Tim Tebow’s plans for Easter ‘mass’

That Tim Tebow guy is something else. You would think with all of the New York City media following him around these days, that it would be hard for him to sneak off and make some kind of radical change in his religious life.

I am referring, of course, to his decision to become a Roman Catholic.

Wait, you didn’t hear about that?

That is certainly one easy interpretation of this rather jarring headline on the CBS Sports website.

Tebow to speak at Easter mass in Texas

Yes, that says what you thought it said — although the lower-case “m” in Mass is a bit strange. Here’s the short news clip under that headline:

New Jets QB Tim Tebow is going to be a guest speaker at Easter mass at a church in Texas, according to KVUE-TV in Austin. The church is expecting 30,000 people to attend the event, which normally draws closer to 7,500. Tebow is known as much for his strong Christian beliefs as he is for his football talent.

However, when one visits the KVUE website, there is no sign of the word “mass” or “Mass” at all.

I assume that, at some point, the story simply said that Tebow would be speaking at a “massive” Easter service and some print-challenged producer cut the story down to size a bit too much. Surely there are people at CBS Sports who have heard of the Reformation and know a little bit about Catholics and Protestants and the differences between these approaches to Christian faith?

But back to KVUE-TV. At the moment, the station has the following online:

GEORGETOWN – One of the biggest names in sports who also happens to be a devout Christian is heading to Georgetown for Easter Sunday.

On Wednesday, the first signs of Tim Tebow fever hitting Georgetown could be seen on 60 acres at the Celebration Church. Scaffolding and trellises were erected Wednesday on the church’s property for the Tebow visit. The New York Jets quarterback will speak for 20 minutes during an outdoor worship service that could draw as many as 30,000 people for the Easter Service beginning at 10 a.m.

“Obviously it’s our Super Bowl,” said Joe Champion, pastor at the Celebration Church. “Easter is the resurrection of Christ, which we celebrate in our faith. We feel like it’s going to be a testimony to the community. We want it to be a family event.” …

Pastor Champion still doesn’t know exactly why his congregation was chosen by the Tebow camp as a place for him to speak. The pastor did say that Easter was not the original date chosen by Tebow’s representatives.

Etc., etc. I’ll admit that this sounds like a rather massive service. It also sounds absolutely megachurch Protestant, from A to Z.

This is not rocket science folks. A click or two with a mouse yields browser results that would straighten anything out in somewhere between 20 and 30 seconds.

Rather embarrassing, methinks.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • http://twitter.com/wyclif wyclif

    “Sounds”, not “wounds.” Heads up.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt


    It’s bad to have a typo in a story about such an obvious mistake.


  • Chris

    mass = journalist shorthand for Christian gathering for worship.

    Well at least the story didn’t use the “f” word:


  • Ryan K.

    The most fascinating part of all of this was how I saw so many media outlets and journalists refer to this as Tebow’s “Easter speech.” Are they really so far removed and unfamiliar from religion that they don’t know the proper term is “sermon?”

    It is the little things like this that often reveal the “get religion” crisis more than anything else.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Not only is the word “mass” misused, but the concept of a guest speaker talking during a Mass is erroneous. Only a priest or deacon is normally supposed to give a talk during Mass (a “homily”–which is a talk on the day’s Bible readings–or a “sermon” on some broader topic to do with The Faith). Even announcements of parish activities are supposed to be left to the end of the Mass and not given at the time reserved for the homily or sermon. Personal witness talks are left for other types of services or meetings.
    This policy is an attempt to guarantee that a congregation at Mass will hear the authentic, orthodox Catholic Faith.

  • Deann

    Easter speech and Santorum’s faith-based sermon. Why another publication’s plan to have [less-paid] India writers via webcam report a community’s city council meetings just didn’t cut it.

  • rob in williamson county

    Etc., etc. I’ll admit that this sounds like a rather massive service. It also sounds absolutely megachurch Protestant, from A to Z.

    Indeed. Celebration Church (“one church. multiple locations”)is about as magachurch as they come in my area. They are holding the Tim Tebow service at the “Westinghouse Campus” (near Georgetown, TX). Though I wish him the best, I will be attending a much smaller, though equally joyous, service at my church. The local paper (Round Rock Leader) were saying the expected crowd was around 20,000…at least as of Maundy Thursday.

  • John M.

    I’ve noticed that there’s a certain type of Roman Catholic who uses the term “Mass” to describe any type of worship service. This seems particularly common among those who grew up in relatively insular Catholic communities. I suspect that’s what happened here.

    But what a biff. I mean, growing up in an insular community would be no excuse for a journalist calling David Cameron the President of the UK or, for that matter, calling Tim Tebow a goalie.


  • GhaleonQ

    I’d really like to see follow-up coverage on whether they use the term “sermon” or “speech.” The church is nondenominational, but they seem to be using “speech” (as did the Associated Press). Mollie and other Kierkegaard fans would know that most denominational churches would shy away from using “sermon” for an unordained person. Kierkegaard used “uplifting discourses.”

    Of course, I’d love to hear the church’s opinion on the matter, too, rather than this simply being a media critique.

  • http://www.doulos.at Wolf Paul

    In my country (German-speaking Austria) the media regularly call any religious service a “Messe” and any minister of religion a “Priester” — a couple of years ago, when we had a violent incident in the small Sikh community, they even used these terms to describe the Sikh services and ministers.

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    I remember a story in an advertising periodical which led off stating that “Catholics and Baptists are taking up a common concern with marketing mass”. Nobody around me could see what was wrong with that sentence.

  • Jeff

    It could have been worse.

    At least they didn’t say “Tebow to Speak at Theocratic-Christianist Nuremberg Rally in Eeevil, Eeevil Texas, Home of Eeevil, Eeevil George W. Bush.”

  • SouthCoast

    Maybe it was used as one of those plural-object thingies, as in “a murder of crows”. Hence, “a mass of Christians”, being goggled at by a confounded “muck-up of media”.

  • sari


    This morning’s local write-up. In answer to the sermon/speech question, the paper said Tebow gave a Q&A and that media access was extremely limited.

  • ceemac

    Have not read any of the coverage of what actually happened. But I doubt that Tebow preached a sermon or gave a speech. Given the context I suspect that what he did was share his testimony.