BALTIMORE – A famed player from this year’s Baltimore Ravens football team recently turned down an invitation to the White House, citing his disappointment with Barack Obama’s pro-abortion policies.
Matt Birk, a 6’4”, 310-pound center for the Ravens, has played professional football for the past 15 years, and has participated in six Pro Bowl competitions. Since the Baltimore Ravens were Super Bowl champions earlier this year, Birk and all his teammates were invited to the White House for an exclusive meeting with the President on Wednesday.
However, Birk boldly declined the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, saying he strongly disagrees with Obama’s stance on abortion, especially when it comes to the administration’s support of Planned Parenthood—the largest abortion provider in the country.
“Planned Parenthood performs about 330,000 abortions a year,” Birk explained in a radio interview on Thursday. “I am active in the pro-life movement, and I just felt like I couldn’t deal with that. I couldn’t endorse that in any way.”
Birk, who officially retired from the NFL at the end of the last season, specifically mentioned his concern with a speech Obama gave at a Planned Parenthood event in April. At the end of the speech, he stated: “Thank you, Planned Parenthood. God bless you.”
“I’m very confused by [the President’s] statement,” Birk remarked. “For God to bless a place where they’re ending 330,000 lives a year? I just chose not to attend.”
This was not the first time Birk—a Catholic and a married father of six—has made attention-generating statements, however. In October of last year, he wrote an opinion piece for Minnesota’s Star Tribune, in which he firmly voiced his support for Biblical marriage, saying marriage redefinition is harmful to children.
“The effects of no-fault divorce, adultery, and the nonchalant attitude toward marriage by some have done great harm to this sacred institution,” Birk wrote. “How much longer do we put the desires of adults before the needs of kids? Why are we not doing more to lift up and strengthen the institution of marriage?”
Also in October 2012, Birk created a brief video for the Minnesota Catholic Conference, in which he detailed why Biblical marriage is worth supporting and defending.
“Our culture today of moral relativism attacks marriage,” he stated, “but marriage is a foundation of our society and it’s definitely something worth fighting for. … We need to fight and preserve it, for our sake [and] for our children’s sake. … I believe this is God’s will, to stand up and fight for one of the gifts he blessed us with.”
Like his outspoken statements on the marriage debate, Birk’s decision to boycott the White House trip have generated plenty of feedback. In particular, dozens of commenters have joined the debate on the website of Minneapolis/St. Paul’s KFAN, which is the sports radio station that first aired Birk’s comments on the abortion issue.
“Just lost some respect for Matty B,” one reader commented. “His opinion on a political issue is not the issue to me. This is a celebration of a championship. Be part of the team. The White House visit [is] an honor. He, and others in the past, are using this for a selfish press opp.”
However, another applauded Birk’s courage.
“God bless Matt for standing up and making a statement despite its unpopularity with secular society,” they wrote.