Tebow cancels appearance at Dallas megachurch

So word came down this morning that God’s quarterback, Tim Tebow is backing out of a speaking engagement at First Baptist Dallas Church in Dallas, Tex.

Tim Tebow speaks at the John Lynch Foundation Salute the Stars scholarship luncheon at Invesco Field at Mile High in May 2011. (John Leyba, The Denver Post)

Why is that newsworthy? Because some controversy erupted once word got out about the April 28 speaking date.

It seem the Rev. Robert Jeffress doesn’t care much for other religions or homosexuality and his comments have drawn outrage in recent years.

That’s fine. This is America, after all, and you can worship at the Church of the Spaghetti Monster if you wish.

You just can’t take a driver’s license photo with a spaghetti strainer on your head in New Jersey. But that’s another story altogether.

Here is Tebow’s explanation for backing out:

“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!”

Sorry, Tim Tebow, but I am not with you on this. I have been a Tebow supporter up until recently.

But his comments at the end of last season struck a disingenuous cord with me. First, he was OK with the Jets passing him over for their starting QB position, then just as quickly, he was angry. This led ESPN analyst Merrill Hoge to call Tebow “phony as a three-dollar bill.”

I really have to agree that the whole episode is making Tebow look like just another camera-conscious athlete.

Now we have this speaking engagement reversal. As readers of this blog know, I might take you to task if you plan to take a controversial stand with which I don’t agree, but I will respect your right to do so.

What I don’t respect is jumping into the fray, then running away from the fire once it gets too hot. If you believe in what Rev. Jeffress stands for, Tim Tebow, then honor your commitment and speak at his church.

Don’t run away and hide until things die down. And if you’re claiming that you really didn’t know what Jeffress stands for, then I am really questioning your Christian bonofides.

For the record, Jeffress has said Muslims practice a religion that came from the depths of hell and “promote pedophilia.” He has said Mormonism is a cult that should have disqualified Mitt Romney from the 2012 election.

The pastor’s thoughts on homosexuality: “[It] is perverse, it represents a degradation of a person’s mind.”

The church sent me the following press statement on Tebow’s cancellation:

The leaders and congregation of First Baptist Church Dallas are disappointed that New York Jets’ Quarterback Tim Tebow today has announced he will no longer speak at First Baptist Church Dallas on April 28, 2013, as part of the month-long celebration events surrounding the grand opening of our new $130 million, state-of-the-art campus on Easter Sunday.

Mr Tebow called Dr. Jeffress Wednesday evening saying that for personal and professional reasons he needed to avoid controversy at this time, but would like to come to First Baptist Dallas to speak at a future date.

We are saddened that Mr. Tebow felt pressure to back out of his long-planned commitment to First Baptist Dallas 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.

As a Christian pastor, Dr. Jeffress takes a biblical approach to moral and social issues, closely following his duty to preach ‘the whole counsel of God,’ and not just address issues that are politically correct. First Baptist is a church built on the truth of Scripture, even though at times that approach can be perceived as controversial or counter to the prevailing winds of culture.

The reason for the recent media firestorm is not because the Word of God has changed, but because society has changed.

More important, contrary to editorializing in the media, Dr. Jeffress shares a message of hope, not hate; salvation, not judgment; and a Gospel of God’s love, grace and new beginnings available to all.

About John Hilton

I grew up in Susquehanna County, Pa. and graduated Syracuse University with a dual degree in journalism/political science in 1998. After working for nearly three years for a weekly paper in upstate New York, I came to southcentral Pennsylvania. I spent 13 years as a reporter and editor for The Sentinel in Carlisle and joined the York Daily Record as religion reporter in September 2011.
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