Dallas, Texas — Football superstar Tim Tebow announced today that he has decided to cancel his appearance at an upcoming grand opening ceremony of a Dallas megachurch amid controversy over his possible attendance at a church that opposes homosexual behavior and all religions other than Christianity.
The New York Jets quarterback was to speak at a celebration service for a new $130 million facility belonging to First Baptist Church of Dallas, an effort that is said to be the largest church building project in history. Pastor Robert Jeffress explained in a recent news release that he felt it was important to construct the new building due to the increase in the size of his congregation.
“At a time when suburban megachurches are the norm and research shows that many people no longer feel the Church is relevant, First Baptist is committed to the Bible and to downtown Dallas,” he said. “People are hungry not for religion but for the Word of God. First Baptist Dallas is built on the Bible, and because of that we are growing.”
The facility features a 3,000 seat worship center and 150-foot viewing screen, which is stated to consist of seven high definition projectors, making it among the largest church megatrons in the world. Also included on campus is a Family Center, which features a gymnasium and playground, as well as a seven-story parking garage.
However, following word that Tebow was to make an appearance at the grand opening of the facility, many homosexual advocates and other groups began to express concern because of statements that Jeffress has made in the past. Jeffress reportedly has noted that he believes homosexual behavior is contrary to the Bible, and has spoken against Mormons, Muslims, Jews and Catholics.
Raw Story notes that Jeffress declared in 2011 that Islam is a “heretical” religion from “the pit of Hell,” and that “you can’t be saved being a Jew.” He is also quoted as stating, “Homosexuality is perverse; it represents a degradation of a person’s mind and if a person will sink that low and there are no restraints from God’s law, then there is no telling to whatever sins he will commit as well.”
This morning, Tebow made an announcement on Twitter that he had decided to cancel his appearance.
“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,” he wrote. “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!”
Later today, American Family Radio spoke with Jeffress to ask him what he knows about the cancellation. Jeffress said that Tebow felt it was important to avoid the controversy surrounding the church — at least for the time being.
“Tim called me last night and we had a very pleasant conversation,” he stated. “He explained to me that he felt that because of personal and professional reasons he needed to lay low right now to avoid controversy, and said that he would like to come back to our church at a later date.”
“So, that’s Tim’s decision, and he has to do what he thinks is best,” Jeffress added. “This controversy is really based on lies and misrepresentation.”
Jeffress made similar comments to CNN.
“Tim … 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,” he said.
Jeffress stated that Tebow advised that he has no disagreement with his views as he attends a Southern Baptist church.
“They certainly believe what we do — that salvation is through Christ alone, and about homosexuality,” he said. “Tim confirmed that to me last night that they believe exactly what we do about homosexuality.”
“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 [being] necessary for salvation, and sex [being acceptable only] between a man and a woman in marriage, you can’t avoid controversy,” Jeffress opined. “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.”
Calls to Tim Tebow’s publicist seeking clarification were not returned by press time.