A little more than two months from now, NFL quarterback Tim Tebow was scheduled to speak about his well-documented faith at First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. Given his willingness to preach openly and on the record and his history of similar appearances, nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary when he first booked the gig, but in recent weeks, some information about the head pastor of the eleven thousand plus member mega-church has come to light. In response, Tebow cancelled the gig this morning, but now observers are wondering whether it was because he was sickened by the information itself or didn’t want to deal with the controversy.
The information in question is a series of comments made by First Baptist Church head pastor Dr. Robert Jeffress. He reportedly estimated seventy percent of the gay population has AIDS and said numerous other religions including Mormonism, Islam and Judaism were conceived in the pits of hell.
Here’s the official cancellation statement Tebow tweeted…
”While I was looking forward to sharing a message of hope and Christ's unconditional love with the faithful members of the historic First Baptist Church of Dallas in April, due to new information that has been brought to my attention, I have decided to cancel my upcoming appearance. I will continue to use the platform God has blessed me with to bring Faith, Hope and Love to all those needing a brighter day. Thank you for all of your love and support. God Bless!”
The real question on people’s minds is whether the “new information” is a reference to Tebow finding out Dr. Jeffress said those things, or whether it’s a reference to finding out the media would get so hot and bothered about them. If the Church is to be believed, it’s most definitely the latter. Here’s a portion of the official statement…
"We are saddened that Mr. Tebow felt pressure to back out of his long-planned commitment from numerous New York and national sports and news media who grossly misrepresented past comments made by our pastor, Dr. Robert Jeffress, specifically related to issues of homosexuality and AIDS, as well as Judaism."
The Church claims Tebow told them he didn’t want to deal with the fallout from speaking at the Church but hopes he’ll be able to go at some point in the future. Whether or not he actually said that, said it and didn’t mean it or said it and absolutely meant it is unclear, however.
Here’s to hoping the next place Tim decides to speak at proves to be a little less controversial.