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Tim Tebow pulls out of speaking at Dallas church
February 21st, 2013
10:40 AM ET

Tim Tebow pulls out of speaking at Dallas church

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - NFL quarterback Tim Tebow has canceled an appearance at a controversial Dallas-area church. The outspoken Christian quarterback was scheduled to speak at First Baptist Church on April 28.

The church is led by Robert Jeffress, who has been widely criticized for views against homosexuality, Islam and Mormonism. Tebow, announcing his decision Thursday on Twitter, said that he was canceling his appearance “due to new information that has been brought to my attention.”

Tebow’s statement appeared over a series of four tweets on the social media site.

“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!” he wrote to his Twitter followers.

Tebow was scheduled to speak at the 11,000-member Dallas church as part of a monthlong celebration of the megachurch’s completion of a new building campaign, a $130 million dollar project that encompasses five blocks of the downtown.

“Tim called me last night and explained to me that because of some things going on in his personal life and his career he needed to steer clear of controversy right now, but that at some other date he would like to come and speak at our church,” Jeffress told CNN by phone from Dallas.  “Tim has to do what Tim thinks is best for him right now.”

The First Baptist Church of Dallas is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention.  Jeffress, who has been in its pulpit since 2007, is no stranger to controversy.

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After introducing Texas Gov. Rick Perry at the Values Voter Summit in Washington in October 2011, Jeffress told reporters he believed Mormonism was a cult, expressing a personal position and one held by his denomination.  The move was seen as a particular slight to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a lifelong Mormon.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, while acknowledging sharp theological differences with the Southern Baptist Convention, bristles at the term cult and says it is inaccurate.

Jeffress has also drawn fire for his comments about homosexuality, Judiasm and Catholicism.

“This in no way is going to diminish what our church is teaching about salvation being available to all through faith in Jesus Christ,” Jeffress said.

Jeffress pointed out that Tebow is a member of the First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, a fellow SBC church.

“They certainly believe what we do, that salvation is through Christ alone, and about homosexuality.  Tim confirmed that to me last night, that they believe exactly what we do about homosexuality.”

Tebow and Jeffress differ dramatically in how they present their faith.  Tebow in talking about his faith has used much softer language, while Jeffress has no trouble going after less popular and culturally sensitive issues in Christianity.

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“I believe that homosexuality is a sin just like adultery is a sin, just like I believe premarital sex is a sin, because it’s a deviation from God’s standard,” Jeffress said.

“God’s plan for sex is that is should be between a man and a woman in a marriage relationship and any deviation from that is wrong.”

While he believes any sex outside a heterosexual marriage is wrong, he adds, “I never single out homosexuality as the only sin or the unpardonable sin. I think homosexuality, just like adultery, can be forgiven if we ask God for forgiveness.”

Jeffress said he thinks there is a genetic disposition toward homosexuality, a stance on sexual orientation taken by many theologically conservative Christians and one scorned as scientifically flawed by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Jeffress said he is sure there are gay members in his church.  “We don’t ask all the gay members to stand up, but I’m sure that there are people who are gay in our church simply because of the letters I have received,” he said.  “We have people who’ve committed adultery and who lie and who steal, but that doesn’t mean they’re not welcome to come to our church.”

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As for comments about Mormons, Jews and Catholics, he is quick to point out that he believes “no one goes to hell in a group.”

“I’m not the one who decides who goes to heaven and hell. God does that. God has already given us the criteria for what it takes to go to heaven when you die. Jesus said in John 14:6, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life, and no man comes to the father except through me.’  When I quote that verse I like to remind people that Jesus who said that was not a Southern Baptist evangelist but a Jewish rabbi. Yet as a Jewish rabbi he said there is one way to heaven, and that is through faith in me.”

The controversy surrounding Tebow’s appearance won’t dampen the church’s plans, Jeffress said. He said Tebow, while escaping the spotlight now over his beliefs, will continue to face controversy.

“I think Tim is going to discover that no matter how hard you try to hide from controversy, if you stand for the simple truths of the Bible, like faith in Christ, necessary for salvation, and sex (being acceptable only) between a man and a woman in marriage, you can't avoid controversy.  That’s something Tim needs to discover on his own.  We in no way want to impugn him.  He’s a great man of God who sincerely loves the Lord.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Baptist • Christianity • Church

soundoff (2,828 Responses)
  1. Tom

    Good for him. I got to admit that I was shocked that he made the decision, but sure am pleased.

    February 21, 2013 at 11:47 am |
  2. christfollower

    Maybe Tebow needs to read his Bible more....FBD is and very good church and Bible Believing. I am so tired of the Political Correct crowd. You cant be politically correct if you bash others who do not believe as you do....grow up big bunch of brats.

    February 21, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @christfollower
      He is likely distancing himself from the venomous tirades spewed from that particular church's fiery pulpits.
      Baptists are not known for their tolerance, compassion or humility – but they are known for using scripture to justify all manner of hate.
      When the American south was forced to rescind Jim Crow laws and accept racial integration, it was Baptists who most strongly opposed equality.
      Wallie Criswell, an extremely popular and influential Southern Baptist Minister famously said "Let them integrate! Let them sit up there in their dirty shirts and make all their fine speeches. But they are all a bunch of infidels, dying from the neck up."
      Scarcely half a century later, the zeitgeist has shifted so radically that such open racism is considered abhorrent to the very same Christian sect that spouted scripture to justify insti.tutionalized bigotry.
      I fervently hope that the prevailing Baptist condemnation of ho.mose.xuality will soon be viewed with the same sense of shame that the memory of segregation elicits.

      February 21, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • Michael

      Jeffress and his supporters have more in common with the philosophy of the KKK than anything Jesus ever taught.

      February 21, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • Brian Ellis

      Um...hypocritical much??? You just bashed people who don't believe as you do...How about you get to believe what you want and everyone else (including Tim Tebow) get to believe what they want? It's called "freedom".

      February 21, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • mp

      Unfortunately, FBD is a hate mongering church in the city of Dallas. There are plenty of churches that don't subscribe to such a narrow understanding of what it means to be Christian.

      February 21, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • Dan Halen

      Re-read your post and then re-read the information about this church. You'll find you are a hypocrite.

      February 21, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • Elperro

      Dude, Tebow has the bible memorized, and deserves credit for avoiding organizations that "hate in the name of Christ."

      February 21, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • Ed

      The people you accuse are acting like responsible grown ups by refraining from bashing minorities. Can you please do so as well?

      February 21, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • Doobs

      Um...hypocritical much??? You just bashed people who don't believe as you do...How about you get to believe what you want and everyone else (including Tim Tebow) get to believe what they want? It's called "freedom".

      When you try to have your religious beliefs encoded into civil law, and deny others the same rights that you enjoy, it's not called freedom. It's called bigotry, and it is not hypocritical to call it out.

      February 21, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • Johnny Caruso

      The Bible, the greatest lies ever told.

      February 21, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • John

      Ummmmm Christfollower,

      There's a tremendous difference between a Christian who strives to live his/her life according to the gospel and spread the good news to all willing to listen and those who seek to demonize others for the sake of appearing "holier than thou." Jeffries engages in the latter and it is quite shameful. Tebow has many platforms supported by believers; thus, if he has been informed of Jeffries hypocritical ways why NOT seek to spread your message elsewhere. Don't be so blinded by faith you forget to think. Being a good Christian is NOT synoymous with being a robot! Be a Berean for once and don't just accept what you hear from another human being as gospel without you investigating for yourself. #endrant

      God bless

      February 21, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • sam stone

      "You cant be politically correct if you bash others who do not believe as you do....grow up big bunch of brats."

      Didn't the article say that the minister bashed gays, mormons and muslims?

      grow up?

      get off your knees

      February 21, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • K-switch

      You didn't capitilze "Christ" , in your name, christfollower, shame on you.

      February 21, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • walbur

      You're not a follower of Jesus, you're a follower of bigot's who believe like you do. I'm so tired of bigot's, racist's using religion to further their hate agenda.

      February 21, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
    • Mike

      Michael...What Pastor Jefrees knows is that some day, probably sooner than later, history is going to come to a screeching halt...That will be the day when all of us, regardless of what we believe, will have to stand before a holy righteous judge. God is a loving God, But He's also a holy God who hates sin. God's love and justice were both demonstrated on the cross of Calvary. Many blessings

      February 21, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
  3. zodiac

    Don't know why the hate for this young man. He probably goes over the top with his faith but he is a person that lives a life and believes in his words. Do you prefer the guys that smack around girlfriends, get dwi's. and get busted for drugs. Maybe you would like him if he carries a loaded gun in a nightclub. Pathetic.

    February 21, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • Reasonably

      Maybe we would like him if he stopped wearing his faith on his sleeve and thinking he invented and can copywrite a touchdown move. He's a dig-me who is committing one of the seven deadly sins regularly so put that in your evangelical pipe and smoke it.

      February 21, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • Scott N

      Zodiac, unfortunately too many people in this country have no moral compass and they are very resentful and critical of those that do have a moral compass.

      February 21, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • zodiac

      Reasonably-if all it is about is touchdowns than you go celebrate all the jerks in sports. i don't smoke nor do I have a pipe-you should grab yours and enjoy a smoke with your heros.

      February 21, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • Excitizen

      I don't hate the guy, but what really irks me is this thanking god for every touchdown; like god lets children die but makes sure TB gets his touchdowns. If god was all that involved or existed at all – don't you think he would drive killers off the road before they arrive at a school or theater to murder as many people as possible based on the presumably thousands of prayers said in the US everyday for less gun violence and death of innocent people and children???? No, god is obviously more concerned with his football career. Give me a break!

      February 21, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • Altec

      Eh. Why would we expect the heathens to not act like heathens?

      February 21, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
  4. Michael

    I'm not a big Tebow fan, but I respect him for this decision. Jeffress used to be a preacher here and we're glad to be rid of him! He ran off to Dallas for the $$$, which is really the only thing he cares about. He spews the hateful rhetoric so that it will get him a lot of attention and draw in like minded people to give him buckets of money that many of them can't even afford to give him. He's a true moocher and con artist if ever there was one.

    February 21, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • Reality Check

      Of course he's a moocher and con artist. Those are synonyms for religious leader.

      February 21, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Julia

      I agree, we must live in the same town because I know what town you are speaking of! He's a moocher and a hypocrite.

      February 21, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
  5. dontreadthis

    He cancelled because it became an issue – no doubt his beliefs align with the "church" he was going to speak at. Sadly, freedom of speech applies to these hate groups (mega churches, etc.) also.

    February 21, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • Jay

      "No doubt his beliefs align with the church"? Where did you get that? All I know is what's in this article, and I can't say that. My guess is that you're in exactly the same position.

      February 21, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • Marsh

      They didn't exactly quote Tebow much in this article. Neither you nor I really know exactly what he believes. So you really can't say his beliefs align with the church. For all we know, Pastor Jeffress could be either lying or wrong when he says that Tebow's church believes what they believe. However, I would like to point out that in the article, the pastor says that his church is an FBD church. His church is part of the chain. Maybe his beliefs align with the church. Maybe he's having some doubts. Don't know. You could only know by asking Tebow.

      March 12, 2013 at 11:38 am |
  6. siren4song

    ba1450–how does one impact the other? Take a good look at his picture above. Isn't that what your real problem is? Does your girlfriend gush about him? Tim Tebow doesn't NEED an NFL career. He enjoys football so he plays football. And he did a heck of a job here in Denver in spite of the lack of support. God has bigger plans for Tim although I'm sure you wouln't know that.

    February 21, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • Science

      Oops poof there goes god(s) and the pope.

      Engineering 'Ghost' Objects: Breakthrough in Scattering Illusion

      Feb. 19, 2013 — A team at the NUS Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering led by Dr Qiu Cheng-Wei has come out with an optical device to "engineer" ghosts.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130219090643.htm

      Peace

      February 21, 2013 at 11:45 am |
  7. Mark in Omaha

    Ya can't claim to be a Christian and be a hater...good decision T-bone

    February 21, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • RobertOKUSA

      Actually, the Christian Bible is full of "hate:"

      http://www.thethinkingatheist*com/page/bible-atrocities

      February 21, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • Altec

      Actually, everyone is full of hate.

      February 21, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
  8. JeffM

    Guess he realized the irony of one of the country's biggest closet cases speaking there.

    February 21, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • WordUpToo

      hee hee, good one.

      February 21, 2013 at 11:50 am |
  9. cwgmpls

    Tibow can't have it both ways. Tibow can't build up a career as a "Christian" speaker by catering to and emboldening pockets of hate, and then quietly slink away when he encounters the hate, that he himself helps create, directly. Instead, Tibow and other Christians have a responsibility to speak out against hate in all forms. Even hate that originates in Christian churches. Sure, his reputation among the far-right will go down a few notches, and he might not sell as many books to them. But taking on hate directly would raise Tibow's stature among the general public, and might even help rescue the church that he loves, that some on the far right seem intent on destroying.

    February 21, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • RobertOKUSA

      Problem is, the Christian Bible is full of hate. Christians are just following what their religion teaches them!

      http://www.thethinkingatheist*com/page/bible-atrocities

      February 21, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • Altec

      @RobertOKUSA

      Thinking atheist? Is your brain intelligently designed?

      February 21, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
  10. Rosslaw

    The NFL was sweating bullets. They really did not want to risk alienating those beer- swilling Mormons and risk losing a beer sponsor.

    February 21, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Mormons aren't allowed to consume any mind-altering substances, including alcohol.

      February 21, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • Reasonably

      What's the best way to get a mormon to leave your house?

      Hide your beer.

      February 21, 2013 at 11:45 am |
  11. Al

    SO?

    February 21, 2013 at 11:37 am |
  12. Science

    Oops poof there goes god(s) and the pope.

    Engineering 'Ghost' Objects: Breakthrough in Scattering Illusion

    Feb. 19, 2013 — A team at the NUS Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering led by Dr Qiu Cheng-Wei has come out with an optical device to "engineer" ghosts.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130219090643.htm

    Peace

    February 21, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • Reasonably

      They won't go *poof* and disappear – there's too much money to be made.

      February 21, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • Reason

      @ Science – You obviously didn't read the article you cited.

      February 21, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • Science

      Love to have the New tool though to make that ghost or spirit

      February 21, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
  13. Brandon

    C'mon Tebow. It's 2013. You should have at least Googled them first.

    February 21, 2013 at 11:34 am |
  14. Martin Angell

    A lot of Christian bashers here.

    Well, about 100 of the first 104 colleges and universities in America were Christian-based. If you were born in a hospital, in all likelihood it was sponsored by a Christian body of faithful believers–Presbyterian, Catholic, Baptist, Episcopal or Methodist. If you enjoy religious liberty, freedom of speech or the right to assembly you can thank Christian believers for that because that is what they fought for in establishing America. The people who founded America believed those things in the face of tyrants in other countries past, present and future who opposed such things.

    February 21, 2013 at 11:33 am |
    • K-switch

      If you want state run religion, get your b!tch-@ss back on the mayflower and convert to Anglicanism. Even though the pilgrims were Christians, they came here to escape oppression imposed by Christians.

      February 21, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • Huh?

      Well you can also thank the Christians for killing and stealing the land from the Native Americans. Oh, and don't forget they kidnapped and enslaved african Americans to build this country. Oh...and then there is how they treated women like dirt. Oh...and don't forget all the innocent women they burned as witches.

      Oh...that's why we have separation of church and state so nut jobs like you can't use your religion to make laws.

      February 21, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • Don Piano

      No

      February 21, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      The primary reason they seperated church and state was because of the differences in the founding fathers beliefs. They could not agree on which belief system to go with, so decided no religion in government to be the only fair way to go.

      Do not think for a second that they were united in their beliefs.

      February 21, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • meifumado

      learn about our founding fathers ,they were not to big on religion.

      February 21, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • Cara

      There is SOOOOOOOOOOO much inaccuracy in your statement it is MIND BOGGLING. I am so sick of people talking about our supposed CHRISTIAN HERITAGE when a simple search for all (not just the ones christians like) statements by the founders reveal they were for RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, not CHRISTIAN FREEDOM. Jefferson had a bible, that he ripped out all the pages of, what he considered non-sense, and kept just the logical statements.

      February 21, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • Reasonably

      History lesson fail.

      February 21, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • Reality Check

      If you want to live in a religious state, move to Saudi Arabia or any of its neighbors. Go get a taste of what it means to live under the boot of God's law as interpreted and enforced by zealots. The US doesn't need that; no matter what religion is in charge.

      February 21, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • Grundoon

      Those that framed the consitution were Free Masons and many not devout in any way shape or form. Here's an argument presented at the time the consistution was being written:

      It makes no different if my neighbor says there is not god or that there are 20 gods. It niether picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

      Thomas Jefferson

      February 21, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
  15. Nietodarwin

    I hope he stays celibate and never has children. I hope he's never allowed around children to share his stupid xstian delusions. Forcing a child into a RELIGION IS CHILD ABUSE.

    February 21, 2013 at 11:33 am |
    • Christianity is a form of SEVERE mental illness

      Dont worry he is g@y

      February 21, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • Scott N

      Not teaching your children about God is child abuse.

      February 21, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • Reasonably

      @Scott N: which god? There are so many to choose from.

      February 21, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Scott N is correct. It would be child abuse not to teach your children that god, the jesus myth and religion are 100% bullsh!t. It's child abuse in the extreme to indoctrinate them from birth into their parent's cult.

      February 21, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Ditto

      Right back at you. Raising children in atheism is just as abusive. I bet you tell your kids about Santa. At least you had better not. There is a laundry list of reasons why raising a kid in atheism is just as "abusive." But because I know you will not care I will save my fingers.

      February 21, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • Ditto

      At hotair: you wrote, HotAirAce
      Scott N is correct. It would be child abuse not to teach your children that god, the jesus myth and religion are 100% bullsh!t. It's child abuse in the extreme to indoctrinate them from birth into their parent's cult."

      It is ironic that YOU can indoctrinate YOUR children in YOUR beliefs and it is acceptable. Someone else does it and it is abuse. Why not raise your kids in a way in which ALL sides are discussed and presented, allowing your children to believe what THEY want and not what YOU want them to believe. If the Christian indoctrinates their children then so does the atheist...and others. It is called raising children. Another irony: all these liberals and atheist arguing for freedom and choice, tolerance and respect, but only when it applies to their views and worldview. Where is the respect and tolerance of the Christian in your comment? Nice double standard. Typical and not surprising though. A prime example to show my children of how not to think and how not to behave towards others. Why Christian dad? Well, let me show you all of these comments as a representation of what atheism has to offer the world.

      February 21, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Raising children in atheism is just as abusive' –
      interesting argument. Not mentioning god is child abuse huh?

      'There is a laundry list of reasons why raising a kid in atheism is just as "abusive." But because I know you will not care I will save my fingers.'
      no, no, do try and convince us, else we will just assume you have jack and are just spouting off.

      'It is ironic that YOU can indoctrinate YOUR children in YOUR beliefs and it is acceptable. Someone else does it and it is abuse. Why not raise your kids in a way in which ALL sides are discussed and presented, allowing your children to believe what THEY want and not what YOU want them to believe. If the Christian indoctrinates their children then so does the atheist...and others'
      You dont seem to grasp an atheist household. We dont sit the children down and teach them that god is bull and they must be atheist. We dont mention god, thats it, we dont put one side forward and claim the other is wrong. We let them decide for themselves what they want to believe as they get older and do their own exploring. We avoid trying to indoctrinate our kids to believe one way or another at a young age.

      'Typical and not surprising though. A prime example to show my children of how not to think and how not to behave towards others. Why Christian dad? Well, let me show you all of these comments as a representation of what atheism has to offer the world.'
      Is the irony of the hate you showed in that part of the post lost on you? So much for christian love and forgiveness.

      February 21, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • God Fearing

      Child abuse is teaching a child liberalism, as spewed by King Obama and his Leftist LOONS! Liberalisism is a mental illness and results in MURDER of the unborn!!

      February 21, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @God Fearing

      YEA! Give us more sensationalist bullshit from the pathetic quivering mass of hate (AKA Limbaugh). Because we all know FOX is the only "real" news source.
      Or you could do something useful and get some professional mental help.

      February 21, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      A lot of anger being shown by the delusional believers here. . .

      My children have not been indoctrinated in any way. They have been brought up to be critical thinkers. They have chosen not to belong to any religious cult.

      I respect the right of everyone to believe whatever they like. I don't have to, and do not, respect what they believe. There is no evidence – none, zip, nada – for any god, the divine jesus myth or that The Babble is the word of any god. Go ahead – prove me wrong!

      February 22, 2013 at 12:48 am |
  16. common sense

    Translation: I don't want any of the stink from this group of bigots on me

    February 21, 2013 at 11:33 am |
  17. massconn72

    I guess he isn't as stupid as I thought!

    February 21, 2013 at 11:33 am |
  18. Sara Howells

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcyW7rMYR7A&w=640&h=390]

    February 21, 2013 at 11:32 am |
    • meifumado

      I can still see Uranus, Sara.

      February 21, 2013 at 11:39 am |
  19. ba1450

    The "new information" was that this could hurt whatever he has left of an NFL career.

    February 21, 2013 at 11:28 am |
  20. MaryM

    Good decision Tebow.

    February 21, 2013 at 11:27 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.