the media, and outspoken in his Christian beliefs. He’s Catholic and would probably be getting more momentum if he were Evangelical, but again, he fits the bill, at least for now. I would bet my next paycheck that one of the many anti-LGBTQ+ think tanks or interest groups, such as The Heritage Foundation or Family Research Council, spoon-fed him that speech, and he obliged their request to deliver it. He has gone viral and got what he wanted, which was backlash from the left. Now, the far right is saying this is yet another example of Christians being persecuted for their faith. I’m sure he’ll get a lot of speaking gigs among the Evangelical circuit, especially as the presidential election starts to rev up here in a few months, but I think his fifteen minutes of fame will come and go quickly. 

As Fay Dunaway has consistently vocalized her regret that she took on the role of Joan Crawford, I think years from now, Harrison Butker will look back and regret his performance at Benedictine College. Mainly because when you’re a poster child, your fame can end in a minute, especially if skeletons get drug out of your closet or you get caught engaging in the same behavior you decry in the media. Or, you simply become yesterday’s news when something better comes along and steals your thunder. Or you just don’t have the intestinal fortitude and potential some people thought they saw in you.  If anything, his performance is a great reminder of the dangers that White Christian nationalists can pose. They often promote authoritarianism, demonize LGBTQ+ people, deny science, and are intolerant of other religions, just to name a few of their vices. The best part of the speech is that he tried to troll Taylor Swift, and she apparently couldn’t care less. Better luck next time, Mr. Butker. If there is one.