New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow canceled his speaking appearance at First Baptist Dallas on Thursday, February 21. Tebow was scheduled so speak on April 28, during the morning of a Sunday worship service held by pastor Robert Jeffress, who has a long standing reputation for being an anti-Semitic figure.
In 2011, Jeffress told the world in a summit that Jews were ticketed for eternal damnation. That same year, in an interview with the Trinity Broadcasting Network, he mimicked a similar sentiment: “You can’t be saved being a Jew, you know who said that by the way, the three greatest Jews in the New Testament, Peter, Paul, and Jesus Christ, they all said Judaism won’t do it, it’s faith in Jesus Christ.”
To be fair, it’s not just Jews that rub Robert Jeffress the wrong way, as the pastor also said Mormonism and Islam originated in “heresy from the pit of Hell.” He called Mormonism a cult and told an audience that it should disqualify 2012 GOP candidate Mitt Romney from being President. Oh, he also criticized the Roman Catholic Church as “the genius of Satan” and “corrupted” by cults, so as it seems no religion is immune to his sound offs.
In his own defense, Jeffress said last week that the First Baptist was being “mischaracterized as a hate church,” and that the church’s principles were in line with biblical Christian beliefs. The now notorious pastor also told the Associated Press that Tebow said he would like to speak at First Baptist in the future, but “needed to avoid controversy right now for personal and professional reasons.”
“We had planned for him to speak very positively about the difference Jesus Christ had made in his life,” he added.
As for Tebow himself, he sent out a series of tweets Thursday to announce his decision:
“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!”
Just why the heartthrob had a drastic change of heart remains a mystery. Perhaps it wasn’t him, but the powers that be (a good PR team) that nipped this one in the bud for him. But assuming that it was Tebow himself who ultimately voted against the appearance, many are already quick to criticize the athlete for not bailing on Jeffress and coming out with a stronger statement against the church.