A short while back, Tim Tebow cancelled his scheduled appearance at the First Baptist Church of Dallas. After taking quite a bit of heat for agreeing to speak at an organization associated with anti-gay, anti-Semitic remarks directly from its Senior Pastor Robert Jeffress, Tim Tebow decided to cancel the appearance and announced his decision via his Twitter account. Now scheduled to speak at Liberty University, which has had its own run-ins with anti-gay rhetoric, there has been a movement started to get Tim Tebow to cancel that speaking appearance as well.
Is Tim Tebow set to spark off another firestorm with a scheduled speaking appearance? Judging by the reaction to his scheduled appearance at the First Baptist Church of Dallas, most likely. Tim Tebow is scheduled to speak at a conference on men's issues that is closed to the public at Liberty University this Friday. Liberty University, much like the First Baptist Church of Dallas, is associated with some strong anti-gay remarks.
Liberty University was founded by the late television preacher Jerry Falwell. Falwell made some inflammatory anti-gay comments in his time, including heaping some blame for the 9/11 attacks at their feet. His son, Jerry Falwell, Jr., is now the chancellor of Liberty University. For his part, the younger Falwell says that Liberty is moving forward, as in away from his father's activism:
“We’re not the Moral Majority anymore,” Falwell said, referring to the religious conservative movement his father founded. “We’re not a church. Our mission is to educate.”
In response to all of this, a movement has been started pleading with Tim Tebow to cancel the appearance. As of 10 p.m. the petition has 10,378 signatures. Liberty University originally advertised the speech, but has since closed it to the public. It's yet another foray into the iffy world of an athlete so strongly associated with his personal beliefs. Every appearance is dissected and must fit the image of what Tim Tebow is supposed to be. At least, that's what many seem to believe.
We don't know what Tim Tebow's agenda is. Maybe he's going there to speak about being more open to the choices of others and accepting them for who they are. How would we know?
It's very tough to broach the subject of where someone should and shouldn't speak. Everyone has the right to associate with who they please. After Tim Tebow cancelled his appearance at the First Baptist Church of Dallas, he was ripped by Robert Jeffress. Prior to cancelling the appearance, he was ripped by everyone else. When is an athlete, or any person, able to break away from what people want them to be?
It's a sticky issue. Tim Tebow will be dealing with this kind of scrutiny for the rest of his life as a result of his openness and strong beliefs.