Pastor Robert Jeffress says he was surprised when New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow canceled an upcoming speaking engagement at his Dallas megachurch, and believes the media firestorm surrounding the event likely had more to do with the decision than did the church’s much-scrutinized beliefs.
Jeffress, the senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, told The Christian Post that Tebow informed him in a telephone call Wednesday evening that he was backing out of speaking at the church in April. The NFL star told Jeffress he “needed to lay low and steer clear of controversy” because of both personal and professional issues.
Prior to the decision, critics of Jeffress’ views on other religions and homosexuality argued that Tebow shouldn’t make an appearance at the church, which some labeled as hateful. After their phone conversation, however, the evangelical quarterback sent Jeffress a text message saying that he was still prayerfully considering speaking to the 11,000-member church, though he later announced via his social media accounts that he had decided against it.
“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,” Tebow said via Twitter and Facebook on Thursday.
Jeffress said he is not sure what Tebow meant by “new information.” During their conversations the football star even told Jeffress he might consider speaking to the First Baptist congregation at a later date.
“I think the new information … is all the controversy in the media and criticizing of him for coming,” said Jeffress.