February 24, 2013

Tebow Cancels Church Appearance: Golden Rule or Public Relations Move?


We’ve stopped believing that people can be good. When they are, we think they must be selling us something or conning us.

Last week Tim Tebow, back-up quarterback for the New York Jets, announced that he was canceling a speaking engagement at First Baptist Church of Dallas in April. The church is led by senior pastor Robert Jeffress, who in the past has spoken out against homosexuals, Mormons, Jews, Catholics and others.

In a Twitter message on Thursday, Tebow stated that he was “looking forward to sharing a message of hope and Christ’s unconditional love” with the members of the church, but that “due to new information” he had decided to cancel his upcoming appearance.

It appeared that Tebow had chosen against affiliation with Jeffress’s intolerance, to which I cheered a silent hoorah.

Tim Tebow and I had a rocky beginning. As a Colorado native, I’ve been a Broncos fan for as long as I can remember. When Tebow came to town, all I knew about him was that he was extremely religious, which in my book, is never a good sign.

The words evangelical, right-wing and fundamentalist bring other words to my mind, like hate, intolerance, deception and fear.

For a long time I waited for Tebow to fall. I made fun of his virgin status, never once believing a 25-year-old in his position could hold out for marriage. I waited for a Ted Haggard kind of scandal, or the revelation that he was gay.

But nothing happened.

Then, as I watched him play for my team, I began following his news coverage and listening to what he had to say. Something began to change in me.

I began to see my own cynicism and skepticism. Had I really become that jaded? Did I really not believe that people could be that good?


We live in a society where we get off on tearing each other down.

I don’t know why we do this. Maybe because it makes us feel better about ourselves. But we do it all the time—in the media, on reality television, in gossip magazines.

We’ve stopped believing that people can be good. When they are, we think they must be selling us something or conning us.

I had this same urge to tear Tebow down because I thought he was one of the right-wing religious folk who think they know what my vagina can do, or who believe my gay friends are evil.

Then one day, it hit me: “Um pot? Hello, this is kettle. Yeah… you’re black.”

In getting to know Tebow’s persona, I began to see the ways I was doing to him exactly what I thought he was doing to everyone else. I thought he was living a judgmental and intolerant lifestyle. I thought he was judging everyone and calling them sinners and speaking out against gays and non-Christian believers.

But he wasn’t. I was the one judging him.

I’ve never heard a hateful word come out of Tebow’s mouth. To my knowledge, he’s never spoken out against homosexuals, or anyone else. His message has always been one of love and peace.

In his Twitter feed last Thursday he said he will continue to bring “Faith, Hope and Love to all those … needing a brighter day.”

Well, that doesn’t sound so bad.

I don’t agree with Tebow’s religious beliefs, but I do believe that he genuinely wants to share a message of love.

He’s one of the few Christians out there who is actually living Christ’s message of love and tolerance.

So how can that be bad? Apparently it is, because the American Family Association is now attacking Tebow for canceling his appearance at the church, saying he has caved to the liberal media, who reported that speaking at the church would be a career mistake.

And so it begins to get murky…

Did he cancel the gig because he didn’t want to lose out on endorsements or because he genuinely disagrees with the pastor?

I don’t know.

Now, updated versions of the original story are reporting that Tebow didn’t cancel the engagement for good—he merely postponed it.

Who knows what’s true (see, there’s that mistrust again) but I’m hopeful he won’t speak there in the end.

I think Tebow is a stand-up guy. He seems to be the kind of person who believes in doing the right thing. And he seems to be living the Christian message—which is to love everyone, not just the people you agree with.

Tebow offers me hope—hope that there are real, genuine people here. That some of us really do want to make the world better, and that it doesn’t have to come at the cost of anyone or anything else. And that people can not only seem good, but actually be good.

So for now I’m choosing to put my faith in him, and hoping that he’ll continue to live as a tolerant, loving Christian. Hopefully, others won’t be far behind.



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Ed: Kate Bartolotta

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