On Thursday, NFL quarterback Tim Tebow canceled his appearance to speak at First Baptist Church of Dallas next month after Tebow came under pressure from the sports media to do so.
On his Twitter account, Tebow stated, in a series of tweets, that “new information” that had been brought to his attention compeled him to cancel his April 28 speaking engagement, which was announced last week.
The “new information” may have been about the church’s pastor Robert Jeffress. Jeffress, in 2011, said Mormonism was a cult while praising failed Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry. Jeffress has also made controversial comments about Muslims, Catholics and Jews, and sports writers put pressure on Tebow by writing his appearance next month would be an endorsement of Jeffress’s views.
“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 said in four tweets. “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!”
Jeffress, appearing on a Dallas radio show when Tebow tweeted his announcement, said Tebow told him on Wednesday he had to cancel for “professional reasons” to “steer clear of controversy” but “would love to come back to your church at some time in the future.”
There has been speculation that NFL teams interested in Tebow were worried about his association with Jeffress. Had Tebow not canceled, it could have lessened his chances to get signed by an NFL team since he is expected to be released by the New York Jets in the next two weeks.
Sportswriters like CBS Sports’ Greg Doyle put pressure on Tebow to cancel immediately after the initial announcement was made last week. Doyle, the same writer who said Tebow’s public embrace of his faith was blasphemous in a column two years ago, purported to be objectively undecided about how he felt about Tebow when he wrote this week that Tebow’s appearance at Jeffress’s church would be the biggest mistake of his life.
The pastor, in the radio interview with 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, said that he was “obviously disappointed,” but noted Tebow had called him on Wednesday to inform him of his decision.
“Well, actually, Tim called me last night, so I was aware of this,” Jeffress said Thursday. “We had a very pleasant conversation on the phone and we’ve texted back and forth since then. And Tim, what he said to me was, ‘Because of personal reasons and professional reasons, I need to steer clear of controversy right now, but I would love to come back to your church at some time in the future.'”
Jeffress said Tebow was “under incredible pressure” to cancel his appearance.