Reader Feedback Time: Is Tim Tebow a Religious Bigot?

NFL superstar Tim Tebow may just possibly be a religious bigot.

That was the concern I expressed last year in an article titled The Tebow Phenomenon:  Two Kinds of Prejudice.  I looked at the blatant anti-Catholicism expressed by Tim’s father, evangelical missionary Bob Tebow.

Today,  Yahoo! Sports raised the issue once again, announcing that Tim Tebow has agreed to speak at the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, on April 28.  You see, the pastor of First Baptist is the controversial Rev. Robert Jeffress.

Jeffress has been an outspoken critic of churches which hold to beliefs which differ from his own.  For example, Jeffress has declared that Islam and Mormonism are “heresies from the pit of hell.”  He is an opponent of Judaism, and a vocal opponent of homosexuality.

But he saved his most vitriolic attack for the Catholic Church.  In 2010, Jeffress called the Catholic Church “the genius of Satan” and claimed that it was “corrupted” by cults.

The Yahoo! article raises an important concern:

Jeffress is, of course, perfectly free to say and believe whatever he wishes, as is Tebow himself. But freedom of speech isn’t freedom of consequence from that speech. Jeffress has plenty of believers who subscribe to his message. The trouble, for Tebow, comes in the fact that he surely has more than a few fans who fall into at least one of the categories condemned by Jeffress. Will Tebow agree with Jeffress’ views? Take issue with them? Remain silent? That’s the position he’s now in by agreeing to speak in Jeffress’ church. Hardline stances may win you true believers in the church, but they tend not to sit so well with the general public.

So, friends and sports lovers:  I couldn’t care less about football, and I know little about the players who come into your living rooms on Sunday afternoons.  But what do YOU think?  Should Tim Tebow reign in the religious prejudice and steer clear of controversial figures like Pastor Jeffress?  Or is it really none of our business?

  • Laura K

    Cardinal Dolan spoke at the Democratic National Convention, but that didn’t make him a Democrat. Some people refuse to shake the idea that Ratzinger’s brief association with the Nazi Party as a youth makes him a Nazi. Those who look into the facts, and not just the chance association, know the truth. Tim Tebow should not be found guilty by his brief association with Robert Jeffress. His own words and financial support and deeds should stand as witnesses. If at that church he chimes in about how satanic the Catholic Church is, then we have a case.

  • Cynthia

    I totally agree with Laura, above. I want to hear what he has to say.

  • Brian Sanders defines bigot as a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion. One needs to look no further than Tim Tebow’s coaches and teammates, whom he always thanks and esteems, to know they represent a variety of creeds, beliefs, and opinions. This whole media thing about his speaking at First Baptist, Dallas, is really about defaming Tebow and being intolerant of his own faith; let’s not pretend otherwise.

    • Shane Dorff

      Brian, you hit the nail on the head. Tim Tebow has always been one of the most humble, compassionate, positive public figures that I can remember. He doesn’t say anything negative about anything — EVER. This is all about Tebow-haters pouncing on anything and everything they can grasp on to that might help them tear Tim Tebow down. It’s sad really, because Tim Tebow truly is one of “The Good Guys” that we need more of. May Tim Tebow continue to be the positive role model he has always been. God bless him!

    • Mary Gordon

      I agree, Brian and Shane.

      I’ve always considered bigotry to mean prejudice with hatred on top.

      Tim would never hate someone of a different faith. He would love them even as he differed.

      Calling him a bigot, even using the word in relation to him smacks of bigotry itself.

  • C. Trace

    It sounds like these people are being accused of believing the Bible.

    It’s not anti-semitic to tell Jewish people that no one comes to the Father but by the mediation of Jesus Christ. That’s what the Bible says.

    It’s not virulence towards gays to tell them that God condemns homosexuality. That is what the Bible says.

    It’s not anti-Catholic to hold the beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church up against the tribunal of Scripture.

    Basically asking Christians to denounce the word of God or be called bigots is strange territory in America indeed.

    • Mary Gordon

      Well said, C. Trace.

    • Kory

      I agree–and most of all with your last example. Of course it’s not anti-Catholic to evaluate her beliefs in context of Sacred Scripture–there is no other faith that pursues the Word of God with such perfection. Unfortunately, there are so many like Jeffress that twist and misrepresent her teachings either intentionally or due to ignorance. Next time you hear anyone critique ANY faith, take a moment to ask yourself if you shouldn’t consider hearing it from the horses mouth rather than jumping on a band wagon steered by a misinformed driver. So, in regard to Tebow, I’ll hear him out rather than letting an article like this persuade me into thinking he might be a bigot due to loose associations.

  • Cheila

    Better start calling out EVERY black player who gives props to Malcolm X and/or Louis Farakahn…that is, if you’re so concerned about players cohorting with racists and bigots.

    We have a President who sat in the hate-spewed pews of Rev Jeremiah Wright’s church for 20+ yrs, but the “media” is more concerned about who and where a ball player is visiting…ONCE. Go figure.

    • Ha

      One, you know Malcom X refudiated racism at the end of his life, kind of like George Wallace. Two I’ve never heard a player say anything about X or Farakahn, maybe that’s bc I am not 80 years old. I have heard plenty of black players talk about God. Weird that you bring race into this discussion when it is about religion. Says more about you than anything. Maybe you should examine your heart and find out why you are fixated on black people.

  • Ted

    I beleive he will give witness to the word of God and be an example of tolerance. But tolerance without accepting sin. Consisdering the vitreole he gets day to day and withholds his tongue in in a saintly way, I do not expect him to attack anyone or anything unless it is sin. You have to be a good example to all including those in error. Not that all Jeffress says is wrong but there is some. For instance, there is not one church that can say it is without any error today. Our lord wanted one true church not denomination after denomination that says its right and you are wrong. If all denominations got rid of pride and accepted the proptings of the holy spirit, there would be no division. But it has to be biblical. Soon there will be a false one world religion, you will know it by its fruits. Allowing what man wants not God, and it will only last durring the tribulation. Then he will reunite us in the one true faith in an era of peace. All you have to do is read the book of revelation.

  • chuck

    First off Tebow has the right to speak wherever he wants. That is God’s right. But this so called preacher has to preach the truth. AMD the truth is the Catholic Church is the body of faith that produced the Bible and the faith that this bigoted preacher professes. Sorry but nowhere on the Bible does it say that scripture is the only spice of teaching and faith. That teaching came from a man, Martin Luther (a Catholic priest by the way) and is not supported by the Bible. Don’t pull St. Paul on me. Paul spoke of Scripture as the Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures). While we are at it, without the Jewish people, we would have never had our Saviour, Jesus! Without the Catholic Church, you would never would have had the New Testament. Please study the roots before you condemn the branches.

  • Carl McDermott

    As a Catholic Iam in no way offended by the fact that Tim Tebow is speaking at a baptist church, or that the pastor of the church has made anti-catholic statements. I’ll wait to hear what Tim Tebow has to say

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  • Greg

    Tebow may find himself unemployed sooner than he thinks if he doesn’t stop his nonsense.

  • Shane Dorff

    Tim Tebow has spoken at many churches and delivered messages that are not only enormously well-received, but that are known for their uplifting, positive, inclusive nature that speak of love, compassion, and acceptance of people of all sexes, races, religions and sexual orientation. I am not aware of a negative word that Tim Tebow has ever spoken about anyone or any group, and I highly doubt he will start now. Tim Tebow is actually one of the true “good guys”. He has spent his entire life not only being a shining example of a positive role model for others, but giving back to others and his community. We need more Tim Tebows in the world. Let’s not judge him before he has even had the chance to speak at this church. Consider the possibility that he may well have chosen this particular venue because maybe he felt his “positive” message was needed here because they don’t get it from the highly judgmental hate-spewing Reverend Jeffress.

  • Bob F

    What a DUMB topic for discussion in a news article! Is the news day that poor that you need to drum up something so meaningless and petty? Those who have stood up for Tim and his right to evangelize, way to go. Those who ostracize Tim, I imagine if you were there in John 8 (the story of the adulterous woman), you would be able to cast the first stone. What a bunch of hypocrits!

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  • Kathy Schiffer

    Since I started this whole conversation, I thought I’d weigh in here. Almost all of the comments–here and over on Facebook and other sites–have been generous, and fans are appreciative of Tim Tebow’s deep faith. In a word, you’ve said “NO”–he is not prejudiced, and he has the right to express his viewpoint.

    Thanks to all of you, and God bless.

    • Declan Kennedy

      nice comment Kathy. Have to admit that as a non-American I’d never hears of Tim Tebow, but surely, under your constitution which is admired by so many of us, he has a right to his opinions. I disagree with him, but let him speak and let us discuss this views.

    • Barbara O’Brien Arato

      Tim Tebow showed the younger generation how to behave in good and bad situations. He never showed anything but a willingness to do his part however little especially while on the Jets. He does have a right to accept invitations from other Religious Leaders but it is what he says that matters. I don’t know what he said. I know actions speak louder than words and his actions on the field have given other young boys a greater willingness to bless themselves in public and in Church. Thank God for that. Tim Tebow needs our prayers, he is a well meaning person, in my opinion.

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  • Kelso

    C. Trace. There would be no Bible, at least as you know it with a six book deficiency, without the authority of the Catholic Church. Ever hear of St. Jerome?

    • C. Trace

      I believe the word of God makes the church, not the other way around. And anyway, this doesn’t speak to the fact that a church can drift away from Scriptural truth. There was a Reformation for a reason.

      • Kory

        John 1:14 – Jesus *is* the Word of God. And Jesus *did* make the Church. And, the Church teaches us what Jesus taught, both “by word of mouth” (Sacred Tradition) and “by letter” (which later was compiled by the Church (guided by the Holy Spirit) into what we now know as Sacred Scripture–The Bible). 2 Thessalonians 2:15

        Acts 8:30-31 even shows us how a wise and educated official submitted to the authority of Philip to be taught the meaning of scripture. And yet today, everyone wants to proudly interpret Scripture so that Jesus fits into their own world view and accepts their personal sins. (1 John 4:1, James 1:14).

        But o how he prayed that we would be one (John 17)! So that the world would know Him!

        And he promised to protect the Church. Matthew 16:18 The Church did not and cannot (according to Christ) drift from truth. The proud drifted from the Church. And many of their descendants have never had or taken the opportunity to reexamine the Church–and fall victim to the sins of previous generations.

        The Church exists to guide the flock to Christ. She settles disputes (that the thousands of Protestant denominations have split over) so that we might follow the will of God to be one. Matthew 18:15-17 Obey the successors of the Apostles Acts 2:42. It is our disobedience to authority that prevents Jesus’s prayer from being realized. And the world falls into chaos.

      • Oregon Catholic

        and 30,000 new denominations can’t be wrong. Right?

  • John

    The fact that your title is “Is Tebow a religious bigot” makes you hard to respect and your article even more asinine that it already is. Not all Christians think the same or believe the same things. When you go to speak at another church, OF COURSE there are doctrinal differences. That’s the whole point of going to speak there!

    Get this liberal politics crap out of the church!

    • Kathy Schiffer

      First time I’ve EVER been called a liberal, Mr. Doe. And I use my real name.

  • Anita

    Anyone who calls themselves a Christian and then says derogatory things about other Christians is greatly offending God. One of the main precepts taught by Jesus, is, “Love one another as I have loved you”. They are contradicting His teachings and yet calling themselves His followers. How sad.

  • Greg

    Jesus spoke at the Temple Mount, but didn’t agree with the Pharisees.

  • john

    As a Catholic..I don’t even see Tims father as a bigot..but more misguided and ignorant about not just Catholicism..but of Christianity,Judaism and Islam..obviously the man needs to do a little research and brush up on the history and origins of these three faiths.As for Tim..the poor guy has been attacked almost as mercilessly as Catholics by the media..Tim seems to be a stand up guy,one who is everything the typical pro-athlete of today is not.I believe because the man wears his faith on his sleeve without apology is why he is attacked so much.This country is run by those who hate God and any mention of Tebow is a lightening rod for hatred and bias for his love of Christ.As a Catholic..even though some Christian denominations hate Catholics as well..I still consider them my brothers and sister and would come to their defense over our shared love for Christ Jesus.Does the media attack players like Jeter and Piazza for their love of God?No..perhaps because they are more reserved in their expressions of faith.Remember Mark Bavarro?The tight end for the NY Giants?He was getting on his knees back in the 80′s-90′s and signing himself with the cross whenever he scored..he never was criticized or attacked..nor was he mocked or ostracized for this.They also did’nt refer to it as Bavarroing..just goes to show how far we have drifted as a nation from God..and how evil our mainstream media has become.It is this media hatred for all things pertaining to God that stokes hatred and division..and will one day bring about the persecution and oppression of Christians in this country founded and based on Christian faith,morals and laws.

  • Michael

    What difference does all this idle gossip make? Take care of your own souls…..Catholic’s should pull out their Rosary Bead’s……if they know what they are…..and pray for peace and the conversion of sinner’s…people spend way too much time in gossip and spreading public scandal….myself included..Lent is a time to refrain and examine ourselves..

  • brian

    The entire article is silly, just plain silly. I am so sick of hearing Catholics claim to be the “one true Church”. How is that claim any different from the Pastor in Texas? It is so strange to see a Roman Catholic try to “convert” a Protestant Christian to the true Church. ….. Religion is not about consensus building. People believe what they believe. …. Last thing, I like Tim Tebow, but Tim is no “superstar”

  • Ha

    No it is you guys who are practicing reverse bigotry,by bringing this up/ calling him a bigot. What about his freedom of speech?

  • Roger

    It absolutely is our business what comes into our house. We steer clear of Tim and all the rest of the Tebows.

    If they only knew even half the joy of the fullness of the truth we have in the Catholic Church. If they only had the personal relationship they long for they would recognize Jesus in the Eucharist. Yet in blindness they deny Him there and try to lead others away.

    Heresy hurts people.

    • brian

      Be honest, do you really believe that God desires everyone to be a member of the Roman Catholic Church? Is there no room in Christendom for non-Roman Catholic Christians? Is Jesus Christ so small? Obviously, there is room at the cross for Catholic and Protestant and people who follow God in an all together different tradition. There are many good Christians which do not agree the the Roman Catholic Church is not “Thee One True Church.” The very notion is absurd.

  • Roger

    Brian yes God does want everyone to be part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. The Roman Catholic Church is but one part of that Church which also consists of 21 other churches all who have shared the same faith for 2,000 years.

    Some of the other churches are the Byzantine, Ruthenian, Melkite, Maronite, Chaldean, Coptic etc. There are no Protestants among the Eastern churches it is uniquely a western phenomenon.

    • C. Trace

      Truth is, the three branches of Christianity correlate to Christians who are more intellectually oriented, emotionally oriented, and physically oriented. No other branch can match Calvinism for intellect. No other branch can match Roman Catholicism for emotional paraphernalia. And no other branch can match the Eastern Orthodox for physical practices of the faith. All three contain each type of course, but each has its center-of-gravity.

  • Oregon Catholic

    “For example, Jeffress has declared that Islam and Mormonism are “heresies from the pit of hell.” ”
    I think Jefress may have a certain vitriol to his style but isn’t it just a matter of degree perhaps and a lack of political correctness? Jesus is the Son of God and all Prophets of God ceased with the coming of the Son of Man, the fulfillment of all prophecy. If you believe that to be true, then where else do the prophets of Mormon and Islam come from? Don’t get me wrong, I am not calling believers or even the prophets themselves followers of satan. I am simply pointing out the only obvious instigator.

    “Jeffress called the Catholic Church “the genius of Satan” and claimed that it was “corrupted” by cults.”
    This again is an overblown statement from a kernal of truth. Satan does relentlessly attack the Catholic Church because he knows it is the true Church and therefore dangerous to him and his plan to destroy souls. Can anyone deny he has enjoyed many successes within our own Church, even to the highest reaches?