Tim Tebow has bowed out of a promise to appear at the opening of a new megachurch in downtown Dallas whose pastor has been criticized for making derogatory remarks about non-Christians and homosexuals.
The New York Jets quarterback, who has become a favorite of many evangelical Christians for his prominent displays of faith on the field, issued a series of tweets on Thursday, saying he had been "looking forward to sharing a message of hope and Christ's unconditional love" at the April 28 opening of the new $115 million First Baptist Church in Dallas, but "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," Tebow wrote.
It was an about-face for the NFL quarterback, who had accepted an invitation last week to speak at the church's opening.
First Baptist's pastor, Robert Jeffress, presides over an 11,000-member congregation and hosts a nationally syndicated television and radio program. He has been an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage and described gay people as exhibiting "filthy behavior [that] explains why they are more prone to disease." He has also disparaged Mormons, Hindus and Muslims for "worshipping a false God" and said that Islam has "promoted pedophilia."
Jeffress, speaking to The Daily Beast, said Tebow had told him that for "professional and personal reasons he needed to stay away from controversy right now."
"But he also voiced that he would like to come at some future date in our church," Jeffress said.