WATCH: Talkin’ Tebow on CW33, WFAA

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Me and WFAA’s Brad Watson at Dallas Voice HQ.

I’m a University of Florida alum and a Dallas resident, so perhaps it was meant to be: I went on both the CW33 and WFAA-TV this week to discuss Tim Tebow’s planned — then canceled — visit to First Baptist Church of Dallas. My main talking point was relatively simple: First Baptist + Robert Jeffress = HATE. Watch both clips below, and read our story from today’s Voice here. Go Gators!

—  John Wright

Petition calls for Tim Tebow to cancel visit to First Baptist Church of Dallas

tebrow

Tim Tebow kisses former Denver Bronco teammate Demaryius Thomas after a game in 2011.

A gay University of Florida alumnus has launched a Change.org petition calling for NFL quarterback Tim Tebow to cancel his April appearance at First Baptist Church of Dallas.

Tebow is scheduled to speak at two morning services on April 28 as part of the church’s monthlong celebration of its downtown expansion. But the Rev. Robert Jeffress’ anti-gay sermons have prompted many to criticize Tebow for associating himself with the anti-gay church, which is “not the type of church a compassionate evangelical like Tim Tebow should be associated with.”

The petition started by Phillip Perry of Washington, D.C., is entitled “Tim Tebow: Cancel Speech at First Baptist Dallas.” As of Tuesday afternoon, only 96 people had signed it.

Perry writes that he has defended Tebow in the past because he is a role model for inclusion, not exclusion. Tebow has never voiced his opinion on gay issues, but Perry insists that “he doesn’t have the same hateful beliefs” as Jeffress and urges him to cancel the appearance to prove it.

“For so many, Tim Tebow is an inspiration on and off the field. He symbolizes compassion, humility and optimism – the type of person who leads a life of philanthropy and inspires us all to do better.,” Perry writes. “While I may not agree with him on every issue, I respect and admire that he has always followed a path of inclusion, not division. It’s because of this that many fellow Gator fans and I have proudly defended Tim Tebow over the years, even when others have attacked and questioned his motives.

“I know he doesn’t have the same hateful beliefs as Robert Jeffress, but he needs to reaffirm that to all of us who believe in him. That’s why I’m asking you to join me in urging Tim Tebow to promptly cancel his appearance at First Baptist Dallas.”

—  Dallasvoice

QUICK TAKE: Tim Tebow and Robert Jeffress were made for each other

Robert Jeffress

Robert Jeffress

NFL quarterback Tim Tebow has agreed to speak at First Baptist Church of Dallas in April.

First Baptist, of course, is led by virulently anti-gay pastor Robert Jeffress, whose “Why Gay is Not OK” sermon in 2008 sparked LGBT protests outside the church. Indeed, Jeffress’ homophobic credentials are too long to list here, but several media outlets reporting on Tebow’s appearance have picked up this passage from one of Jeffress’ sermons last July:

“There are a disproportionate amount of assaults against children by homosexuals than by heterosexuals, you can’t deny that,” Jeffress said.  “And the reason is very clear: Homosexuality is perverse, it represents a degradation of a person’s mind and if a person will sink that low and there are no restraints from God’s law, then there is no telling to whatever sins he will commit as well.”

Tebow, meanwhile, has become well known for revolting public displays of his Christian faith but thus far has steered clear of addressing the subject of homosexuality. However, his decision to speak at a church led by Jeffress speaks volumes.

It’s hardly surprising to see Tebow — the shame of my alma mater — seeking fame and fortune as a religious hoaxster, given that his football career is on the rocks. And it only seems fitting that he’s decided to pay a visit to Jeffress, because they both make our gaydar go off uncontrollably.

UPDATE: There’s now a petition calling for Tebow to cancel his appearance at First Baptist. Sign it by going here.

—  John Wright

Anti-gay Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress urges congregation to eat mor chickin

Robert Jeffress

Amid the gay marriage and chicken chain controversy, the Rev. Robert Jeffress, the anti-gay senior pastor of First Baptist of Dallas, encouraged his congregation Sunday to eat more Chick-fil-A.

Jeffress, who has a long history of anti-gay activism, told his congregation that “this is not about bashing homosexuals,” the CW33 reports.

Instead, Jeffress said supporting the company and the president’s comments supporting only the traditional family was “to support religious freedom in America.”

Upset about the angry reaction from LGBT advocates, Jeffress said “the liberals have gone into a frenzy.” Indeed, they have, with a same-sex kiss-in day planned for Aug. 3. That nationwide event is only two days after Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day Aug. 1, of which you’ll be sure to find Jeffress and his many followers.

When he was pastor at First Baptist Church in Wichita Falls in 1998, he tried to eliminate gay-themed books from the city’s public library. And after joining First Baptist in Dallas in 2008, he sparked protests with a controversial sermon advertised on the church’s marquee, “Why Gay is Not O.K.”

But supporting Chick-Fil-A isn’t about gay bashing for Jeffress. Sure, it’s not.

Watch the video below.

—  Dallasvoice

Anti-gay Grapevine pastor Ed Young compares homosexuality to tall people playing basketball

Ed Young

Pastor Ed Young of Fellowship Church in Grapevine is apparently trying to give First Baptist Church of Dallas’ Robert Jeffress a run for his money as the area’s leading religious homophobe.

Young may be best known for challenging the members of his congregation — or at least the heterosexual, married ones — to have sex every day for a week in 2008. Young staged another publicity stunt earlier this year when he used live animals — a lion and a lamb — in his Easter sermon.

Why does Young need so much attention? Well, apparently he’s trying to support a pretty lavish lifestyle — taking in more than $1 million a year from the church and traveling in a private jet.

Which may also help explain why Young has suddenly become so outspoken in his opposition to same-sex marriage.

After President Barack Obama endorsed marriage equality last month, Young warned that society was treading “on thin ice.” Now Young is planning a series of so-called “Cool-Aid” sermons about same-sex marriage and homosexuality beginning this Sunday.

The idea is that those who support marriage equality — or even just affirm LGBT people — are “drinking culture’s Cool-Aid,” according to the Christian Post:

Young admitted that homosexuality is a controversial topic and that people will have different viewpoints, but insisted that the church should not be silent, and instead it should speak up loudly. He shared that his main hope for the “Cool-Aid” sermon series is to “show the genius of God in his alignment of marriage.”

On the topic of how much choice homosexuals have in regards to their lifestyle, the megachurch pastor said that everyone always has a choice.

“I don’t believe there is a gay gene, just like I don’t believe there is a basketball gene,” he began. “I think all of us are predisposed to things. But we can’t just throw our hands up and say ‘well, I was born tall, and I just can’t help myself, I have to play basketball.’ No, we all have a choice. I believe that maybe some people are born with a leaning toward same-sex attraction. But that does not mean they cannot help themselves.”

—  John Wright

Tom Leppert convinces evangelical leaders he’s sufficiently ex-gay-friendly to represent Texas

I was baffled when I saw this headline in the DMN last week, because the story was over a year late. I now suspect the newspaper was just doing its part to help Leppert distance himself from his past.

In November 2009, after then-Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert enthusiastically joined the virulently anti-gay First Baptist Church of Dallas, I opined here on Instant Tea that the move was purely politically motivated because Leppert was planning to run for U.S. Senate. After calling Leppert’s decision to join First Baptist “a slap in the face to not only the LGBT community, but also to Hindus, Muslims and Mormons,” I wrote that it would be “good riddance for Dallas if he steps down to run” for Senate.

Not surprisingly, Leppert’s office, including openly gay chief of staff Chris Heinbaugh, didn’t take kindly to my comments, and let’s just say I ended up being called on the carpet. But to this day, I stand by those statements, and in retrospect, it would certainly appear as though they were dead on.

When he did finally step down as mayor to run for Senate, Leppert promptly sent out his infamous anti-gay tweet, before coming out against both same-sex marriage and civil unions on his campaign website. During his Senate run, Leppert has been attacked by the other GOP candidates for appearing at gay Pride twice while mayor, but now it looks like he’s managed to win over some of the folks you’d expect to be most critical of his decision to participate in such an “orgy” of “drunken revelries,” in the words of Lela Pittinger.

The Dallas Morning News reports today that a group of evangelical pastors, led by none other than First Baptist’s Robert Jeffress, has formally endorsed the former mayor. The group includes others such as David Dykes of Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Randel Everett of First Baptist Church of Midland, etc. (On a side note, we’re sure the DMN’s main headline on its Metro page last Friday quoting Ed Oakley as saying Leppert had “abandoned gays” didn’t hurt his cause among the pastors. At first I was baffled by this headline because it was over a full year late, but now I consider it to be nothing more than a ceremonial political ex-gay cleansing by the city fathers, if you will.)

As I wrote last month, it’s sad to think that on paper at least, Leppert may be the least anti-gay of the four major GOP candidates for Senate. But I don’t care, I’ll still be glad when he comes in third May 29 behind Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and former solicitor general Ted Cruz. And in the highly unlikely event that Leppert were to decide to never again run for public office, it would indeed be good riddance.

—  John Wright

First Baptist Church of Dallas’ Robert Jeffress joins long list of gay-hating Rick Perry supporters

Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church of Dallas

The Rev. Robert Jeffress, the virulently anti-gay senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Dallas, has announced he’ll endorse Texas Gov. Rick Perry for president today during the Family Research Council’s Values Voters Summit in Washington, D.C.

As Right Wing Watch notes, it isn’t terribly surprising that Jeffress would endorse Perry over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Not because Jeffress is from Perry’s home state, but because Romney is Mormon. In 2007, Jeffress declared that Romney is “not a Christian” and that, “Mormonism is a cult.”

Jeffress’ statement today may be slightly more subtle, but it isn’t hard to read between the lines:

“Some would argue that there are a number of other candidates who possess those attributes as well. However, once the smoke clears in several months, conservative Christians will have a choice to make. Do we want a candidate who is skilled in rhetoric, or one who is skilled in leadership? Do we want someone who is a conservative out of convenience, or one who is a conservative out of conviction? Do we want a candidate who is a good moral person, or one who is born-again follower of Jesus Christ? I believe that in Rick Perry we have a candidate who is a proven leader, a true conservative and a committed follower of Christ.”

Jeffress, of course, has a long history of anti-gay activism. When he was pastor at First Baptist Church in Wichita Falls in 1998, he tried to eliminate gay-themed books from the city’s public library. And after joining First Baptist in Dallas in 2008, he sparked protests with a controversial sermon advertised on the church’s marquee, “Why Gay is Not O.K.”

UPDATE: Jeffress today repeated his claim that Mormonism is a cult. He also said he thinks gays should be barred from serving openly in the military because “70 percent of the gay population has AIDS.”

“It’s a fact that it’s a gay disease so there’s a reasonable reason to exclude gays from the military,” he said.

Watch video of Jeffress’ comments from ThinkProgress below.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Robert Jeffress to blatantly exploit 10-year anniversary of Sept. 11 terrorist attacks

Are We Witnessing America’s Last Days? from First Dallas on Vimeo.

—  John Wright

A week after publishing 1st same-sex wedding ads, DMN profiles anti-gay bigot Robert Jeffress

Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church of Dallas

Perhaps this represents the real price the LGBT community must pay in exchange for same-sex wedding announcements in our daily newspaper. One week after publishing its first gay wedding ads, The Dallas Morning News (subscription only) on Sunday came out with a glowing front-page profile of anti-gay bigot Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas.

The story, under the headline “Pastor hopes to restore glory to First Baptist Church,” reveals that Jeffress has increased resident membership by a whopping 5 percent during his first four years at First Baptist. But overall membership is still down by about 35 percent since the church was led by W.A. Criswell.

The story claims that when Jeffress was a 15-year-old member at First Baptist, Criswell told him, “Robert, I want you to learn every square inch of this place [First Baptist] because one day it’s all gonna be yours.”

OK, that’s just plain creepy. Did they go over every square inch of anything else?

And speaking of creepy, the story concludes with a passage about how Jeffress once dressed up as a bright-yellow, six-foot banana to go on Let’s Make A Deal. Gee, sexually repressed much?

Overall, the DMN story is way too positive given the extent of Jeffress’ incessant hate-mongering — and it really doesn’t belong on the front page to begin with (perhaps an inside religion page?). But there is some token balance, most notably this passage:

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Texas A&M Senate backs anti-gay measure; pastors come out for Leppert

How do the “Pastors for Leppert” feel about his appearances at gay Pride?

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1.  The Texas A&M Student Senate wants to cut funding in half for the school’s gay resource center, and divert the money to a “center for traditional and family values.” According to GLBT Aggies President Camden Breeding, the Student Senate voted Wednesday night to support a state budget amendment by Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, that would require schools with LGBT resource centers to spend an equal amount on centers for traditional and family values. The measure approved by the Student Senate, which you can read here, opposes any increase in student fees to pay for the new “traditional and family values” center, but says existing revenue should be evenly divided between the two centers. The Student Senate also agreed to advocate on behalf of Christian’s amendment as it moves through the Legislature. Well, it’s no wonder that Texas A&M is consistently ranked among the nation’s most homophobic schools. And it seems as though the notion that young people are less bigoted than their parents doesn’t necessarily hold true in Texas.

2. A bill to prohibit transgender people from marrying people of the opposite sex is yet to come up for a vote in the Texas Senate, but it could come up today, according to Daniel Williams at Legislative Queery. Williams also reports that State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, has agreed to remove enumerated categories, including sexual orientation and gender identity/expression, from Asher’s Law, a bill that would prohibit discrimination in Texas public schools.

3. Former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert continues to veer sharply to the right as he seeks the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate. A new website called Pastors for Leppert features endorsements from conservative religious leaders, including the virulently anti-gay Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church of Dallas.

—  John Wright