Patricia Heaton Defends Harrison Butker Amid Commencement Speech Backlash

‘He’s not a monster for stating what he believes,’ the actress said.
Patricia Heaton Defends Harrison Butker Amid Commencement Speech Backlash
Patricia Heaton attends the 2019 CBS Upfront at The Plaza in New York City on May 15, 2019. (Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images)
Audrey Enjoli

Actress Patricia Heaton, best known for her role on the hit sitcom “Everybody Loves Raymond,” has come to the defense of Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker following the backlash he has received for his commencement speech earlier this month.

“The Middle” star recently took to social media to weigh in on the NFL player’s remarks, made on May 11 at Benedictine College, a private Catholic school in Atchison, Kansas.

“I don’t understand why everybody’s knickers are in a twist,” she said in a short clip shared to her Instagram account on May 18. “Everybody just calm down,” Ms. Heaton captioned alongside the video.

“The audience applauded twice during the speech and gave him a standing ovation at the end, so clearly they enjoyed what he was saying. The guy is espousing his own opinions and Catholic doctrine,” the 66-year-old continued. “It’s his opinion. He can have one. He’s allowed. He’s not a monster for stating what he believes.”

During his 20-minute speech, Mr. Butker touched upon many topics. Among them, he rallied against those pushing gender ideology on America’s youth, criticized COVID-19 lockdown measures, and lambasted President Joe Biden, who is also Catholic, for his views on abortion.

The 28-year-old also encouraged the young female graduates to get married and start families, intimating that they would be more fulfilled in their roles as wives and mothers.

“How many of you are sitting here now about to cross this stage and are thinking about all the promotions and titles you are going to get in your career? 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,” he recited.

Mr. Butker credited his wife, Isabelle, for “living her vocation as a wife and as a mother,” noting that this has allowed him to be the man he is today.

He continued: “I’m beyond blessed with the many talents God has given me, but it cannot be overstated that all of my success is made possible because a girl I met in band class back in middle school would convert to the faith, become my wife, and embrace one of the most important titles of all: homemaker.”

‘I Find Nothing Offensive’

Ms. Heaton—who shares four sons with her husband, British actor David Hunt, whom she wed in 1990—reiterated that she found nothing objectionable about Mr. Butker’s speech, despite the fact that she decided to pursue a career outside of the home.

“I am a Catholic woman who worked through my kids’ childhood, and I believe that God opened those doors for me. And, thankfully, it was a schedule that allowed me to also be a full-time mom,” she shared.

“I find nothing offensive about what he said, even though my life is very different. And he might even look at my life and say, ‘That’s not the way it should be.’ That’s OK. That’s his opinion,” Ms. Heaton said. “God has used my life, so I’m just curious as to why people get offended.

“If you have made choices in your life, and you feel those are the right choices, and you’re comfortable, and they’re working out for you and your family—great,” she added. “And if they’re different from his, that’s great. You do you, and he'll do him and his family. Relax, everybody.”

Calling Out the Clergy

In defense of the kicker, Ms. Heaton acknowledged that Mr. Butker denounced the actions of many clergy members. “He went after bishops much more than he went after women, or what women’s choices are, or what he thinks they should be,” she offered. “So, I don’t understand.”

Throughout his speech, the three-time Super Bowl winner criticized some Catholic bishops and priests for “misleading their flocks.”

“Our Catholic faith has always been countercultural. Our Lord, along with countless followers, were all put to death for their adherence to her teachings. The world around us says that we should keep our beliefs to ourselves whenever they go against the tyranny of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We fear speaking truth, because now, unfortunately, truth is in the minority,” Mr. Butker asserted.

“But make no mistake, before we even attempt to fix any of the issues plaguing society, we must first get our own house in order, and it starts with our leaders,” he said. “The bishops and priests appointed by God as our spiritual fathers must be rightly ordered.”

Audrey is a freelance entertainment reporter for The Epoch Times based in Southern California. She is a seasoned writer and editor whose work has appeared in Deseret News, Evie Magazine, and Yahoo Entertainment, among others. She holds a B.A. from the University of Central Florida where she double majored in broadcast journalism and political science.