Tim Tebow has canceled his appearance at a Dallas megachurch known for its virulently antigay pastor, blaming "new information that has been brought to my attention."
The New York Jets backup quarterback is an outspoken Christian who famously recorded an anti-abortion Super Bowl ad for Focus on the Family in 2010. But it appears Tebow didn't think First Baptist Church and its pastor Robert Jeffress — who has called gay people a "perversion" who are littered with AIDS — was a match for his message of "unconditional love."
"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," Tebow said in a series of tweets today, "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. Thank you for all of your love and support. God Bless!"
Jeffress himself seem to be getting a different message, claiming during a radio interview this morning that Tebow is simply delaying his appearance. He told the American Family Association about a phone conversation he had with Tebow on Wednesday night. "He felt like he needed to lay low right now and avoid controversy, and said that he would like to come back to our church at a later date." (Watch video from RightWingWatch of the interview below.)
Tebow had generated headlines not only on LGBT news outlets but also in mainstream sports media after he was listed on the church's website as a "special guest" for April 28.
The list of Jeffress' antigay statements is legion. Back in 1998, he checked out children's books from the library that included gay parents and then refused to return them. From there, he delivered sermons titled "Homosexuality Is a Perversion" and "Why Gay Is Not OK." In his sermon titled "What to Say to Those Who Are Gay" in 2011, Jeffress suggested telling people that "the idea of long-term homosexual relationships is a myth."
The pastor had also been known for saying Mitt Romney is part of a cult as a Mormon and for making what were considered anti-Muslim and anti-semetic comments.
For more of this antigay history — and there's a lot of it — check out this list of video and audio clips.