If you can't take the heat, get out of your speaking engagement.
It seems Tim Tebow learned that lesson the hard way this week, announcing on Thursday that he would be canceling a planned appearance at First Baptist Dallas church in April. While Tebow has spoken at other churches in the past, the scheduling of this particular event sparked days of controversy.
The back-up quarterback for the New York Jets was originally supposed to speak at the megachurch on April 28. But the appearance drew instant scrutiny because of senior pastor Dr. Robert Jeffress' views on homosexuality, Islam and Mormonism.
In various appearances and interviews, Jeffress has said that Islam and Mormonism are heretical religions "from the pit of hell," that gay soldiers should not serve in the military because so many homosexuals have AIDS, and that gay activists are trying to "hide the link between homosexuality and pedophilia."
Tebow announced that he had canceled his appearance via Twitter, citing "new information that has been brought to my attention."
READ: Tim Tebow's Statement
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. 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!
While this "new information" is not clarified, it's certainly clear that the speaking engagement became a public relations nightmare.
A University of Florida alumnus posted a Change.org petition asking Tebow to cancel the appearance. Then, on Monday, CBS Sports columnist Gregg Doyel wrote that not only would speaking at First Baptist be "the biggest mistake" of the sports star's life, but that Doyel had gone from being a Tebow fan to someone ashamed to like him.
Such a strong reaction, wrote Richard Langford of Bleacher Report, would likely be echoed by many Tebow fans who may would look at the former golden boy in a different light:
This way of thinking is going to spread through the masses. As a society, we have grown increasingly intolerant of the intolerant.
As a result of this connection to these controversial opinions, Tebow is going to become even more polarizing.
The day before the cancelation, Jeffress expressed confidence that Tebow would appear as scheduled to radio host Janet Mefferd.
"I believe as long as he listens to the Holy Spirit and to God's voice and maybe not that of his handlers, you know, I think he will stand firm," Jeffress told Mefferd, via Right Wing Watch. "And we're counting him to do that."