Last year, I briefly mentioned Tim Tebow, a football player who prayed for a winning field goal kick and got it. This prompted two things -- the meme known as Tebowing, and people suddenly declaring Tebow a hero of Christians. I don't understand why Tebow is considered an ambassador of Christianity. So he's public about his faith. So am I, and no one gives a shit about it with me, why do they give a shit about it with him? It doesn't help that people don't know the real Tim Tebow. They know he's a football player and he's a Christian, but that's it. No one knows the nuts and bolts of his beliefs, if he believes in offensive shit, or anything. He's just a public symbol of Christianity in a world with far better practitioners of the faith.
Whatever. People want heroes, and will often seize on them as a shorthand for their lives instead of someone who genuinely inspires and motivates. There's a Chinese saying about a doctor who cures a village is a hero, but a doctor who prevents the village from getting sick in the first place isn't as dramatic and interesting.
Tebow has had a lot of people talking smack about him during the football season. Everything I saw showed me a guy that was being a team player, that wasn't being demanding (you should see what various Chicago Bears players are like if you think what Tebow was doing was excessive), and so on. I was still refusing to jump on the "Tebow Is A Great Guy" bandwagon because I've been fooled before.
Today, I found out why I was so hesitant to do so.
On April 28th, Tebow is going to be speaking at a megachurch during one of their Sunday masses (I don't like megachurches, I personally feel they are counter to what Jesus meant Christianity to be. Besides, as I have Hannah Singer point out in an upcoming story, you shouldn't trust a church that feels more like a shopping mall than a place of worship). The megachurch in question is the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas.
For those of you not rolling your eyes, let me explain why you should: the church is lead by Evangelical pastor Robert Jeffress. Jeffress has denounced Islam, Judaism (JESUS WAS A JEW! GET THAT THROUGH YOUR THICK FUCKING HEAD!), and Mormonism. He stumped for Mitt Romney for President, telling parishioners that re-electing Barack Obama would "lead to the rise of the Antichrist." He claims that 70% of the gay population has AIDS and still calls it a "gay disease".
Some people are defending Tebow, saying that maybe he accepted the invitation from the standpoint of participating in a huge church service and doesn't know Jeffress says these things.
I could understand that if it was some small, out of the way church he was going to just to pump things up ("Boy, it's great to see all you smiling people here in Berwyn...."). But when you find yourself a spokesperson for a huge group of people (70% of Americans identify as Christians), your presence lends legitimacy. When a major player reaches out to you, you can't be unknowing. You have an obligation to see if these large focal points are using you for nefarious ends. And a preacher who encourages hatred among those seeking his guidance should have sent up a red flag the size of Montana.
So either Tebow is more interested in building his legend as a great Christian than doing his homework, or he simply doesn't care.
And neither option makes him a Christian hero in any way, shape, or form.