(Photo: Tim Tebow Foundation)
NY Jets quarterback Tim Tebow is facing criticism yet again for his choice of speaking engagements, just weeks after canceling his scheduled appearance at First Baptist Church of Dallas with Pastor Robert Jeffress.
Tebow's speaking engagements have made for a lot of news stories in recent months – he was criticized last month by a number of liberal sources that described Pastor Jeffress as an anti-gay preacher who was also anti-Mormon and anti-Semitic. Jeffress explained that he was not teaching people to hate anyone, but Tebow still decided to cancel his appearance after "new information" was made available to him.
Some conservative commentators said that the quarterback, one of the most popular Christian sports figures in recent times, did the wrong thing by listening to the media and backing down from the appearance in Texas.
Now, many are pointing out that Tebow's upcoming speech at Liberty University in Virginia on March 8 is equally controversial.
As one of the largest Christian universities in the world, founded in 1971 by televangelist and Southern Baptist leader Jerry Falwell, Liberty holds itself to a strict code of conduct that bans non-marital sexual relations, "or the encouragement or advocacy of any form of sexual behavior that would undermine the Christian identity or faith mission of the University."
The university has also been described as holding "anti-gay" views for their traditional stance on marriage that seeks to preserve marriage between one man and one woman.
A petition protesting Tebow's appearance has already garnered over 10,000 signatures.
"Liberty University isn't just another conservative Christian college. It's ground-zero for a global assault on the legal rights of gays and lesbians – and a symbol of everything that's wrong with the religious right," says the petition, started on the liberal website Faithful America.
A NY Jets fansite pointed out that Tebow seems to be getting criticized for every step that he takes, and is being pulled both by liberals and conservatives who want to see him on their side.
"It's very tough to broach the subject of where someone should and shouldn't speak," NYJets101 wrote. "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?"
As it stands right now, Tebow has not made any indication that he will back out from his engagement at Liberty's annual "convocation" series, which is focused on inspiring student leadership.