Tim Tebow may not be getting a lot of attention on the field as the New York Jets' backup quarterback, but he's certainly receiving a lot of buzz off of it, most recently with the announcement of an upcoming speaking engagement at a controversial Dallas, Texas, megachurch.
Tebow is slated to speak on April 28 at 9:15 a.m. during a Sunday worship service of the First Baptist Dallas, according to the church's website.
In March 2012, The New York Times described Tebow as "a preacher in a football player’s body" who wears his religion on his sleeve but rarely discusses controversial issues.
This polite strand of evangelicalism stands in sharp contrast, however, with the barnstorming, hate-filled rhetoric of the church where he is scheduled to speak in April.
First Baptist Dallas is an approximately 11,000-member church led by senior pastor Robert Jeffress, an evangelical Christian who has built up quite a reputation for himself in circles among the religious right.
In October 2011, Jeffress endorsed Texas Governor Rick Perry for president, then went on to claim that Islam and Mormonism are heretical religions "from the pit of hell," and "you can't be saved being a Jew."
On the eve of the presidential election in November 2012, Jeffress warned his Dallas congregation that President Barack Obama's re-election would "lead to the rise of the Antichrist," according to The Christian Post.
Jeffress also gained notoriety for his statements about the gay community. According to ThinkProgress, following the speech where he endorsed Rick Perry in 2011, Jeffress told a media members that gays should not be allowed in the millitary because "70 percent of the gay population” has AIDS.
He has also claimed that gay activists are trying to hide "the link between homosexuality and pedophilia," according to Right Wing Watch. Said Jeffress:
There are a disproportionate amount of assaults against children by homosexuals than by heterosexuals, you can’t deny that, and the reason is very clear: 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.
Last Easter, Tim Tebow spoke in front of nearly 30,000 churchgoers at Celebration Church's Easter service in Georgetown, Texas. And an AZCentral story about the NFL star's recent appearance at the Impact Church in Scottsdale, Ariz., described "an enraptured audience" falling under the spell of the young quarterback's "it factor."
Clarification: While an earlier version of this piece made it seem like senior Pastor Robert Jeffress commented on gay military members during his speech at the Values Voters Summit, in fact he made the comment during interviews following the speech. Also, while he said in an October interview that Jews cannot be saved, he did not mean to imply Judaism is a "heretical" religion in the same way Mormonism is.
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