Some Evangelicals Are Upset Over Tebow's Decision to Pull Out of First Baptist Dallas Event; Pastor Robert Jeffress Reponds

He gained a few unexpected fans in the gay community today, but notoriously God-fearing quarterback Tim Tebow may have scared off the very supporters who saw him as a Christian celebrity even as his NFL career has fizzled -- they're calling his about-face on an anti-gay marriage pastor "disastrous," and declaring "his street cred with the evangelical community" all but gone.
On Thursday morning, via a string of tweets, the backup QB for the New York Jets (for now, at least) cancelled an upcoming appearance at the First Baptist Church in Dallas. Tebow's second-guessing followed reports that First Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress attacked gay marriage, Islam, and Mormonism in several recorded sermons. The turnaround surprised many of Tebow's critics -- who have noted his support for the vehemently anti-gay organization Focus on the Family -- and, in equal measure, left some of his more vocal supporters on the Christian right more than gobsmacked. The influential conservative radio host Bryan Fischer, for one, called Tebow a "coward":

Does he disagree with him when he says that homosexuality is a sin? Does he disagree with him when he says that Islam is a false religion? If Tebow does not in fact disagree with Jeffress on any of these points, then his decision looks like nothing more than craven capitulation to the nattering nabobs of negativism and intolerance.

The pastor of First Baptist, Robert Jeffress, shared Fischer's sense of betrayal -- according to Fox News Radio, he interpreted Tebow's cancellation as an affront to his church's values:

"To me, the real issue here is the controversy this has generated," Jeffress said. "It's amazing that a church that believes faith alone in Christ is what saves a person and that sex should be between a man and a woman in a marriage relationship - that somehow those beliefs are considered hate speech? That is historic Christian doctrine for the past 2,000 years."

Tebow has long enjoyed the steadfast support of America's growing evangelical community -- a relationship cemented by on-the-field Tebowing and eye black with Bible verses, but also with a Super Bowl ad for Focus on the Family -- for which Fischer serves as a prominent, if persistently controversial, mouthpiece. What's more, Tebow has been steadfast with the press, a Christian figurehead who rarely "flinches under pressure," as Fischer accuses him of, and actually keeps his relationship with God pretty private, despite outward appearance. Well, at least he doesn't flinch under pressure in post-game interviews; on the field is a whole separate story.


SOURCE: J.K. TROTTER
The Atlantic

Robert Jeffress Speaks with Fox News Radio About Tim Tebow's Decision

Jeffress told Fox News that he received a telephone call from Tebow last night informing him of the decision.

"He explained to me that because of things going on in his personal life and his professional career - that he really needed to avoid controversy right now," Jeffress said. "We are disappointed."

Afterwards, Tebow sent the pastor a text message saying that he wanted to pray about the decision before making it final and would contact him Thursday morning.

Instead, Tebow tweeted news of his decision without notifying the church - a move that caught the pastor off-guard.

"To me, the real issue here is the controversy this has generated," Jeffress said. "It's amazing that a church that believes faith alone in Christ is what saves a person and that sex should be between a man and a woman in a marriage relationship - that somehow those beliefs are considered hate speech? That is historic Christian doctrine for the past 2,000 years."

So did Tebow cave in to pressure from gay activists?

"People are going to have to make up their own mind about that," Jeffress said. "The Bible hasn't changed. Culture has changed and that's why our beliefs are now considered hate speech."

Jeffress said Tebow felt badly about cancelling.

"He felt pressured," Jeffress said. "It was a very affable conversation. I think Tim is a wonderful Christian and we are not going to disparage him at all for this."


SOURCE: Todd Starnes
Fox News Radio
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