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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.

CNN Belief Blog: Quarterback moves to trademark 'Tebowing'

“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.”

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

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. jamessavik

    Tebow should concentrate on reading defenses.

    February 21, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
  2. ritmocojo

    Best call he's made since his days with the Broncs.

    February 21, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
  3. Gregory Adamson

    For those talking about what Jesus stood for and taught – we really dont know what Jesus said. We only know what the bible says Jesus said. Remember the bible was writen by men of the catholic church. From the massive research I have done personally, many words were most likely placed in the bible that were put there simply to deliver a message which were not the actual words of anyone but the priests putting together the bible.

    February 21, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • Reason and Logic

      If ' they' say it must not be true

      February 21, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Gregory: "massive" research? sounds like you've missed some basics...

      a) there were no priests at the outset. if anything, Peter calls all Christians priests (1 Pet.2:9).

      b) the "Catholic" church as you conceive of it didn't exist as a politically able enti.ty until well after all the NT was written (they couldn't even gather publicly until after Constantine converted in 312).

      c) the three cycles (so far) in the 'quest for the historical Jesus' have very clearly yielded this result: we don't know any other Jesus than the one we have in the oldest sources (the NT). everything else risks some form of self-projection. to say the words were "placed" there is to assume you have something else to compare it with.

      d) there was not enough time for a radical shift in the content of Jesus' teaching. most of the NT was written within the lifetime of the eyewitnesses themselves. as Paul writes 1 Corinthians, only 15-20 years after the cross (claiming Jesus appeared to over 500 people at once), his theological framing of Jesus would have been utterly rejected by the many other witnesses to the events if he was fabricating a new Jesus as you assert.

      IN SUM:
      I'd encourage you to read Richard Bauckham's "Jesus & the Eyewitnesses." sounds like you got a heavy dose of Bart Ehrman's overstated case. in that regard, here's a brief article on the reliability of the NT texts...
      http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2012/03/21/an-interview-with-daniel-b-wallace-on-the-new-testament-manuscripts/

      February 21, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
  4. HolierThanThou

    Even the pope knows to bail on the hypocrisy.

    February 21, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • Larry of Nazareth

      Popeferatu is not bailing on the hypocrisy; he is hiding in a luxury coccoon in the middle of it.

      February 21, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
  5. Eric G

    He can try to convince everyone, but lets face it.... That shirt is the gayest thing this side of the volleyball scene in Top Gun.

    February 21, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • Reason and Logic

      A shirt is what maketh a man gay

      February 21, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • Surprise

      You should have seen the casts hot tub party, then again, maybe not.

      February 21, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • Death To Muggles

      The shower scene was better.

      February 21, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • Eric G

      Hey, just because he wears that shirt and spends every sunday on his knees taking the body of another man in his mouth, that doesn't mean that...........uh............well...............hmm.

      February 21, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  6. HolierThanThou

    Funny how these Xians, like Robert Jeffress, ignore the preachings of their "prophet".

    February 21, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • Larry of Nazareth

      That's the kicker: they ALL do. All the Christians posting here violate "turn the other cheek" and "do unto others" and "do not bear false witness". It's perfect hypocrisy. I have yet to meet the Christian who ever tries to follow the rules, much less succeeds. They at best cherry pick a few easy rules, but none of them go the distance.

      Seen the Christian who sold his goods and gave his money to the poor? Or who really did unto others?

      If they spent one tenth the amount of time honestly looking at their own faults and violations of their scripture as they did finding them in others, they would be truly ashamed.

      February 21, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • Reason and Logic

      If they are Christian they must follow ' the' prophet

      February 21, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • Wowsers

      "Reason and Logic" apparently is Muslim, because Jesus is a prophet in Islam, not Christianity.

      Nice thunking, dude.

      February 21, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • Apatheist

      @Larry, they are likly following these rules in their head. My mother is deeply religious and, after a particularly vicious tyrade about my father (they are divorced), I asked about "turning the cheek"... She stated stone that "turning the other cheek" doesn't mean that she shouldn't talk badly about others... She gave the example, should we "turn the other cheek" on Hitler? I left shortly after that. The point is that xtians will
      Anipulate the "scripture" to their suiting.... They all do it.

      February 21, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • Apatheist

      *manipulate... Sorry, pecking away on my phone

      February 21, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • Death To Muggles

      If they are Christian they must follow ' the' prophet

      Profit..

      February 21, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
  7. Imagine No Religion

    Tebow is a has-been just like xianity.

    -–
    "There ain't no jesus gonna come from the sky.
    Now that I found out, I know I can cry." – John Lennon

    February 21, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
  8. clubschadenfreude

    Welll, it seems that Tebow has the sense to back out of dealing with a hateful man. Unfortunately, he doesn't have the sense to repudiate him completely.

    February 21, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • sam

      Sad but true.

      “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.

      February 21, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
      • clubschadenfreude

        doesn't that sound *just* like the politicians who need to suddenly "spend more time with the family". Yeesh. Tebow certainly seems like a nutless wonder.

        February 21, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
  9. How to become a Christian

    Method 1: Be born into a family that indoctrinates you so heavily in Jesus propaganda that you are never able to transcend the ignorance and parrot it for the rest of you life.

    Method 2: Make such a trainwreck of your life that, in your desperation you are willing to listen to anyone, including cultists.

    February 21, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • Reason and Logic

      You must be a Christian then

      February 21, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • How to become a Christian

      That was so lame and childish and idiotic that I truly appreciate you responding like that!

      February 21, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • Matt

      Well you certainly showed everyone how to publicily announce you're an idot. Thanks for the lesson.

      February 21, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
  10. Jesus

    Tim who?

    February 21, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • clubschadenfreude

      exactly. Tim who? Oh yes, that twit that thinks his god cares more about football and Tim than actually helping people who need it.

      February 21, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
  11. Odo

    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
    ====================================
    And they pay not one red cent in taxes......

    TAX THE CHURCHES!!!!!

    February 21, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • Badda Bing

      But how will they pay for their Lamborghinis?

      February 21, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • the blood

      I'll bet this church gives a ton more money to charity than you do pal. Stop being so judgmental. You know nothing about that church.

      February 21, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • hrdwrknjoe

      and let children die from hunger while they build their gold Idol temples.

      February 21, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • dave

      Separation of Church and State. It's not a one-sided deal...

      February 21, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • Robert Jeffress

      @the blood – you mean AFTER that cool $130 mil we spent on our new digs?

      February 21, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Badda Bing

      Well of course they give more to charityu than I do. They got themselves registered as a charity, and give most generously to themselves, as a cash level I could never hope to match.

      So much of the "giving to charity" that churches do is actually an accounting trick of having one part of the organization pay another part. Catholicism is a wonder at it.

      February 21, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
  12. Casey

    I am a gay Christian, and it is important to remember that the Bible does not condemn h-o-m-o-s-e-x-u-a-l-i-t-y when it is put in historical and cultural context and is read using reason, as Jesus did.

    February 21, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • Surprise

      Since the story is about Tebow, what does your radar say?

      February 21, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • Chris

      Ohh get over it and out of it. It does say it's wrong and you know it. Why would you follow a religion at all?

      February 21, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • mk

      How can you be a christian when you know they, at the least, disapprove of you and look down on you as a sinner??

      February 21, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • the blood

      It most certainly IS a sin. Culture doesn't decide truth, God does. And He's pretty clear about it all the way from Genesis to Revelation (many cultures there).

      February 21, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • Biker

      Well..... an openly gay Christian. I feel like I just saw a unicorn. Too bad the rest of your religion thinks your an abomination. I use to be Catholic but then I grew up.... maybe you should do the same.

      February 21, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • Over 40,000 denominations of insanity

      Thank you to this group here who so well proved TJ's point:

      Thomas Jefferson, POTUS #3 (from Notes on the State of Virginia):

      Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

      February 21, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • sam

      'the blood' – shut your trap. God couldn't care less where you stick it.

      February 21, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • Live4Him

      @Casey : I am a gay Christian, and it is important to remember that the Bible does not condemn h-o-m-o-s-e-x-u-a-l-i-t-y when it is put in historical and cultural context and is read using reason, as Jesus did.

      Jesus did not change the law and the law condemns homosexuality. That said, the sin of homosexuality is no different than any other sin – they all condemn you to death without Jesus' savaltion.

      February 21, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • Casey

      For those who say that the Bible condemns h-o-m-o-s-e-x-u-a-l-i-t-y, please cite a verse. There are many Christian churches that fully embrace LGBT individuals as full members and even clergy (The United Church of Christ, Unitarians, Unity Churches, MCC, Episcopal, Anglicans).

      February 21, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  13. DaTrufHurts

    What is a cult, really, but a church without a good PR department?

    February 21, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • Platypus Rex

      Religions are cults that made the big time. All religions started as cults.

      February 21, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
  14. Mark in Atlanta

    Don't assume all Christians are the same. Sweeping generalizations are dangerous. Jeffries seems like a total creep, and Tebow made a good call when decided not to connect himself with that racist bigot in Dallas. And while I'm not a huge Tebow fan, he seems like a decent enough guy. Mostly harmless, anyway. Unlike Jeffries, who has earned people's contempt, Tebow probably doesn't deserve as much ad hominum meaness as many of these posts seem to be serving up.

    February 21, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • skytag

      Look up the definition of "ad hominem." You used it incorrectly.

      February 21, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
  15. ShingoEX

    You can't really expect to win a Super Bowl as a Cristian, considering the big game is played on the sabbath. That's supposed to be a no-no.

    February 21, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • hrdwrknjoe

      Only if your JEWISH – Old Testament law

      February 21, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • Death To Muggles

      The Sabbath is on Saturday.
      You Christians who hold dear the ten commandments
      have been sinning every time you go to
      church on Sunday.
      You can thank your evil church for that one.

      February 21, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  16. Over 40,000 denominations of insanity

    Recently we learned of the head of LCMS chastising a minister of that church for participating in a joint service for the victims of the Newtown school shooting. One sect calls homosexuality an abomination while the next one is already performing gay marriage. Conflicted right from the very beginning, Christianity continues to splinter and create divisions as it goes.

    Has anything improved with Christianity since 200+ years ago?
    =================================================

    Thomas Jefferson, POTUS #3 (from Notes on the State of Virginia):

    Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

    James Madison, POTUS #4, chief architect of the U.S. Constitution & the Bill of Rights (from A Memorial and Remonstrance delivered to the Virginia General Assembly in 1785):

    During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

    John Adams, POTUS #2 (in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, 09/03/1816):

    I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved – the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! With the rational respect that is due to it, knavish priests have added prostitutions of it, that fill or might fill the blackest and bloodiest pages of human history.

    Ben Franklin (from a letter to The London Packet, 3 June 1772):

    If we look back into history for the character of present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practised it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England, blamed persecution in the Roman church, but practised it against the Puritans: these found it wrong in the Bishops, but fell into the same practice themselves both here and in New England.

    Thomas Paine (from The Age of Reason):

    All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

    February 21, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • I'm a believer

      Almost all the bad our country has faced is when we have turned away from God. If our country truly followed jesus teaching we would be a much better society. I'm almost positive he would have taken the stance of hate the sin love the sinner.

      February 21, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • SeilnoigileR

      @I'm a believer – Yes, things were oh so very much better in the 1800 and 1900s when most everyone was (or at least pretended to be) religious. I do agree on one thing. If everyone followed the 'do unto others' rule, the world would be a better place. Thing is, almost every other religion says the same thing, some much older than christianity.

      February 21, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
  17. Scott

    Tebow's approach....a "softer" approach is much more like Jesus than the pastor of First Baptist Dallas. So many fundamentalists have it wrong. Jesus spoke truth and didn't waiver but loved every person he came into contact with. Christians need to do more of that!

    February 21, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • The truth Jesus spoke

      If you pray and believe, your prayer will be answered exactly as you ask withoout fail, including having a mountain throw itself into the sea.

      The end times will occur in the lifetime of some of those standing there listening to Jesus.

      February 21, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • Dolly

      Amen! Well put! Jesus was a loving man. He spent the majority of time with the poor, sick & sinners – not his BFF's.

      February 21, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • skytag

      "If you pray and believe, your prayer will be answered exactly as you ask withoout fail, including having a mountain throw itself into the sea."

      I can't believe people are stupid enough to believe this tripe. Even Christians don't believe this. They'll claim God answers prayer, but then faced with the reality that there is no evidence whatsoever that any prayer has ever been answered they start rationalizing and making excuses, the most popular being that if what you say were true it would provide evidence of God's existence and then people wouldn't need faith.

      February 21, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • the blood

      Yeah, Dolly. But He didn't embrace or condone their sin. He them to repent of it, and offered them freedom through forgiveness and inner renewal. You're only telling one side of the story.

      February 21, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Robert Jeffress

      I love it that there are so many flaming bigots like myself running around in here. I want the blood to come visit my church and get down on his or her knees and open wide and get Jesus' salvation all over the face.

      February 21, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • Really?

      Dolly, what Bible are you reading? Jesus spent FAR more time with his BFF apostles than he did with anyone, especially the poor and sick. He does a few cameo guest appearances with the poor and sick, but mostly he is out selling his beliefs instead of helping the poor.

      February 21, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • Wrathbrow

      Your indicating to others that Jesus spoke "truth". Actually many people do not view some of the things he said as truth. Your labeling something as truth does not make it so, any more than what I say should be automatically stamped as truth. What I tend to find insulting is when people on either said of this type of debate start with a basis of their version of truth. My preference is to talk about the details and evidence and pros and cons of things, instead of tossing massive labels on things.

      February 21, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
  18. Mattman

    Someone cancels speaking engagement – this is front page news on CNN why?

    February 21, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • Linda Luttrell

      Haven't seen him as much in the news lately. Maybe it is just his turn in the spotlight again or time to start some more "holy war" crap! Either way him, or that freak Jeffress...who cares!

      February 21, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • the blood

      "Freak" Linda? Why freak? Just cause it's easy to label people and dismiss them that way? That's a pretty judgmental thing to say.

      February 21, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • the blood

      I, for example, am not judgmental at all, you stupid bitch!

      February 21, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  19. Christianity is a form of SEVERE mental illness

    Wonder when Tebow is going to come out????????????

    February 21, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • Linda Luttrell

      Lot of people wondering about that one! Maybe HIS imaginary girlfriend told him to pass on this one...

      February 21, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Probably right after you do Mental.

      February 21, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
  20. Nietodarwin

    "Christians are losers" (Ted Turner)

    "Tim Tebow is a loser" (NY JETS)

    February 21, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • Reason and Logic

      If Ted Turner called Christians losers then it must be true

      February 21, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • God Fearing

      Ted Turner is a brainles bolb of nothing!

      February 21, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
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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.