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?