Tim Tebow felt the wrath of the media Tuesday when it became known he had scheduled a speaking engagement at a church with a very controversial leader.

Once diehard Tebow fans are now fleeing from any association with him,  after news broke of his future dealings with Dr. Robert Jeffress – pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas – a man who has reportedly taken a volatile public stance against Jews, Catholics, Muslims and homosexuals.

“We have been mis-characterized and misquoted as being a hate-spewing church,” Dr. Jeffress told 106.7 The Fan’s Holden and Danny Wednesday. “For us to simply say that Jesus Christ offers salvation to anyone who believes in him, and that sex should be between a man and woman and marriage, that that should be considered hate speech, I don’t understand that. It really shows you not that the word of God has changed, but society has changed.”

Jeffress acknowledged that Tebow will be speaking to his congregation on April 28, as part of a month-long celebration of the First Baptist Church’s new $130 million campus in downtown Dallas.

“A lot of people appreciate Tim Tebow and his strong Christian testimony,” Jeffress said.

It is no surprise that Tebow is a Christian, as he’s made no attempt to hide his faith at any point in his time in the public spotlight; in fact, quite the opposite.

But the fact remains, even if Jeffress has been misquoted, the public perception is that he preaches hatred toward other religions, and towards people with same-sexual orientations. And the decision by Tebow to align himself with this church – of which the public may or may not have a distorted opinion of its beliefs – is a decision to align himself with its opinions.

“Although the media is trying to make something negative about this, he’s not here to talk about negative, controversial subjects,” Jeffress said. “He’s going to be here to talk about his own personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the difference that’s made in his life.”

When asked if speaking at his church was the best career move for Tebow if there’s a chance it could jeopardize his lucrative endorsement deals, Jeffress put the decision back on the playcaller.

“That’s something Tim has to decide for himself,” Jeffress said. “Those of us who are Christians believe that our allegiance is, first of all, to God and not to man, and I think most Americans are tolerant enough of people to recognize that they can enjoy a sports figure and not have to agree with every belief that he has personally.”


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