Tim Tebow — not so long ago a marketing sensation for the National Football League who spent last year’s season mostly on the New York Jets’ bench — has decided that discretion is the better part of association with a controversial Baptist preacher in Dallas.
Tebow, the quarterback known for his commitment to Christianity, canceled a planned April 28 appearance at a mega-church presided over by the Rev. Robert Jeffress, known for his frequent denunciations of homosexuality. Political junkies, though, may recall Jeffress in a different context.
At a “Values Voter Summit” in Washington in October 2011 that served as a pitstop for several of the then-Republican presidential contenders, Jeffress caused a stir by terming Mitt Romney “a good moral person, but someone who is part of a cult” and was “not a Christian” because of his Mormon faith.
Jeffress had introduced Rick Perry at the gathering, and his “cult” comment to reporters later that day was one of the series of political mishaps that plagued the Texas governor’s ill-fated White House bid.
Perry was forced on the defensive as Romney, the eventual Republican nominee, pushed him to distance himself from the Jeffress remark. Jon Huntsman Jr., another of the Republican candidates who also is a Mormon, was blunt in his assessment of Jeffress; he called him a “moron.”
The event two months from now that Tebow was to speak at celebrates a multi-million dollar expansion of Jeffress’ church into a complex covering 500,ooo square feet. Tebow took to Twitter yesterday to message: “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.”
Tebow, 25, didn’t specify the “new information” he had gleaned.
Aside from past declarations from Jeffress that homosexuality is “perverse” and his comments about Mormonism, the reverend has referred to Catholicism as an offshoot of a “Babylonian mystery religion.” And Islam, he has claimed, “promotes pedophilia.”